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Unseenmal
2017-09-17, 12:15 PM
My son has watched us gaming for a few years. I didn't want to pressure or force him to play so I waited to see if he would want to. Recently, he's expressed interest in playing. I've shown him all of the games I have books for explained what the game was about and he's chosen D&D. I have books for 3.5, 4E and 5th. I want to do 5th since neither of us have any experience with it and it would be good to learn it...finally...

The issue I have is how to present him with making a character? He likes the idea of wizards. I figured that would be too much for him to handle for his first PC. He's smart enough to understand them but he might be overwhelmed or frustrated at first. I don't want that discouraging him. Should I let him go with it or maybe make a few PCs to let him choose one? Or maybe present him with a fighter/spellcaster type like a paladin that could give him some spells but mostly beat up the bad-guy with your sword?

Anyone that has run games for younger kids or anyone really want to put some ideas of what worked/didn't work. I'd really appreciate it.

-Unseen

Johnny Krillers
2017-09-17, 01:36 PM
I'd say let him play who he wants, but get to the bottom of what he thinks a wizard is, explain the classes to him in simple terms if you haven't already, "Wizards know spells but when they are out of spells they're in trouble, they're easy to hit and don't have many hit points, the opposite is the fighter, no magic, just a sword, but high armor and hit points" then maybe describe the ones in between if he isn't a fan of the trade-offs, (remember that sorcerers a a little more survivable but still magic maybe) walk him through character creation and take the time on it describing each and every decision and what they mean as you go, if he does go wizard you may want to pick his spell list to start with but let him add on and tweak as he wants going forward. I'd make the concessions to his age as you DM not as the two of you set up because he'll likely have more fun if it's his character, not the one he picked out of his options you made for him. That's just my two cents though, good luck :D

Thrudd
2017-09-17, 01:48 PM
I don't know, 7 is too young, imo, for actual D&D. Not yet intellectually developed enough (not a judgment, just a fact about human cognitive development). Still learning basic arithmetic functions, reading and writing is just starting, just a lot of things taken for granted as requirements for playing these sorts of games haven't been learned yet.

I'd think that the most appropriate thing you could do for a D&D-like game at this age would be to greatly simplify everything. Do it as a "choose your own adventure" sort of game. Use the most basic version of the classes and create a character for each - there's a fighter, a wizard, a cleric and a thief - have a little picture or a mini for each one. You choose the equipment and spells and everything, don't even worry about the ability scores. Make a card for each ability the character can use with big letters and a picture. Keep the numbers small. Simplify the mechanics down to a single roll of a die with a target number for whatever it is. Don't even worry about all the numbers, the rules, all the different spells, nothing.

You describe to him the scenario, something he can easily understand like he needs to rescue somebody from a monster. Describe a decision junction and give him two or three very clear choices. Perhaps let him have all of the characters, one of each type - Knight, strong and good at fighting (wins when fighting is appropriate, has a card for shooting a bow and arrow, and a card for fighting with a sword) - wizard, smart and has magic (have a few simple spell cards each of which should be a clear solution to something that is presented during the game - like a fire spell, an freezing/ice spell, a wall spell) - cleric, friendly and good at protecting others (have a healing card to revive someone, and a card that lets him talk to someone and make them friendly) - thief, good at sneaking and getting into places (a card that lets him sneak somewhere without being seen, a card that lets him climb over a wall, a card that lets him unlock a door). Think in terms of the old-school text-based adventure games. "find key, unlock treasure chest" "goblin appears - use sword!" "fire is blocking the path - use water spell!"

It's a fun idea to encourage the imagination of a kid like this, but you need to keep it at a level that is stimulating and engaging for his age and not too frustrating. It could be a fun way to practice math and language skills and problem solving. Very clear choices, very simplified numbers and mechanics. When there is a conflict, roll a die. Either tell him what number he needs to get, or roll an opposed die, and if he gets higher then he wins, if you get higher then he takes a hit and someone loses a hit point (tracked with glass counters or pennies, or have him do addition and subtraction on a paper or dry erase board). Keep HP to the single digits, probably five or lower. Have enemies with even less, maybe only one hit. When he chooses an appropriate solution and the roll is good (or even if it isn't), then he should succeed.

If he really gets it and starts getting bored after playing a few times, then you can slowly introduce more complexity - like new types of characters, choosing which ones to take and leaving some behind - more variability with dice rolls, more open-ended problems with multiple solutions, abilities with multiple uses, etc.

hymer
2017-09-17, 02:23 PM
I recall introducing a friend's younger sibling to RPGs. I think establishing an archetype of the character is probably a good idea, so both you and he know what you're dealing with. Is there a wizard-like character from a show he watches, which could form a starting point? If so, I'd go with giving him some 'spells' (homebrew if needs be) that work like that archetype's abilities, and keep the number low.
In fact, 4e may be better on that account, come to think of it. Casters are about as simple as martials, unlike 5e.
But who knows, maybe he doesn't want to play a wizard. You should probably talk to him about it. Maybe he would rather play a burly warrior, in which case you can use 5e at least as well as 4e.

Oh, and I'd go easy on the rules. Just choosing which monster to whack or pew-pew this time around is probably enough complexity. Maybe do the math before rolling (I'm guessing you'll need to do it for now), so he knows what he needs to roll to hit, e.g. And ignore things like attacks of opportunity and disadvantage for using a ranged attack while threatened. Appy it to he enemies, but not to the PC.

A friend of mine uses (or used at least) small treats for when his daughter and her friends accomplish something specific but abstract, such as flanking correctly having you score a smarties. I don't know how you feel that would work.

Quertus
2017-09-17, 03:24 PM
Having taught multiple 7-year-olds to play 3e D&D, allow me to start by encouraging you in your endeavor.

My first piece of advice is this: if he wants to play a wizard, let him play a wizard.

My second piece of advice is: go over everything with him before the game. And by "everything", I mean make sure that he understands the mechanics, the charter sheet, the dice, the premise of the game. Them run him through a couple of 1-on-1 scenarios, where you have him cast spells, make attacks, make saving throws, etc. Perhaps more importantly, make tactical and, hmmm, "ethical" decisions. Let him make his choices, but, afterwards, go over what his other options in that scenario were. Get him comfortable with playing, and thinking like a gamer, before the actual session starts.

My third piece of advice: give him a character with options. A fighter / wizard gish may make a good first character. Wizards have issues that their spells run out (in most editions of D&D, at least) - give him a character who can still contribute, and a character who can try different things, to help him see what he enjoys playing.

Lvl 2 Expert
2017-09-17, 03:40 PM
(remember that sorcerers a a little more survivable but still magic maybe)
In the hands of most 7 year old first timers wizards and sorcerers would play virtually identical anyway, they're not going over the full spell list after every long rest. Druid or warlock might also work pretty well. They're complicated classes, but as long as there is one part he gets he gets to contribute. If worst comes to worst and he really starts feeling useless give him a special amulet that lets him cast arcane magic while wearing heavy armor, or some extra skillpoints, or a +something sword, whatever can fix the problems with what he wanted to do with the wizard (or another class) but that didn't work.

You're probably going to have to hold his figurative hand a lot, but as parents you're doing that anyway.

And if he loses interest after one session, well, better than not having tried.

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-17, 03:46 PM
7 year olds vary a lot, we need to know a lot more. By 7 I was fully capable of reading novels, I just didn't want to (did by the time I was 10, but that's another age entirely). So before answering the query we really need to know more.

My suggestion would be something like Basic Fantasy (http://drivethrurpg.com/product/140455/Basic-Fantasy-RPG-3rd-Edition?term=basic+fan&test_epoch=0), which is basically old BECM with the confusing bits removed. So basically the simplest version of D&D with ascending AC added.

2D8HP
2017-09-17, 11:17 PM
My suggestion would be something like Basic Fantasy (http://drivethrurpg.com/product/140455/Basic-Fantasy-RPG-3rd-Edition?term=basic+fan&test_epoch=0), which is basically old BECM with the confusing bits removed. So basically the simplest version of D&D with ascending AC added.

AW's suggestion of Basic Fantasy sounds good to me.

My first experience with D&D (and RPG's in general) was when I was ten years old (despite/because it said "for adults 12 and over" on the box), when I got the 1977 "Basic set", with no one else to play with at first my 7 year old brother was my first victim player that I DM'd.

He took to it well enough and continued playing RPG's for at least a decade.

Fast forward 30+ years and I played the DUNGEON! (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1339/dungeon) board game with my son, which he liked a lot, but a couple years later when he was 10 years old, and I got him the 5e D&D Players Handbook, he just wasn't interested (he preferred card and video games).

Maybe I should have tried earlier or later?

johnbragg
2017-09-17, 11:55 PM
What I did with mine (see thread in sig) when they were 7, 7 and 10 was a very stripped down version of 3rd. Training wheels, using the map out of the BECMI Red Box set (drivethrurpg).

Let the kid be a wizard. By which I mean let the kid's character use Magic! Magic to fry his enemies, magic to heat up his toast.

A wizard is a bad fit for a solo campaign--is there someone who could team up with him and play the muscle/ bodyguard?

Use it to teach the kid how to play D&D.

weckar
2017-09-20, 07:37 AM
I'm going to offer some rather contrary advice in reflection on an experience I had myself around the age of 7.

A famile friend tried to introduce me to an RPG (I rather forget which at this point), but through simplifying it for me just left me bored and uninterested. For some kids, the complexity of the game CAN be the draw!

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-20, 08:27 AM
I'm going to offer some rather contrary advice in reflection on an experience I had myself around the age of 7.

A famile friend tried to introduce me to an RPG (I rather forget which at this point), but through simplifying it for me just left me bored and uninterested. For some kids, the complexity of the game CAN be the draw!

That's what I like about Basic Fantasy, the complexity is roughly Fighter < Thief < Cleric < Magic-User (because the cleric isn't completely reliant on their spells), but none are too complex. The most complex you get, the wizard, is comparable to simpler 5e characters. Some seven year olds won't care about complexity and just want to be the guy who slays the dragon, some want to avoid complexity, and some do want complexity. That sounds like two fighters and a mage, or potentially a thief, a fighter, and a mage depending on who child 1 wants to be, to me.

I've discovered however that adults can love simple RPGs. Most don't care about mechanics beyond 'how do I roll skills', and so games which bring complexity down to that level are great. I personally love games with narrative mechanics but simplified simulation mechanics, I don't care about abilities that much but go nuts over Aspects or similar things. I have a friend who hates all that and likes simulationist games. I have fun with his games, although the best compromise for us is something like Mutants & Masterminds.

As a side note, I do not recommend using Fate for this. I love it, but it's very much a 'you know the basics, now let's go for something that simulates stories', which is not what you want for a seven year old as the complexity is in the 'wrong' place (I plan to introduce my Writer's Group to it in October though, because I think they'll take to it like a bunch of people who love stories will to a storytelling system, thankfully I remembered it's on my Kindle and I don't have to convince my dad to let me dig through storage).

ElChad
2017-09-20, 09:26 AM
Agreeing with everyone here, go with a Wizard, especially in 5e since Wizards have a basic Fire Bolt as a can trip, so they'll always be able to cast something. As for creating the character? You make it yourself at some point, then bring him in to fill in the "most important details" (name, age, hair colour)

My advice is to make it simple and feel like a choose your own adventure bed time story. He's a level 1 wizard adventurer traveling to save the day, with each session being a simple easy self contained quest with clear direction and purpose. Start him off facing Pesky Goblins, Rats, Wolves at first. Nothing too hard at first as D&D can feel overwhelming at first. Over time, gradually increase the difficulty and introduce concepts as he learns and wants more out of it.

Mark Hall
2017-09-20, 10:29 AM
I have actually done this! Mind you, it was long enough ago that YOU might be the 7 year old I taught to play D&D, with a 7 year old of your own, but...

Anyway, practical advice: KISS. Don't worry about strict adherence to the rules so much as conveying the concepts. If he wants to be an elf wizard, create something that looks like an elf wizard, and has some neat abilities based around being an elf wizard. He has some spells, which he can give to you and cross off his list to use. He has some weapons. He's an elf, so he can sneak. And then play a game of storytelling, with dice to tell you how well he did. The d20, you let him know that higher is better, and encourage him to add his bonus to what shows up on the die. The other dice for damage, and so on.

As he gets older and more comfortable with the game, you can bring in more rules adherence.

Be prepared for unexpected solutions. My 7 year old decided that the kobold hiding in a farmer's barn needed a friend, not a sword in the gullet. I had people start treating him worse because he was friends with a kobold, and he fought back about it.

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-20, 11:15 AM
Be prepared for unexpected solutions. My 7 year old decided that the kobold hiding in a farmer's barn needed a friend, not a sword in the gullet. I had people start treating him worse because he was friends with a kobold, and he fought back about it.

I don't see why this is an unexpected solution, I've had plenty of adults playing games that would have decided to talk it out with the kobold before engaging in the time sink of combat. Not exactly become friends with it, but certainly come to some form of arrangement.

Quertus
2017-09-20, 11:58 AM
Be prepared for unexpected solutions. My 7 year old decided that the kobold hiding in a farmer's barn needed a friend, not a sword in the gullet. I had people start treating him worse because he was friends with a kobold, and he fought back about it.

Good advice in general, but especially for kids. Awesome story, btw.

That having been said, a child seeing a small, weak creature hiding, and deciding it needs a friend, is surprising? It's not guaranteed, certainly, but it sounds like something I'd expect to "ding" on "top X answers on the board - name something a child adventurer would do when...".


I don't see why this is an unexpected solution, I've had plenty of adults playing games that would have decided to talk it out with the kobold before engaging in the time sink of combat. Not exactly become friends with it, but certainly come to some form of arrangement.

Well, I've had adults be quite friendly with such creatures. Then again, I've also had adults torture (human) children for information, to the point of death, so...

Aliquid
2017-09-20, 12:32 PM
I had a 5 (almost 6) year old playing a sorcerer with 3.5, it worked out just fine. Sorcerer is much cleaner for someone of that age than a wizard.

He is 7 now and we are still on the same campaign, but I switched to FATE Accelerated rules, which he is liking much better.

Mark Hall
2017-09-20, 12:41 PM
I don't see why this is an unexpected solution, I've had plenty of adults playing games that would have decided to talk it out with the kobold before engaging in the time sink of combat. Not exactly become friends with it, but certainly come to some form of arrangement.

Because, IME, a lot of people when presented with "Monster in the attic that tries to shoot you" respond with "stab it until it stops moving."

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-20, 01:05 PM
Because, IME, a lot of people when presented with "Monster in the attic that tries to shoot you" respond with "stab it until it stops moving."

Ah, that's the problem, the games I'm in generally have combat encounters start with a chance to talk your way out of it, we do tend to shoot back if shot at (and at least in my games PCs get to be better shots with better weapons).

JPicasso
2017-09-21, 07:44 PM
Currently gaming with my brood, 6, 8, 8 and 14. I made pre-generated characters and by level 3 they all have something "cool" to focus on. The sorcerer has a animal companion (so we can do away with the meta on spells) The warrior has swords that can turn on fire, the paladin has a lot of his abilities buffed, and the thief (arcane trickster) has his spells altered to reflect the ancient dwarven magic book he's learning out of.
I'm always surprised at what they come up with!
I'm pretty loose with the rules, and try and put as much puzzle or task time as combat. Going well so far.

For your solo adventurer, I would give him some npcs that he can control to help with his game.

Good luck, and have fun!

Tinkerer
2017-09-21, 11:09 PM
Coming from first hand experience on the other side one thing which my brother did that I absolutely loved was to make the character generation a mini game unto itself. For instance when picking spells instead of handing them a pre-picked selection of spells do a session 0 where they go through the wizard school and they get to pick whether they want to study under the gruff Mr. Blahblahblah to learn the fundamentals of combat magic or under the eccentric gnome Thwibbledorf to learn utility magic or under the stern gaze of Archamen to learn defensive magics. Decide if they want to engage in Wizard sports and gain an extra point of Constitution or hit the books extra hard and gain another point of Intelligence. Even a quick run through can give the kid a lot more attachment to the character. That was my experience anyway.

Segev
2017-09-22, 10:23 AM
I suggest two things, either in concert or alone:

1) Look into games like Descent or Hero Quest. They're board games that do the dungeon crawl thing. Get your son together with 3 or so friends of his and let them play the heroes. You'll feel very in your comfort zone if you DM regularly. The mechanics are simple, and a good introduction to the concepts behind RPGs. You can also let him play all of the hero characters if you want, making it a viable 2-player game.

2) Let him play what he wants. Just take the time to explain everything, step by step. Let him ask questions. He'll either be interested, or he'll get bored. Observe his interest level and let him take as much of the lead as possible. You're his tour guide. And his teacher. But he's directing the lessons to where he wants to go.

If he gets bored, don't let him get discouraged. Let him do something else. Or just use a vastly simplified system (whether you ignore mechanics in 5e and just let him goof around in cooperative storytelling, or go for actual simplified mechanics or something like (1) above).

Remember, too, that a significant part of his interest may just be in playing with Daddy. Don't discourage him from things he wants to try, but accept it if he decides it's not what he wants, and just ... make it quality time with him.

Little kids will often take minis games of combat and turn them into "toy soldiers," making up new powers and such as they go along. It doesn't hurt to let them, as long as they're having fun and not interfering with anybody else's.

Play into it. IF they decide they have a knife of ogre slaying that instantly kills ogres, congratulate them on it. But when they say they also have a sword of dragonslaying, feel free to look knowingly at them and say, "I thought it was a knife of ogre slaying." Make them justify their things. And maybe offer them, "However, Bob Bearian [the hypothetical child-player's character] heard a rumor about a dragonslayer who had a sword like that. He died to ogres in the ancient hills a few years ago. Does Bob want to go on a quest to see if the ogres still have that sword?"

As they get more into it, with more interest in resolving whether it's "fair" to be hit or not, or how many times they can be hit, re-emphasize mechanics.

The goal is to have fun playing with your son, after all. Use the rules to assist that.

Mr Beer
2017-09-22, 04:10 PM
I have a friend who has run games for his 7 year old. He found the best way to do it was to present choices, kind of like the 'choose your own adventure' books. If she wanted to do something he hadn't presented, that was fine of course.

dps
2017-09-23, 01:19 PM
I don't know, 7 is too young, imo, for actual D&D. Not yet intellectually developed enough (not a judgment, just a fact about human cognitive development). Still learning basic arithmetic functions, reading and writing is just starting, just a lot of things taken for granted as requirements for playing these sorts of games haven't been learned yet.


I could not disagree more with this. Yes, a young child is of course not be able to read at an adult level, but IMO you could be completely illiterate and still be able to play DnD, as long as you have a DM who is willing to take the time to explain the options you have available and help keep track of the numerical stuff (and presumably a father teaching his own son how to play would be willing to do so). And not being about to read all the rules and handle all the math might actually be better for role-playing purposes by causing you not to focus on the mechanics.

Beneath
2017-09-23, 06:55 PM
I was introduced at 6, using AD&D2

If the kid wants to be a wizard, let him be a wizard. You might want to pick spells for him at first, though, if that's a part you're worried about, or you pick what's in his spellbook (which shouldn't be that many more than he can prepare) and let him pick which ones he wants to memorize for the adventure and which ones not. Give him the opportunity to find scrolls he can add to his spell book as his adventures go.

There's no real need to dumb down the game for a motivated enough kid

Thrudd
2017-09-23, 08:02 PM
I could not disagree more with this. Yes, a young child is of course not be able to read at an adult level, but IMO you could be completely illiterate and still be able to play DnD, as long as you have a DM who is willing to take the time to explain the options you have available and help keep track of the numerical stuff (and presumably a father teaching his own son how to play would be willing to do so). And not being about to read all the rules and handle all the math might actually be better for role-playing purposes by causing you not to focus on the mechanics.

I'm not saying they can't play, but at that age, especially being taught by a parent to a child, I'd think the focus would be more as an educational tool. Use the game as a way to learn arithmetic, practice reading and writing, and develop basic analytical and problem solving skills. Role playing is not a thing little kids need to learn or be taught to do - they already do it, like second nature. If they have a question about something in the rules, show them the passage in the book and have them read it, and try to understand it. Make them add and subtract their gold and HP and XP, check their work, and add up the dice when you roll more than one. If they are playing with other older players, the other players should be suggesting things for the kid to do or asking them for help, so they can learn to analyze their character sheet and scan lists of things for relevant data. Ask their opinion about how something should be handled, and offer other ideas to make them think - How should we get past this cliff? We need to get up there. Does someone have a rope that is long enough? Does someone know how to climb walls? Does someone have a spell that lets them fly? etc.

For a child, the game should not be treated the way it would be for older people, at least not if you really want them to be intellectually engaged and not just shouting about swords and monsters - which they do all the time anyway, running around with friends in the playground/yard.

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-24, 06:15 AM
I'm going to repeat it, different kids will require a slightly different game.

I can't remember how old I was when I was introduced to roleplaying, but because it was my family playing we had one player who was definitely about 7/8. Nobody had any major problems because this was old BD&D, and so not only were the rules simple our dad could just keep the to-hit tables and our classes and levels behind his screen and tell us if we hit. But we still used all the rules, and enjoyed the game.

A bit later I discovered 3e and preferred it because I actually got to read it, but even these days I have more nostalgia for the simpler rules of BD&D which could be remembered after years. Not enough to abandon games like Fate for it, but enough to use such games to introduce people who won't like my preferred ones or won't have enough knowledge for storytelling games (because when you're a kid you haven't yet consumed as much media as the people I play Fate with).