I’ve played tabletop roleplaying games for almost 25 years and the more I explore this hobby, the more ways I find to enjoy it. My wife is also a gamer and enjoys tabletop roleplaying too. This has allowed us to share a very rewarding hobby instead of it being something which separates us, or causes resentment and arguments. I know not all gamers (male or female) are so lucky.
Four years ago, we were also very fortunate to have our first child. We had been trying for almost 10 years and had given up when we were surprised with a son. Having grown up in our gaming household, he is quite accustomed to seeing our friends come over to play board games, card games, or tabletop roleplaying games. At age four, he now wants to play a “miniatures game” with Mom and Dad. Unfortunately for him, he’s not mature enough to understand the rules of most of our games. Thus began my search for a kid-friendly tabletop RPG.
I found several, but many of them assumed a lower age limit of 8 to 12 years old. I could have simply played with no rules, but he wanted a character sheet, a miniature, and use dice to fight monsters - just like Mommy and Daddy. So, I needed to use SOMETHING he could understand. I was about to make my own simple system which I felt in my gut was going to be a big exercise in reinventing the wheel when I found the Hero Kids™ RPG by Justin Halliday of Hero Forge Games. (http://herokidsrpg.blogspot.ca/) It was just what I was looking for.
First off, it is designed for kids aged four to ten, which suited my situation to a tee. Secondly, it is fun to play, both for him and I. Thirdly, there is a decent amount of material available. Play aides, game expansions, and adventures. Characters have four attributes, each of which use a pool of D6s to rate them. Action resolution is measured by comparing the highest number rolled to task difficulties of 4 to 6. The more dice you have, the more likely you are to have a successful die roll. Combat is a simple opposed roll of the attacker’s attack roll versus the defender’s armor die roll. This makes for a simple, low math approach to dice resolution that is entirely appropriate to the youngest players while still allowing variety for the older ones.
Characters also have a number of health boxes, each successful attack removes one box of health - reach zero Health and you are knocked out. Each character also has three special abilities they can perform either in or outside of combat, and a handful of skills and equipment. Characters aren’t intended to advance under the core rules, however long term character advancement isn’t the focus or intent of this game, simply having an adventure is the purpose. By the time your child is ready for system supported character advancement, they are likely also ready for a more complex system anyway. Is it a perfect game? No, of course not - no such thing can exist. But Hero Kids™ is very close to the perfect young child’s tabletop roleplaying game. Even if you find there is some aspect of the game which is missing for you, it is a very easy game to house rule or expand upon.
As a parent and an experienced gamer introducing a young child to RPGs, I do caution you before you add anything to THEIR game. Seriously evaluate if what you’re adding to the game is for your kids benefit or yourself. It’s easy to keep adding to the system until it becomes as full and versatile as an adult’s rpg, at which point it is no longer playable by your child… If they are having fun and all their needs are being met, then the game is fine. This doesn’t mean nothing could ever be added to Hero Kids™, in fact over the next few posts I will be showing some of my ideas and additions. Just be sure it is something they will appreciate the inclusion of.