Ive “played D&D” with my son on many occasions – we sit down with minis, dice and some dungeon tiles. He rolls his very own set of dice with no purpose other than the noise they make and then I tell him awesome things happen. He uses his imagination, and the bad guys lose so everyone wins. However this weeks many twitter posts regarding the Heroes of Hesiod kids module got me motivated. After a full reading of @NewbieDM’s kidsRPG rules and a few other sources I sat down and devised something I hoped my 3 year old could grasp. He’s always been a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to computers/games and quite a few other things so I decided to actually provide some structure and rules. The outcome was amazing I never would have thought a 3 year old (well he’s almost 4 now) could get it as well as he did.
I made him a character sheet by allowing him to pick from a large handful of PC-esque minis, then stole some artwork from the internet that coincided opened it in paint and created this. He had only a few things to remember. His armor number, his “attack” dice (d12) and which die to use for “magic” or his “weapon”. I used values corresponding to die size (ex: magic of 1 = d4 melee of 2 = d6) If he rolled higher than his opponents armor by 3 or more on an attack roll I allowed him to roll both for damage and told him his warhammer crackled with lightning as he swung it (I didn’t explain this mechanic to him, I just made it happen). I told him he had two medicine potions, and I gave him red poker chips to represent those, and told him to give them to me when he wanted to use one. I showed him the 10 circles that represented his health and told him when they were all marked off he would fall down and be dying. No initiative, just one monster at a time with him always going first to alleviate confusion. Anything he wanted to do that wasn’t encompassed in the rules I just made him roll for with his d12 and unless it was really low I just gave it to him
A general synopsis of his adventure was as follows: He enters the dungeon, goes straight for the first door bypassing the one at his side – it’s locked “I want to smash it daddy!” so I tell him he can try and pick the lock or smash it, he still opts for smashing. I tell him to roll, he does well, then I tell him to roll and see how bad his hammer smashes the door. He rolls a 6, and with my best sound effects in any DM’ing session to date the door burst open revealing a magical talking brazier of fire. He thinks this is silly, then he tells me he’s going to check into the other room he skipped, I make a kickass creaking door noise and tell him it’s so dark he cant see inside but he hears hissing. I tell him he has a torch, and without any more prompting he tells me he wants to go back into the fire room and light his torch so he can see. Then he proceeds to fight a snake man and strikes him down quickly, the concept of rolling “higher” than a certain number is still one he gets a little confused on, but that’s why we were playing!
To make a long story short he beat up some zombies which he wholeheartedly enjoyed and then fought a giant rock monster who threw fire at him, climbed up to a sarcophagous (I made him do a climb roll, which took him 3 tries to succeed) and found a skeleton holding a health potion – he says to me “He’s sleeping, so I’m going to borrow his potion and when he wakes up we’ll be friends and he can help me fight” so I just let him have it, in his final battle after he made his first attack he interjected before the undead king could make his first attack that his friend the skeleton came in and saved him (he was on his last health potion!)
All in all I did have to remind him to imagine he was his character a few times when he attempted to “jump over” doors as he hopped his miniature over the door, or away from the table to show me his ‘fighting invisible bad guy’ moves. Advise him in when to use his health potions because his health was low, and reminding him all the monsters get a turn as well as him. Overall it was a huge success, I think he now better understands the concepts of turns in a game, he learned some basic math skills as I forced him to count on his fingers when comparing his attack rolls or adding up damage when rolling more than one dice. Most importantly of all he got in some quality time with me, which seems to come rarely lately between school and work and everything else, I’ve included some pics of the action and his character sheet, please do excuse our wonderfully delayed changing of our easter tablecloth