Getting back into role-playing recently myself, I’ve decided to help my older children roll up 3.5 D&D characters. They’re ages 9, 7, and 5. This may seem a little young on the bottom end there, but here’s my reasoning on this. I’ve started role-playing again with a group every weekend. My 7 year old son has expressed an interest and been asking lots of questions. I was 8 when I started playing. My Mom worked at my Uncle’s comic shop, and they hosted games at our house on the weekends for as long as I could remember. Finally, after months and months of BEGGING, they let me start gaming with them. I couldn’t stay up past my bedtime, one of my “uncles” (read: friend of the family. I had more uncles from that comic shop than any one kid should ever have uncles.) would take over my character. Okay, that’s half a lie. I’d usually get myself killed well before then. They didn’t hold back on me, and while it might have been disappointing in the moment, I had a better experience in the the long run.
That being said! My 5 year old is waaaaaay smarter than I was at 8! Haha! My kids are constantly surprising me over how much they grasp at such young ages. So I decided it was time for the older two to, at least, be introduced to the world of table top gaming. Kate, 9, Zane, 7, and Xander, 5, have rolled characters and now we’re just waiting for the time to actually sit down and play.
If asked, I’d say you should wait a lot longer before you start introducing kids to stuff like this, mostly because at the next age range, closer to around 10, they’re normally a lot more mature. But like everything, I think the parents should be the ones to decide if their child is ready for it. Obviously, I’m going to have to be a little more relaxed on some of the rules, and explain things many times, but once they get into it, I think they’re going to have a blast. I know I’m going to have a blast with them. I’ll probably make them little cheat-sheets, so they don’t have to remember or search a character sheet for 10 minutes trying to find something. In fact, I suspect we’ll use the actual character sheets very little. I found a pre-made campaign specifically for beginners, which I’ll probably still cut in half when it comes to encounters and difficulty. I think we’ll end up with a system a lot more like what Nick suggests in his article. But after watching me game, I don’t think my kids are going to let me get away with making them use a six-sided. They’re going insist on using Daddy’s “cool” dice to roll. Haha.
I’m actually pretty excited to start this with my kids. Just like with comic books, cartoons and movies in the theater, introducing my kids to some of my more nerdy passions has become probably my favorite part of being a parent. After they start turning 10, I think we’ll start looking at the exciting world of convention-going…
Just a follow up. The kids and I had our first gaming session. All in all, it was a huge success.
It went like this.
Zane, the human Sorcerer, and Xander, the elven Druid, have both taken a boat to a foreign city. They’ve arrived safely and as they exit the boat they hear someone cry out! (Dun dun dun dunnnn!)
They have to save Kate, the half-orc barbarian, from a group of ruffians trying to kidnap her. From what they over-hear as they rush to her rescue, they plan to force her into slavery.
It was a small confrontation, designed to get them used to actions and combat, and of course, the dice. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, mind you. I did have to talk them into saving their sister in the first place. “Nah. She can handle it. I want to fight a DRAGON!” Then of course there was the occasional “Will you stop rolling the dice when it’s not your turn? Give me those…” or “If you don’t stop waiving around your character sheet it’s going to tear up and then you won’t get to play.” But after they got rolling, it was pretty smooth after that. We played through what is normally nap time, and I got big hugs, bigger grinning faces, and lots of thank yous once we decided to end it. And I’ve been asked at least twice a day since if we can play again. If I’m not careful I’ll drop my own group for this one. They’re a lot more appreciative of my DMing skills, they don’t stand at my backdoor with the door open to smoke, and I don’t feel guilty giving them a “one soda” maximum while we play. Hahaha!
All in all, this was a great idea. I think next time I’ll strip it down even more, maybe do away with them keeping their own sheets, so all they have are dice. I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll trade the character sheets for disposable pieces of paper with basic stats on them. HP and AC, so they understand what’s being rolling and why, and can keep track of their own hit points. I’m not sure yet. I don’t want anything that isn’t necessary and that might make things a little muddled, but I want to challenge them and make it an educational experience as well. I think it’ll take another couple of sessions before we get it set up perfect for us.
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