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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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We love to hear about parents trying new types of game experiences with their kids. We recently found a father on Facebook named Casey (shout out to the RPGs with Kids Facebook group) who not only introduced his six year old son to Dungeons and Dragons, but created an awesome placemat style character sheet to help guide him. Take a look at the picture below. It’s AMAZING.

We thought it was cool enough that we wanted to chat with him briefly about his experience with his son and maybe get some perspective on Dungeons and Dragons with a youngster.

How long as you been gaming?

To be honest, I’ve only been into the tabletop life for 2 or 3 years. But I’m the type to dive in head first and completely submerge myself into a passion. In that time I have become my group’s main DM and have been the one to teach them all the rules. I’ve studied under the YouTube masters to perfect my craft, though I still have a lot to learn.

Be honest, how long have you been waiting to introduce DnD to your son? Were you putting giant fuzzy dice in his crib or what?

Pretty much from the moment he learned to read and do basic math. (Haha)

Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheet 6 yr old

Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheet 6 yr old

We love the character sheet that you made for him. Did you find a template for that online or was it entirely your design?

It was my own design. I remember, starting out, the questions my buddies all asked, and the difficulties they seemed to have. “What do I roll for this?” “Can I use my bow at close range?” “Which one is the d20?” So I just tried to make it as detailed as possible. I made a little bar up top to organize his dice. I labeled his weaponry and drew a picture of them next to it. I added little stickers to his stats to help him know the differences. It really seemed to help. So much so, that I made a v2.0 sheet the next morning.

It looked like he was playing a halfling character based on his name. Was it a stock character? Or did the two of you do any custom character creation?

Ah. Dudley Bumbleroot. This was actually the FIRST PC character that I ever played. Kind’ve a family heirloom. I updated him for 5e D&D but, barebones it’s the same character.

A lot of people that want to tabletop with their kids hesitate because some of their early struggles can disrupt a game groups flow. How quickly did your son take to the game?

By, probably, his 5th turn he was going strong. He was giving the group his ideas and telling them things like, “hey I can fit through this Crack in the wall, right?” I was so proud.

I have a six year old myself and have been thinking of taking the plunge. What advice do you have for me? Anything I should make sure that I do?

Just have fun. Be his buddy. Or if you’re the DM, have another PC be there for him. Kids can pick up on things more quickly than you realize.

He was the only person in the picture when you posted on Facebook. Did you play with anyone else? Or was it a one on one game for simplicity?

I had a couple other buddies with him. He fit right in.
You indicated that you ran the Lost Mines of Phandelver as your quest with your son. Did you have to modify it at all? Or did he pick it right up? He picked it right up. As far as difficulty, that’s a level one adventure, as it is from the starter set. He did have a BIT of an advantage, though. He and the others at the table were level 3 to begin.

What’s next for your gaming group? Are you going to create your own campaign? Or perhaps run some of the prepackaged adventure books Wizards is putting out?

I usually create my own, but they always turn out very linear. I wanted to try my have at something with some depth. Side quests and plot twists, you know? After one session, I’m pleased. I’ll still make you own, but I’m learning new tricks as I go.

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If there’s one word parents dread, it’s “more.”  Once a child latches onto something they like, they want as much as they can get their hands on, whether it’s french fries, piggyback rides, or roleplaying games. As I’ve said before, Hero Kids’ straightforward mechanics make for a great introduction to roleplaying games.  Once a kid decides they like it, though, the challenge comes to keep them in new adventures, a trial experienced Game Masters will be familiar with.  Real life is filled with so many things that eat away at your time that it can be tough to come up with missions for the players, ways to link them together, or places for them to explore.  Even a game as straightforward as Hero Kids requires time and creativity to set up new trials for the heroes.

Adventures in Bayhaven cover art

Adventures in Bayhaven looks like a lot of fun!

Adventures in Bayhaven, by Roving Band of Misfits Press, takes care of some of that legwork for you, alleviating that stress with a series of new adventures, centered in the port city of Bayhaven.  Adventurous kids will interact with the locals, establish themselves as heroes, and carry out acts of bravery. What sets Adventures in Bayhaven apart from the main Hero Kids game is not the list of the twenty-one adventures planned to be released this year (though that is entirely awesome in and of its own right), but the gazetteer and optional rules that come along with the adventures. The gazetteer expands the world, providing information on the city, including a list of inhabitants (complete with descriptions and personalities) and several maps (including an unlabeled map that the adventurers can label…or just color when they are bored).  The consistent location links the adventures together around a central city, providing recurring characters for the players to get to know and work with.  While the adventures are technically all independent, as they all center around the port city of Bayhaven, and given that the Kids will interact with certain characters over and over again, it’s easy to string them together if needed.

Were your hero kids successful in catching a thief?  The captain of the guard is more likely to trust them to escort someone now.  The optional rules allow the players to pick up extra perks from continuing their adventures, up to and including becoming apprentices to assorted adults (and getting the benefits from that job.) If you’ve got dedicated Hero Kids to entertain, Adventures in Bayhaven is a solid route to take.  The sheer number of available missions means they’ll be busy for a long time, and the additional rules and setting information makes game mastering a lot easier.

Take a look at our review of Hero Kids – Space Heroes to see some other content for the game!

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Hero Forge Games Ages 4-10 2-7 players Playtime 30-60 minutes TABLETOP RPG

What happens when your town is in trouble, and all of the adults are off saving people in far-off lands? It’s time for the kids to show off what they’re made of! Designed to be an introduction to tabletop pen-and-paper role-playing, Hero Kids is all about playing, well… heroic kids. The characters are the young yet capable offspring of some of the land’s greatest heroes, who have inherited their parents’ adventurous spirits and impressive talents. Whether it’s facing off against rats who have kidnapped a friend, or trying to protect the local farm from hungry wolves, these kids show that bravery isn’t linked to size.

The rulebook, which is available in print and PDF versions via DriveThruRPG , include the rules, a starting adventure, and 10 different characters to choose from. The rules are fairly straightforward; all of the actions are done by rolling a set number of six-sided dice (which you’ll need to provide), and comparing the highest outcome on each side.

Like any good roleplaying game (RPG), there are plenty of supplements available: extra adventures, new characters, the ever-important loot, and even pets. Or, for those feeling adventurous themselves, you can create your own material, using the information that comes with the basic rulebook as a guide. This will likely come in handy later, as some kids may chew through the available pre-made missions faster than new ones come out. It will also help with older kids who feel they need more of a challenge, as the basic material is a little bit more geared towards the younger end of the age range.

There’s no reading necessary on the part of the players, as there are symbols next to each of the relevant statistics (a shield for defense, a sword for attack, etc.) Math skills are fairly basic: reading a six-sided die, comparing two numbers, and the basic addition and subtraction of getting wounded and healing. The most critical skill, though, is imagination and problem solving. Beginners can be guided and prompted, but there’s a good chance that parents will find themselves surprised by how fast kids pick up on this form of make-believe. As gameplay progresses, concepts like tactics and teamwork can be stressed, helping the young heroes face ever more difficult challenges.

As with many independently published RPGs, Hero Kids does have some grammatical and spelling issues that you might need to watch out for. Keep in mind that this is a simple system, and it does lack one of the basic components of pretty much every RPG: leveling. The game is built to allow for children to easily swap characters after each adventure, with character cards are provided for ten different classes in the basic set. The full PDF bundle offers another ten characters mostly resembling cartoon characters that may be familiar to little gamers. Each character also has a corresponding coloring sheet which will allow your kids to personalize their pre-constructed characters a bit.

Older children who are ready for more complex play might enjoy the blank character cards, which are provided along with simple guidelines on how to build npp steroid your own character. Each card comes with a paper stand-up mini that matches the picture on the card for use on the maps provided with each adventure, and blank cards allow you to draw your own mini.

For gamer parents wanting to introduce their kids to tabletop RPGs, at $6-$15 ($6 gets you a PDF rulebook, while $15 gets you a PDF rulebook, coloring pages, extra features & 9 pre-made adventures), Hero Kids is a fantastic stepping stone to future gaming. For non-gamers looking for a good outlet for their kids’ imagination, this system requires very little additional investment (just a couple of standard dice), and will give your kids hours of creative entertainment!

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By: Kelly Allard

Way back when I was young and sans kids, my friends and I would stay up until the wee hours of the night doing nothing but table-top gaming.  Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire the Masquerade… basically whatever we could get our hands on that went well with a 10-pack of tacos from Taco Bell and 64oz of Mountain Dew.

Now that we’re parents, our nigh-continuous gaming has mellowed to a semi-monthly laid-back game of Pathfinder that ends shortly after our children’s bed time.  Early on, we thought we could let the kids have a movie and we’d play while they were off relaxing in their own world.  We were quite mistaken!

While normally Simba’s harrowing tale of triumph in the face of danger would hold kids enthralled for its entire action-packed 90 minute run, it is apparently FAR less interesting than what the grown-ups are doing.  To save on frustration, we let our little ones join our table.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m excited for the day that my daughter gets the idea of playing a character in more than the “put on a costume and preface my name with princess” kind of way that pre-schoolers have.  However, we aren’t there yet.  We needed a way to make the game fun for her while letting us still play the game.

So, as any table-topping gamer parent knows, there are two incredibly interesting things about gaming for kids (and cats): dice and minis!  We would let her roll for us.  At first we’d call out the numbers, but as time went on, she’d tell US what she rolled.   It was a great way to help her recognize numbers to 20.  Also, as time went on, we could tell her which dice to roll instead of giving her a specific die.

Giving them their real names (in addition to what we call them) is helping her understanding and relation of 3 dimensional objects.  Having one person call it a tetrahedron, while someone else calls it a 4-sider helps her relate the shapes to their make-up.  You can also point out the shapes that make up the flat side, like the pentagons on a dodecahedron (d12).
Now, where things get dicey is modifiers.  My daughter LOVES to be right and isn’t really a fan of being corrected.
Here is an excerpt from a recent gaming session:
Her – “19!”
Me – “Ok, That’s a 24 for me!”

Her – “It’s a 19.”
Me – “Yes, that is a 19, but then I get to add this 5 to it, and it makes it 24.”
Her – “This ‘dice’ says 1 next to 9, that’s 19 not 24, mommy.”

To aid in her understanding of the additive nature of our rolls, we now have a small white board to write the result AND the modifier on.  So, 19 + 5 = 24, for this specific roll.  This gives her an opportunity to see how numbers operate together in simple addition.  Also, it gives her a familiarity with addition notation and an early recognition of symbols associated with it.
Another fun thing to let your little “knowledge sponge” do is count movement squares.  Explain that every square is 5 feet and tell them how many to go – as they count by 1s, you count by 5s.  This will start to give them a basis for “skip counting” and an early foundation for multiplication.  They can move the mini to the final destination but they have to count the path (save double diagonals for a different day, once they’ve got general movement down) and see if it takes more than the number the character CAN move to get to the end.
This teaches them varying quantities and allows them the ability to find their own ways to the answer.  Also, it teaches the basics of the concepts of more than (greater than) and less than.  If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could even write their movement total on a white board, comparing the movement total to the character’s allowed movement (e.g. 20 < 30), laying the groundwork for eventually solidifying their understanding of the concept.

The thing to keep in mind is that whenever you add a child to your game, no matter the age, it is going to take longer.  The amount of time it takes to do something simple seems to be inversely proportional to their age (provided that they are over 6 months or so.)  Or to put it in simple terms: For n>0.5, t=1/n.  Just be patient with them, answer their questions and teach them what’s happening.  Table-top roleplaying games have some amazingly simple math and fantastic gaming concepts.

The math learning is great, but you will also be helping your child learn the skills of playing an open-ended game, with variable results. They will also become familiar with turn-based strategy, roleplaying and working as a team in a (mostly) cooperative environment.

 

Looking for more games and math? Check out more articles here!

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