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Tips for Playing Dungeons and Dragons with Kids!

A lot of gamer parents ask us about how to get started with playing tabletop RPGs with their kids. In fact, we’ve given (and heard) so much advice that we thought we would just put it all down on a page and publish it here on EFG!

This list isn’t the be all and end all for playing RPGs with your children, but this is going to be a great place to start. Take a look below, and make sure to let us know in the comments if we missed anything.

Note: Most of the text here will refer to Dungeons and Dragons, but the majority of these tips will be applicable to any tabletop RPG out there.

Start with a Kid-focused RPG

Lots of gamers have dreamed of playing Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs with their kids for years. It stands to reason that some of those gamers would design their own games to help fill in that void. Darcy Zalewski from the Stay at Home Gamers suggested playing some of those games first!

Some examples include:

Hero Kids

No Thank You, Evil by Monte Cook Games

The Tales of Equestria Tabletop RPG

Establish The Ground Rules

Lots of tabletop RPGs are full of rules, charts, and tables to search through to help understand how to play the game. But, those aren’t as important as the general rules for playing at your table.

You will likely have your own rules, but some suggestions are below:

  1. Respect is key. Make sure to respect your fellow players and the DM.
  2. Be courteous.
  3. Don’t draw in, or rip up game books that are loaned to you. Treat them like your own toys.
  4. No cussing or inappropriate jokes.
  5. If everyone isn’t having fun, then no one is!

Focus on Shared Storytelling

A lot of folks assume that the story comes from the DM, but that’s actually untrue. At the end of the day tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are collaborative storytelling games. This means that everyone is working together to make an interesting story. I think it is important make sure kids understand that.

The story isn’t just happening TO them. It is happening AROUND them. Let them describe their actions whenever possible. Encourage them to talk about how their character does the things they are doing. That adds layers to the experience for everybody!

Let Them Drive (Unless They Aren’t)

It is important to let the kids drive the bus. They might take wrong turns, get hyper-focused on something weird, or kick your sandbox over in any number of cruel, unusual, and exciting ways. Let them do it. As long as they are engaged and enjoying the experience you have won!

With that said, Dungeons and Dragons depends on the players to direct the action. The stories expect the players to move forward, find clues, and discover the solutions. Kids (and even inexperienced players) can have trouble with that. Which means their indecisions can stagnate the experience for everyone. You, as the DM, are the only person who can fix that.

There are lots of great Dungeons and Dragons Products out there, and lots of them have previews online. Make sure to check out what they can add to your campaign!

Keep It Short!

Adults that play Dungeons and Dragons can play for hours without real breaks. We often brag about marathon gaming sessions. That isn’t going to be possible with younger kids. They just don’t have the attention span to focus on these games for long periods of time.

Instead, make sure to plan for your gaming sessions to be more compact and to take more breaks. You won’t make as much “progress” through stories (especially if you are using adventure modules), but they will be more engaged in the experience.

If You’re Going to Go Big – Bring a Co-GM

Rob Kalajian of A Pawn’s Perspective regularly runs a game for ten kids. (WHOA!) He loves it, but he has found that it would be impossible without the help of his wife who co-DMs with him. This lets him focus on the story and the creatures while his wife helps make sure the kids are ready to take their turns. It minimizes downtime and ensures that kids get more direct attention from a GM.

Have (Quiet) Fidget Toys!

Kids will often have a VERY difficult time sitting still for a long time without fidgeting. Dice are terrible fidget toys because they are loud, and they can get lost easily. (Nothing is more distracting than a handful of kids rolling dice and dropping them on the ground.)

Make sure you have a small collection of quiet fidget toys on hand to give them something to fuss with. Some great suggestions are fidget spinners (that you can probably get for super cheap since the fad is over) and Play-Doh.

Simplify The Game!

Dungeons and Dragons is pretty complicated. You can take steps to simplify it though. Some examples of things you can do are:

  • Only give them the dice they need. A player will very likely only needs 2-3 different dice in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (the most recent one).
  • Create a cheat sheet to go along with their character sheet that explains in simple terms what they should do when the
You don’t need to invent your own adventures either! There are plenty of pre-made adventures available!

Don’t Make Them Manage Their Stuff

Kids are notorious for losing things or failing to take care of them correctly. And, nothing can set a game back like a player having to find a new mini or to craft a new character sheet. The best way to solve that problem according to John Christopher over at Wooden Shoe Games is to collect their character sheets at the end of the session. That keeps organization nice and simple.

You could even store all of those character sheets in a binder with some sheet protectors. They’ll be virtually indestructible.

Make Sure the Villain Is AWESOME!

Treavor Bettis and Allie Deutschmann from the Difficulty Class Podcast both emphatically told me that villains for kids need to be cool. They don’t necessarily need to be interesting and nuanced like villains for adult players though. They can, and should, be completely over the top!

What do you all think? What tips do you have for playing tabletop RPGs with kids? Let us know in the comments!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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D & D Beyond – Taking Your Game to the Next Level

D&D Beyond at first glance is a collection of online gaming tools for Dungeons and Dragons 5.0, but the ease of use and friendly interface makes it more than the sum of its parts. D&D Beyond is an evolution of previous tools released by Wizards of the Coast for D&D 4.0 and improves on its subscription model, and improved stability by running everything in the browser instead of separate programs. All D&D Beyond’s best services are free with the creation of an account connected to Twitch.tv. Paid services include expansion of storage in the character creator and Dungeon Master related tools.

Why is it Awesome?

This is hands down the friendliest and most flexible set of tools for Dungeons and Dragons I have ever used.

The biggest features of D&D Beyond is its searchable databases and character creator. The D&D Beyond Website features not only an all-purpose search bar but a set of icons that lets you narrow your search through specific content, including content made by yourself.

It is important to note how much D&D Beyond supports user made, or “homebrew”, content. Every listing to search for a spell, magic item, or race, also give you the option to create or change an existing one in the same menu. While storage of homebrew content can get cramped with only the free subscription, the ability to play around with the tools was a creative opportunity all on its own.

Before I talk about the character creator, I wanted to point out the “Compendium”: Online access to purchase digital copies of every rulebook and adventure module for D&D 5.0. The Compendium, besides to the news updates posted to D&D Beyond, further supports a one-stop location for all things Dungeons and Dragons.

The character creator on D&D Beyond is not only the best character creator for Dungeons and Dragons by far, it is accessible tool for all levels of family gamers, from child to young adult to parent. The character creator has a “Show Help Text” option that starts turned on, so younger or less experienced gamers get additional information, while those with experience building characters can turn it off for a less cluttered experience. With the help text guiding you through the character creator, you will get detailed descriptions of every part of a character in Dungeons and Dragons as you make your choices.

Selecting the option for race, for example, starts with a simple list, but each selection expands into a full section with scroll-able text and full detailed description of your possible choice. Everything in the creator has collapsible text, which can help deal with the flood of information that can often come with character creation.

When you complete the character creator, which includes detailed sections for race, class, ability scores, background, and equipment, you have the option to either view and store the character sheet on your internet browser or download the sheet onto your computer.

Should you use this?

As a free service, D&D Beyond is the best set of Dungeon and Dragons online tools I have ever used. The Hero and Master subscriptions expand D&D Beyond with family-friendly services.

Hero subscriptions, which averages about three dollars a month, allow for unlimited character storage. This is useful for easy access and updating of a family’s worth of character sheets, as well an ad-free experience. Easy access to published homebrew content from other players is part of the subscription.

Master Subscriptions, which average about six dollars a month, while more expensive, allow you to share any purchased digital product with other players in the same campaign. This option would be best for many families of gamers to share access to one collection of digital books.

D&D Beyond is definitely worth every family gamer’s time to explore and use if they are fans of Dungeons and Dragons.

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Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheet 6 yr old

Episode 62: D&D: (Branche Management and Balazaar Boogie)

Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 62. This week we are talking about boardgames. Specifically, tabletop roleplaying games and our game of Dungeons and Dragons that we started with our two sons. Today we are joined by my wife Jenna, and my brother Mike (The infinite co-host who was k.o.’d last episode, but don’t worry… He’s back!

My name is Stephen Duetzmann: Editor and Chief of EFG Gaming. You can reach out to us via our community page at www.EFGgaming.com/community. You can also reach out us viar Twitter: @EFGgaming, and our new email address: EFGpodcast@engagedfamilygaming.com. I am a co-host of the Gaming with Mom’s Podcast and a contributing writer to Pixelkin.

Show notes:

Overview topics/questions:

What is tabletop gaming?

What do kids need to know to play tabletop games?

What are some games that can get kids started on table top games like Dungeons and Dragons?

  • Adventure Maximus
  • Hero Kids
  • Mice and Mystics

What were the initial challenges of inviting the kids to play D&D?

Interview!: J-man and E-man share their stories of Branche and Balazaar (And Leaf)

Getting into the weeds:

How do you balance the role of parent/adult and player/GM?

What kind of things do we recommend when you are playing a mixed ages game of Dungeons and Dragons with your kids?

Our final thoughts on Dungeons and Dragons, and what we would do in the future.

Thanks for listening! You can find any of the games that we talk about here on Amazon.com. Please use our affiliate links so that your purchases support our staff!

Finally, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and support us on Patreon. As always: Thanks for listening to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast.

And Remember: Get Your Family Game On!

Below are all of our website and social links. If the links appear broken, then go to the social media site and search for Engaged Family Gaming. You’ll find us! Thank you!

Website

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