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Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a tabletop role-playing game that is played with a small group. Players take on the role of that created character. Players, guided by a dungeon master, use their imagination to explore a fantasy world, complete quests, and battle monsters. D&D is a great way to learn teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Here are some tips for how parents can teach their kids to play D&D:

dm screen
DM Screen with Clothes Pins to keep track of combat order

You need a Dungeon Master (DM)

The DM creates and/or runs the game. They build and control the fantasy world the players populate. Even if you have an experienced DM for your game, a short game, with pre-generated characters is a good idea for new and younger players. Character generation is a fun way to engage your players but can take hours away from playtime. If you are taking on the dungeon master role yourself, starter sets come with easier content that you can read ahead and familiarize yourself with ahead of time to help younger or new players with. There are a few starter sets.

Starter sets:

Pre-generated characters also solves the problem of filling needed rolls. Most successful parties have a tank (a character that can take damage and be on the offensive) , a healer, and a variety or damage dealers.

Distractions will happen.

Plan for breaks in gameplay. New players need time to pick/use powers, will have questions on rules and their roles. Also, don’t take it personally if players lose interest mid-game and wander off. This happens with players of every level, new and experienced.

Start by explaining the basics of the game.

Metal dice in a tray
Metal Dice in a Dice Tray

When starting out in the world of D&D, it’s important to understand the basics of the game. D&D can be complicated. Explain what each player’s role is in the game and what kinds of things they’ll be doing at the table. Some of that will involve teaching them about combat, magic spells, skills, and role-play.

Choose the right age group.

Not all kids are ready to play D&D at the same age. D&D requires hours of focus and sitting. Base gameplay on your players, and work around them.

Teach your child how to roll dice.

In order to play D&D, your child will need to know how to roll dice. This sounds silly. But trust me, teaching your kid how to throw the dice fairly without chucking them across the room will save everyone a lot of time in the long run. Dice trays or bowls can keep dice from accidental rolls across the room and under a couch.

Encourage them to think creatively.

D&D is all about using your imagination. Encourage your child to come up with their character’s backstory to get their imagination going. Try giving them a few prompts to get them started. For example, did your character grow up in a city, a village, a forest? Who taught them to use their skills. Once they start coming up with ideas, they’ll be ready to start role-playing with their new characters.

Then once they begin playing, make sure to have the DM encourage their creative solutions. As they are presented with in-game problems and challenges reward their creativity even if they approached it in an unexpected way.

Make sure everyone is having fun.

D&D is a game, so it should be fun! If someone isn’t having fun, talk to them about what’s not working for them and see if you can help make the game more enjoyable for everyone. Magic spells sound fun, but using them requires experience and access to what they do and when you can use them. Having spells bookmarked or buying spell cards and ready before you start can help stave frustration.

Play together as a family.

Dungeons and Dragons is a lot of fun, but it can be intimidating to learn if you don’t have anyone to show you the ropes. The best way to learn is by playing with friends and family who are already familiar with the game. That way, you can explore the fantasy world together and get everyone’s take on how to play your character. Plus, it’s just more fun to play with people you know and love. So gather up your nearest and dearest and get ready for some serious D&D action. It’ll be a blast!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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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Tabletop role-playing games (RPG) have been around for decades captivating players with unique collaborative storytelling, strategy, and imagination. One very well-known RPG is Dungeons and Dragons, however, there are many more available. These games can serve as a powerful tool for strengthening connections, fostering family bonding, and creating lasting memories. We will explore how playing tabletop RPGs can bring families closer together through gaming.

Encouraging Teamwork and Cooperation

At the heart of any tabletop RPG lies the need for teamwork and cooperation. Players must work together to overcome challenges, strategize, and ultimately achieve their characters’ goals. This collaboration fosters communication and cooperation within the family, as everyone contributes their unique skills and perspectives to the game. By overcoming challenges together, family members build and strengthen their bonds both in and out of the game.

Nurturing Creativity and Imagination

Tabletop RPGs are open-ended by design, offering players the creative freedom to shape their characters, actions, and even the game world itself. This imaginative storytelling encourages family members to think outside the box and develop their creative skills together. As parents and children create new worlds and scenarios, they stimulate their imaginations and nurture a shared love for storytelling, fostering a strong sense of connection.

Developing Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills

Throughout a tabletop RPG session, players face various challenges and dilemmas that require creative problem-solving and critical thinking. By working together to find solutions, family members hone their intellectual skills while also promoting a shared love for learning. This collaborative approach to overcoming obstacles helps families appreciate the value of each member’s contributions. It fosters an environment of support and encouragement.

Creating Lasting Memories Through Shared Experiences

The memorable moments and in-game achievements of tabletop RPGs can become cherished family memories. Whether it’s a narrow escape from danger or a triumphant victory against all odds, these shared experiences become the foundation for inside jokes and stories that bring the family closer together. By recounting and reliving these moments, family members strengthen their bonds and create a shared history that they can treasure for years to come.

Facilitating Open Communication and Emotional Expression

Tabletop RPGs create a safe space for family members to express their emotions and thoughts through their characters. By assuming different roles, players can explore new perspectives and share their feelings in a supportive environment. These games can also open up conversations about real-life issues. These situations encourage family members to discuss their experiences and support one another in their daily lives.

Adapting to Different Age Groups and Interests

One of the great strengths of tabletop RPGs is their adaptability. These games can be tailored to accommodate family members of various age groups and interests. Ensuring that everyone feels included and engaged. Whether you choose a classic fantasy setting, a thrilling sci-fi adventure, or a more family-friendly system RPG system, the versatility of tabletop RPGs makes them ideal for bonding across generations and preferences.

Establishing a Family Tradition

Incorporating tabletop RPGs into regular family gatherings or creating a dedicated family game night can help establish a unique family tradition. This tradition not only brings the family together for regular bonding time but also fosters a strong sense of belonging and togetherness.

Getting Started

There are many resources out there to guide your tabletop RPG experience. Below are a few links for some resources that can get you started.

Final Thoughts

Tabletop RPGs offer numerous benefits for family bonding, from encouraging teamwork and cooperation to nurturing creativity and fostering open communication. By exploring the world of tabletop RPGs and creating their own adventures, families can strengthen their connections and make memories that will last for decades to come.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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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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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Storytelling is a core component of childhood which carries into a love of stories as and adult. For many gamers their love of following a story translates to playing Role Play Games. Questlings has taken that love of story and approached it from multiple directions. Their Kickstarter is live and runs until December 10, 2020, and has successfully funded.

Children’s Books

One way Questlings approached telling stories is through children’s books. Currently the book: So You Want to be a Paladin, is completely finished and ready. The outline and planning for three other books is in the works. The wirtting is complete for, So You Want to be a Mage with the illustrations in progress. The target age for the books is children ages 4-7, and feature children self discovering the ideals they look up to.

Role Play Game

The Questlings world in the books is also the setting of a Role Play Game. This game has a unique feature that I have not seen in other games, the player is actively playing two different characters. The two characters are the child and the inner hero. The child character is the primary character, and when they face a challenge, the inner hero come out. The recommended age of the Role Play Game is eight and up.

Gameplay Incorporates Seven Steps

  • Spotlight a player
  • Move the party, where the Spotlight player choses to move the party one space.
  • Spotlight Discussion, where the Spotlight player askes questions about the new location
  • Challenge Roll, is performed by the Spotlight player when they come to a challenge
  • Fantasy Transition, where the Inner Hero is called upon
  • Team Roll, each player describes how they interact with the challenge and roll
  • Resolution, a discussion occurs about the challenge, and characters collect new items

Safety Tools

To support the comfort of all players on each player card there are three faces to denote how the player is feeling. With these faces, the players can point or speak the color they are feeling to inform the Game Master guide the storyline. One example of this tool in play occurred when the Game Master had a dragon appear and a player pointed to red. The game immediately paused to check in with the player to see what detail they found too intense. The Game Master then changed the size of the dragon to tiny, and the player was then comfortable to proceed. With such young players, this safety tool allows easy communication of what they like, are uncertain about, and what makes them uncomfortable.

Final Thoughts

Questlings provides a familiar world for young gamers to begin exploring the world of role play games. The Questlings two mediums of story books and role play game allows the youngest kids to become familiar with the world. Then, and as they get a bit older the game allows players to explore that world as duel characters. This book and game set may be the prefect fit for families looking to delve into the world of role play games with their kids.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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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Dungeons and Dragons has never been more popular! And I know that so many of you dream of running a wonderful campaign for your family, but are intimidated by the perceived cost. I’m here to tell you that you and yours could be roaming the countryside and venturing into dangerous dungeons without spending a dime.

The internet and a little ingenuity go pretty far nowadays, and, frankly, if the internet can teach me how to fix my furnace, then it can help you play D&D with your kids.

We wrote an article with tips for playing D&D with your kids. You can check it out here.


At its core, Dungeons and Dragons is a shared storytelling game. There are tactical combat rules, but you can eschew or improvise away so many of them that they aren’t all that important. What *IS* important though is a sense of imagination. You’ve been telling your kids stories since they were born. This is an opportunity for them to tell the story with you.

I know some folks might think that’s cheesy, but it’s not. More than half of the fun of running a D&D game is watching what the players do and seeing how they react to your characters and actions. That is even more interesting when you are watching your kids. You’ll be amazed at the wild things they do and the stories they come up with!

Dice Rolling Apps

The internet and meme culture will tell you that you absolutely MUST have 15-20 sets of multicolored dice made from different materials. I’ll admit that they are fun, but they aren’t necessary to play. You have a bunch of different options such as:

  • SIRI (Go ahead. Right now. Ask SIRI to roll a D20.)
  • Free iOS Apps like Dice Ex Machina, Dungeon Dice, or Tabletop RPG Dice.
  • Free Android Apps like RPG Simple Dice, Dice Roller, and Dice – A free dice roller.
  • When in doubt Google it.


You do have the option to purchase the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual from Amazon or your local book store.

However, both the basic rules for Dungeons and Dragons and the SRD or “System Reference Document” are both available on the Dungeons and Dragons Website.

The Basic Rules


The System Reference Document


Note: A System Reference Document(SRD) is a reference for a role-playing game’s mechanics licensed under the Open Game License (OGL). This document is published to allow third party publishers to create content using those rules.

Character Sheets

Another barrier that some people see to being able to play D&D are character sheets. They are important to the game, but they aren’t costly. Firstly, you could just make your own character sheets, but there are plenty of character sheets that you can print (or fill out digitally). Two examples from DMSguild.com are listed below. They are both great free resources that you can use.




All of the tools don’t help much if you need an adventure to run! The first option would be to make up your own. Draw up some maps, write up some NPCs and make the adventure yourself. But, not everyone likes that (or has the time). Fortunately, there are plenty of free adventures you can download from websites like DMSguild.com. I’ve listed four well-rated adventures below, but there are TONS more available.

Follow The Lights


On Her Majesty’s Pest Control Service


A Trilogy of Shorter Adventures





When you see pictures of people playing D&D on Instagram or Facebook they also ways involved gorgeously painted miniatures on beautifully detailed maps. This is NOT a requirement. I played for YEARS using miniatures that I pulled from old board games and chess sets. Bottle caps, Shopkins, and coins are all reasonable.

Maps can be a little tricky, but I guarantee that anyone reason this has a checkerboard or two lying around. You can form your dungeon rooms by placing index cards or construction paper over different parts of the board.

Another alternative is to eschew the tactical part of combat entirely and stick to descriptions.

No More Excuses

So. There we go. I just eliminated all of the objections. You don’t need to spend a dime to play Dungeons and Dragons with your kids. Now get out there and tell some stories (and make wonderful memories while you’re at it)!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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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Wizards of the Coast has announced that they are, once again, crossing the streams and releasing a Magic: The Gathering themed sourcebook for Dungeons and Dragons.

The Mythic Odysseys of Theros is a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition supplement that will be available on June 2, 2020.

Theros is a world in the MtG universe that is heavily influenced by Greek Mythology. It is a world where the gods literally walk among mortals and their stories become intertwined. It’s a perfect place for heroes to find adventure!

“Legends walk the lands of Theros, a realm shaped by deities and the deeds of heroes. From the temples of omen-speaking oracles to the five realms of the Underworld, the champions of the gods vie for immortal favor and a place among the world’s living myths.

Choose a supernatural gift that sets you on the path of destiny, align yourself with one of Theros’s fifteen gods, then carve a tale of odysseys and ordeals across the domains of mortals, gods, and the dead.”

Wizards of the Coast

Sourcebooks are a great source for new character-building options and Theros doesn’t look like it will disappoint. It will include:

  • Supernatural gifts are mechanically similar to character races. They give your character a set of unique traits. (It seems like these will also be
  • They will add new playable races like the Leonin and Satyr.
  • New subclasses include the Bard’s College of Eloquence and the Paladin’s Oath of Heroism.
  • The Theros campaign setting will feature mythic monsters like Palukranos the hydra that will provide a challenge for even the most brave adventurers.
  • Wizards will also introduce “God Weapons” that will have awesome powers. I can’t imagine that these weapons will be easy to balance, but they will make for great stories!

It wasn’t detailed in the press release, but these sourcebooks (The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica for example) also typically include detailed information about the lands, nations, and history of the world. Many of them even include an adventure set in the new world to help get players and dungeon masters alike interested and invested in the new setting.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. What about you? Are you going to pick this one up to play with your family?

Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a franchise that has managed to transform a nearly forgotten 80’s toy property into a cultural icon. The cartoon, created by Lauren Faust, is about to enter its 7th season on April 15th. The toys are a massive hit and you can see merchandise everywhere. But, the franchise will be going in a bold new direction on April 21st.

My Little Pony: Tales of Equestria is an officially licensed tabletop roleplaying game that is being developed by Ninja Division. The game will release just about a week after the 7th season of the cartoon airs.


Tales of Equestria is a pen and paper storytelling game that is designed for two to six players. It will play similarly to other games in the genre. One player will take on the role of Game Master (GM) and the other players will create their own pony characters. The players will then adventure together and overcome obstacles using the power of friendship!

The game will launch with a full color 152-page rulebook that will help with character creation, provide adventure scenarios, and teach the group how to play the game. The goal is to give fans of the series a chance to bring the world to life. Players will be able to use the rulebook to create themselves as citizens of Equestria.

It’s not all rulebooks here though folks. My Little Pony: Tokens of Friendship is a game expansion that includes 12 plastic gemstones to help give the game more visual flare. It also gives younger kids something to play with while it isn’t necessarily their turn.

We don’t know a lot about how the game will play. But, I can confirm that our house is already excited to get our hands on this game. We are HUGE My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fans and we getting this one right away!

Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more info about the game as it comes close to launch!

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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!


Facebook Page

Facebook Community





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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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Plaid Hat Games

1-4 Players

Ages 7+

60-90 Minutes

MSRP: $74.99


Prince Collin clutches his sword tight as the evil minions advance. The glow of magic forms around the end of the Maginos’ staff, accompanied by a faint hum, as the wizard readies a spell. The blacksmith Nez steps forward, swinging his hammer, and lets forth a mighty battle….. squeak?

Mice and Mystics is a 4-player cooperative game where players take the roles of mighty heroes, still loyal to the king, battling against the evil forces of the sorceress queen Vanestra. The catch? The heroes have turned themselves into mice in order to escape the dungeon where they have been imprisoned.

The heroes will face a variety of perils – rats, cockroaches, spiders and centipedes – as they try to escape the castle and save the kingdom. The game plays out over 11 unique “chapters”, each contained in a gameplay session lasting one to two hours. Every chapter builds on the last, weaving together an ongoing story of the heroes’ adventures. The heroes gain new abilities and find different equipment, leading to some role-playing game style advancement as the game plays out.

As a fully cooperative game, there is no “game master” or “overlord” type player controlling the monsters and villains. Instead, players move their adversaries via a programmed/established logic, depending on the opponent, and roll dice to represent the monster’s attack or defense. This allows players to focus instead on working together to control their individual hero or heroes to victory.

Component Quality

First and foremost, Mice and Mystics looks gorgeous. From the evocative cover illustration to the beautifully sculpted miniatures, everything about the game is a treat for the eyes. Each chapter is played out on a “board” built out of three or four of the eight included modular tiles, all painted to evoke the dappled light of the dungeon cell or glow of underground moss, further enhancing the immersion in the world of the game. Players advance from tile to tile either at the edges, where tiles connect, or in a unique manner where mice move up or down a level in the castle by flipping over the tiles to reveal the another level of the same area.

All of the graphic design is fantastically handled as well, with natural textures reminiscent of wood grains and stone throughout. The iconography supports the gameplay and is easily interpreted even by the younger gamers. The custom dice serve many different functions in the game, with different symbols on the same sides of the dice representing everything from searching, defending, attacking and more. There are a number of tokens used for various statuses and special characters (perhaps an overwhelming number for newer players) but each is clearly labeled and easy to read, or explained on a summary page in the rulebook.

A Hero is Born

Each of the six included heroes in Mice and Mystics feels unique and has a personality of their own, further enhanced through story moments scattered throughout the game. All six conform in many ways to fantasy archetypes, for those familiar, but the mouse theme and character development make them feel fresh. Each character will have a moment to shine in the story, be it the matronly healer Tilda, to the shady rogue Filch. The sculpts (That’s artist for “figure”. – Stephen) for the figures are beautifully crafted, but are unpainted. Even the budding painter will want to finish them off to really bring the immersion in the game to its fullest.

While there are six playable characters in the box, only four are selected in most chapters, and different chapters have different setup rules on which characters should be included. Those who are really looking for an RPG experience, where they level one character up through all the stories, may be disappointed in their inability to become too attached to one character. However, the choice works overall in service to the ongoing story.


While the theme of Mice and Mystics hits squarely in the all ages category, don’t mistake the game for easy. The enemies all move and attack with predictable patterns (as one would expect from a fully co-op game) but a timer system, in the form of a cheese wheel, keeps the tension up and the gameplay fast and furious. Filling the wheel, either by delaying too long in a room after the enemies have been defeated, or by the rolling of cheese on the dice when taking enemy actions, results in a “surge” of new enemies appearing. In addition, the page marker advances, moving the players one step closer to chapter end and utter defeat.

Cheese is not always bad, though. Players can earn cheese on their die rolls as well. These cheese are then used to power special abilities, or buy more abilities as the game progresses. The cheese mechanic certainly helps to balance out the unfortunate die rolls, as a missed attack or fumbled defense can result in cheese to help in future turns.

Even with the balance provided by the unique cheese mechanic, Mice and Mystics is a challenging game. With experienced adult gamers, it’s not uncommon to fail 20-30% of the games played. This can be especially frustrating for younger players, and we have often “house ruled” certain scenarios to improve the enjoyment of the younger kids.

The Good, the Bad and the Squeaky

Overall, a lot of what players get out of Mice and Mystics will depend largely on what they come in expecting. While the game has RPG elements, it doesn’t allow the freedom of choice that a true RPG system has. In addition, the levelling system from chapter to chapter may leave the hardcore RPG fans wanting more. For those coming to the game from a dungeon crawl style board game background, the game may feel too dice-dependent and lacking in strategy, especially given it’s fully cooperative nature.

The problem with all these expectations is that Mice and Mystics is none of those things, even though it shares characteristics with them all. In the end, much of Mice and Mystics charm is the knife-edge balancing act it strikes between story-book tale, Dungeon-crawl gameplay and RPG advancement, while still feeling unique from all of those things. If we were to leverage one complaint against the game, independent of expectations, it’s that the game is almost a *must* at the four-player count. Chapters are designed and balanced for four mice heroes, and any lower player count doesn’t result in fewer heroes on the board. Instead, one player just controls more. It’s certainly *possible* to play with three or two (or even one) player, but doing so feels like an incomplete game.


In the end, Mice and Mystics is incredibly successful at what it does well. It creates an incredibly immersive story with gorgeous components and a saturation of theme. With one small-box expansion (Heart of Glorm) and one large box expansion (Downwood Tales) already available, and more sure to come in the future, there is no shortage of stories to experience in the world of Colin and his tiny companions. Given that chapters tend to be quite variable in how long they play out (usually in the 60-120 minute range) the game requires setting aside a full afternoon or evening to play, but it’s an adventure we strongly recommend making the time for.


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