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View Full Version : Non-Violent Quests for Kids? Post ideas!



Raphite1
2019-04-11, 08:28 AM
Hey all, I tend to run combat-heavy games (DnD 5e) as thatís what most of my groups are looking for, but Iím about to run a game for some young kids under 10 years old. Some combat and fantasy violence is fine, but I want it to be a relatively small part of the game. Iím brainstorming ideas for quests that use more skill checks and rp. Please post any ideas of your own here!

(And please donít just say ďwell use a less combat-focused system.Ē Iím not leaning a whole new system for this super casual game, so it wonít be a helpful comment.)

Toric
2019-04-11, 08:57 AM
First, heavily utilize fetch-quests. Fetching items from faraway places, from uncooperative people, from hazardous environments.

Second, nothing beats first-hand experience. There are a number of actual-play podcasts with kids as the players, so give those a listen to see how others DM for kids. My current jam is "Dungeons and Dragons and Daughters" featuring 8-year-olds (at the start of the series) as the main players.

Brookshw
2019-04-11, 09:27 AM
Puzzles are always good, you can run a whole dungeon based around puzzle solving. Things like what combination of levers to pull to get to point B or access different McGuffins. Fast moving underground stream that needs to be crossed, monsters in the water that can't be wiped out. How to cross?

Competing interests - two groups want the same thing, is there a way to provide a substitute for one of the groups, for them to share it, etc. Examples can be access to hunting lands, brokering deals between merchants, etc.

Mysteries - a good old fashion "who done it?". Murder mystery, interviewing people, investigating, etc. Subcategories can include -miss-accusations, one party thinks the other "did the thing" (stole an heirloom, etc), can the party figure out what really happened? Add elements where the accuser and accused will come to blows if the truth doesn't come out. (truth is, there was some other intervening force that "did the thing")
-Ghost stories, figure out what happened to cause a ghost to appear and how do you fix whatever the "wrong" was that caused the appearance? Can't kill the ghost, it'll just come back the next day.

Themrys
2019-04-11, 09:39 AM
Send them into the wilderness and let them roll skill checks for finding their way, finding food, being able to climb a mountain and cross a river. Classic travel quest.

For rp within the group, let them choose characters who have unjustified prejudices against each other or whose personalities clash, but aren't completely incompatible.

Letting everyone play what they want and only asking them to tone it down a bit if necessary will probably achieve this, depending on how different the children are.

(My current group has a male character from a matriarchal society and a female character from a patriarchal society, and the female character, due to her background, is suspicious of men. Fortunately, she voiced this before conflict could escalate to violence, so I am confident we can solve this with rp. I expect it willl be very entertaining. The fact that she is a petty criminal while he is a paladin will serve to make things interesting in the future - though I suggest you don't allow that latter one in a group with kids, it could escalate too much.)


How mature are the kids? I mean, I have known kids who would probably have wanted to murder their way through fantasyland. If there's kids in the group you don't know, be aware that all problems you get in groups with adults, you can also get in groups with kids. Just ... probably worse.

Edit: Thinking about this ... you probably want to randomly assign them differences in culture and ideology for the in-group conflict. New players and young people tend to have problems separating player from character. I once was in a game where everyone was out to murder at least one other person (or so I suspect) all assigned by the DM. It was all in good fun, which I suspect it wouldn't have been if conflict had arosen from player personalities.

Seclora
2019-04-11, 09:57 AM
Give them a couple of recurring villains who are not overly threatening, but who they can get a little attached to. Have them show up to foil the heroes every quest or so. Keep the mood light, whether or not the stakes are high or low.

Depending on your players, they may be okay with combat. Social and Adventuring goals should be fine though. Fetch quests, negotiations with otherworldly things, and exploring new lands are all good quest lines.

zlefin
2019-04-11, 10:03 AM
Hey all, I tend to run combat-heavy games (DnD 5e) as thatís what most of my groups are looking for, but Iím about to run a game for some young kids under 10 years old. Some combat and fantasy violence is fine, but I want it to be a relatively small part of the game. Iím brainstorming ideas for quests that use more skill checks and rp. Please post any ideas of your own here!

(And please donít just say ďwell use a less combat-focused system.Ē Iím not leaning a whole new system for this super casual game, so it wonít be a helpful comment.)

while it's made for pathfinder, and I haven't played it, and does have a fair portion of violence; the "we be goblins" module, which is available for free, might be suitable, or at least have some suitable components.

JMS
2019-04-11, 10:08 AM
Give them social stuff - I've run games with kids ranging from 1st to 6th grade, where the party ran around interrogating and stalking suspicious figures at a party, using social focused spells and abilities - My brother made a wizard with 8 in all physical stats, and no attack cantrips, + sleep as their one attack spell

Malphegor
2019-04-11, 10:09 AM
Under 10? Rad.

1. "Spells of the Swamp" The main spellcaster of the group's spells aren't working right (when out of combat), and a random monster is being summoned instead of the desired effect (if you want them to be non-combat, have the monsters be weaker ones that generally try to flee). The group must go and take their friend to a famous swamp witch who claims to know how to cure any aliment, magical or not. In reality, the swamp witch is attempting to steal the magical power of the main spellcaster so that she can break the boundary of the swamp in which she has cursed herself in error to remain in.

2. "Citadel of the Spider Queen learns to ride the Worm" the group have encountered a drow city that has become exposed due to a recent earthquake. Weakened in the daylight, the drow agree to an uneasy truce with the surface world whilst they bolster their power to create a gem that will mind control the culprit. Meanwhile a lot of worm-like creatures make their presence known. The group must decide whether to allow the drow to build their superweapon that will control the worms (including a lots-of-templates Purple Worm) or stop it. Downplay the weirder bits of drow society like the whips and gender inequality (still have ladies in charge, but less.. um... weird.), just have them be really intense and strict.

3. "The Blighted Tower of Morhig" Black clouds appear on the horizon, and all plantlife perishes near where the party is. Investigations begin, but it seems to come from an ancient ruin, half-buried in rubble and shale from a long forgotten rockfall from a nearby mountain with a load of traps now activated inside, which contains a floating magic gem, black, which slowly pulsates as it spins. The gem is shaped like an arrow, and looks like it recently just passed a small stone of similar material to the gem itself in the wall. Turning the gem activates the LifeBlight effect, which destroys all vegetation in a 20 mile radius. Removing the gem prevents this ever occuring again.

Imbalance
2019-04-11, 10:17 AM
Ever seen the old D&D cartoon? ...or the Smurfs?

DMThac0
2019-04-11, 10:50 AM
When I got my kids into D&D (8-9yrs old) I had to consider the same thing. Both my kids were in Tae Kwon Do so I figured they had enough of the combat from that, I wanted D&D to be a family fun night. I came up with an idea, ran it by my wife, and we took off with it.

I wanted the adventures that the kids took on to have some sort of moral dilemma. I began to think about Aesop's fables, Grimm/Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, or the various parables from the Bible. Stories that could teach the kids something while also making it engaging and entertaining. I also stole from Disney movies and various kid's cartoons, just gathering a large collection of ideas and figuring out how I could mix them all together.

I ended up creating a "Journey to be a hero" type campaign for the kids. They started off as these level 1 characters that were the basic concepts they had and I asked them questions about the motivations for their characters to become heroes. My son was a Druid and wanted to be a powerful hero that could take on any challenge, my daughter was a Ranger and wanted to save the animals. So off we went, they were tasked to learn what it was to be a hero of the realm.

They ran into people that needed help figuring out different problems, theft, deception, cheating, kidnapping, and more. They got into some combats, but only if they started it or if it was part of their training. The first location for their training had them using various skills on their character sheets to help them understand the numbers and abilities. The trip to the second location had them engage with a griffon for no reason, I had the encounter end and the next morning they woke to a family of griffons missing a parent. In the second training area I introduced critical thinking puzzles, things to get them to think outside the box. Here they also got into training combats where they got to learn about the attacks, spells, and special abilities their characters possessed.

I impressed upon them to act however they wanted, this way I could use the game to help show what type of reactions the world would have to their actions. They acted naturally, making decisions both based on their characters and how they thought personally. It helped me show them that acting impulsively wasn't always the best approach, and that there was a time to be silly and a time to be serious. My wife played a character along with them, and when it was necessary, she'd corral them and keep them focused on whatever was important at that time. All in all it was a blast, the kids eventually got the hang of the game, it helped with their math skills, critical thinking skills, and more.

When it comes to non-combat themed quests and missions, think about a moral dilemma, a social skill, critical thinking, or any other aspect of that nature that would make a good lesson. Then build a quest around that, give it some meaning in game, and let the kids go at it. Make sure to keep the goals clear and well defined. Also make sure that there is a definitive success and failure result, don't leave any ambiguity. Don't be afraid to sprinkle in some combats, just like adults, kids want to feel powerful. Lastly, kids will buy in a lot easier than adults, but they will stay engaged for shorter amounts of time. If you want to keep their attention longer make their impact on the world blatantly obvious, the more they can see their choices affect the world, the more they'll want to stay engaged.

Honest Tiefling
2019-04-11, 12:33 PM
Perhaps a quest to find someone in the woods? Might be a good way to teach kids how to handle themselves if they get lost in a wilderness area if that's relevant.
I think wilderness exploration, as others have mentioned, is a good idea. Perhaps the party needs to brave some wilderness (magical or not) to deliver messages to shake things up a bit socially.
I think this might be better for older kids, but what about trying to help or communicate with someone who doesn't (or can't) speak their language? Could be an elf that doesn't speak common or even a magical wolf with human-like intelligence, but no ability to do much more than bark.
If the kids can handle it, perhaps ghosts? In many systems you can't really hit them anyway. What if the ghost just wants their grave/shrine to be cleared and to check up on some descendants? The ghost might either be fussy and needs to be calmed down, or can only communicate properly in certain ways.
What about a festival, with various games? Archery, wrestling, games of chance can all work. To draw upon what DMThac0 said, perhaps someone is cheating at the games and the party can either stop it or try to do the same themselves. Someone might even be stealing fair food, which could lead to a more lighthearted investigation.

Segev
2019-04-11, 01:15 PM
A sorceress has hired the party to babysit her half-demon toddler, who has Jak-Jak's powers.

Alternatively, the sibling or aunt of one of the party's members has been hired to do so, and the baby has run off.

Honest Tiefling
2019-04-11, 01:16 PM
A sorceress has hired the party to babysit her half-demon toddler, who has Jak-Jak's powers.

Didn't Jak Jak turn into fire? And children or not, never give your party access to fire unless you want the whole place being burnt to the ground.

gabado
2019-04-11, 01:43 PM
You are citizens of one of the Kingdoms of Mice in the Castle of a powerful human lord. Your King, Lord Whiskers Von Cheesewheel has planned a festival to commemorate the vanquishing of the vile Cat, Baron Scratch. He has asked you to summon the ruling families of the other Mouse Kingdoms and to retrieve tasty vittles for the feast.

You will explore through the walls and crannies of the castle, meeting with other communities of rodents and inviting them to the festival, then several stealth missions will unfold as you explore through the castle kitchens and dining rooms to find the ingredients your Lord requires.

As a final request, Lord Von Cheesewheel informs you that his son, Prince Whiskers the Lesser, wishes to propose to his sweetheart. For this the King has asked you to procure a bauble, diamond, pearl, or some other trinket from the Humans' Royal Jewelry Box. The rarer items will be harder to procure, but will make the Prince happier, ensuring a good position in the upcoming royal wedding.

tomandtish
2019-04-11, 02:37 PM
Also, a friendly word of caution... Don't assume they want the type of game you think they want.

A friend of mine with three kids (11, 8, and 8) ran the "My Little Pony" rpg for them. He still hasn't recovered from the blood bath they inflicted. Or as he likes to say, "Dahmer, Bundy, and Manson would have been less violent".

And they'd never played an RPG before.

Honest Tiefling
2019-04-11, 02:58 PM
A friend of mine with three kids (11, 8, and 8) ran the "My Little Pony" rpg for them. He still hasn't recovered from the blood bath they inflicted. Or as he likes to say, "Dahmer, Bundy, and Manson would have been less violent".

May not be their kids. Or if they are, they might be trying to prevent their kids from getting the wrong idea and having to run a few sessions of Dahmer and Friends. Probably going to get a few strange looks from the spouse, grandparents, or teachers...

If going the cute talking animal route, I did hear of a book called Pugmire. I haven't played it, but I have heard good things about it. And even if you aren't interested in the system, it'll probably have some quest ideas to plunder. Children can sometimes be more visual, so stealing the artwork might help.

Themrys
2019-04-11, 03:20 PM
Also, a friendly word of caution... Don't assume they want the type of game you think they want.

A friend of mine with three kids (11, 8, and 8) ran the "My Little Pony" rpg for them. He still hasn't recovered from the blood bath they inflicted. Or as he likes to say, "Dahmer, Bundy, and Manson would have been less violent".

And they'd never played an RPG before.


In my experience, it is especially people who never played an rpg before who just want to see how many NPCs they can kill and get away with it. (I myself have always been more interested in storytelling than pointless violence, but I knew teens ... well, had I not known them for a long time, the way they played TheSims would have convinced me they were sociopaths.)

However, if they are not your own kids, you may not want to include things adults tend to deem unsuitable for children, regardless of how much the children want them.

Segev
2019-04-11, 03:44 PM
Depending on how much RP you expect in your G, you might want to consider Hero Quest, if you can find it. Or some very old classic dungeon crawls, where it's just kick-in-the-door style play.

That said, you asked for non-violent, so I will assume you know what your kid-players want.

Knaight
2019-04-11, 06:31 PM
A courier/retrieval campaign with a heavy naval focus could work here. Brave ocean storms to deliver critical messages, navigate deadly reefs at speed to rescue the survivors of a shipwreck, go to far away ports to retrieve hidden objects, smuggle people into and out of the borders of an evil empire, get shipwrecked on remote islands and try to survive while building a new ship to escape, etc.

It transfers well to other environments too. Mountaintops above a sea of poisonous gas? The ships are now draft wyvern pulled hot air balloons, done. Space? Space ships.

Raphite1
2019-04-11, 07:50 PM
Thank you everyone for the ideas!!

Quagmire
2019-04-12, 07:30 PM
Another good idea is to make them agents of some authority figure, like wandering knights who act as agents for the king. They have the authority to and are expected to solve problems and settle disputes, so that is a good source of nonviolent plot hooks. In addition to that, they are supposed to arrest evil people and have them sent back to the kingdom for a trial instead of any violence. That way you provide an easy alternative to killing enemies and if the characters do too much murdrhoboing the king takes away their knighthood and sends other knights to arrest them.

Spore
2019-04-13, 07:47 AM
Ever seen the old D&D cartoon? ...or the Smurfs?

Oddly enough with my infatuation with fey and the Smurfs, I have ever tried to get the show into a game but a few problems are:

Papa Smurf is decidedly an NPC because in D&D terms he would be an incredibly powerful wizard that never prepares his spell slots to be able to react to any problem within the 15 minute solution (and his spell books are incomplete and probably lack any and all damage spells).

The smurfs are generally interchangable and make a good adventuring party, even though only a few really shine and some are getting screwed over all the time. But a simple plot could involve stuff like "the wishing well". Basically a banished wizard gifts people magic items that ease up their work: the farmer suddenly get enchanted farming equipment, until one day he and his family vanish, the baker gets an oven that creates perfect pies etc.

The banished wizard in the well needs his new mind slaves (apply liberal uses of dominate person etc.) to steal the book of the banishing wizard. Along the way, the adventurers have to figure out why people are going missing, they have to resist the temptation of free stuff, and in the finale they investigate the - heavily trapped - wizard's tower. You can even have a few fights in there. Even under 10 y/o see through a thinly veiled combat system and its real use. If you want to make combat the hardest choice, make fights lopsided: They cannot combat a chimera but if they could help it it will guide the way. They can kick the wizard's puppy familiar around but why would they? YOU MONSTER!

Zhorn
2019-04-14, 12:10 AM
Recycle some Zelda-esque or portal style puzzle rooms. Heavy use of cantrips or positioning.

A simple but versatile one is having pressure switches on the ground, Either more than the size of the party, or too heavy for a single person to trip. The challenge can be in getting a non-player entity (mob, ncp, object) to the switch.

Perhaps a giant metal block is on a switch you need inactive. The party has to guide a rust monster to the location without it disintegrating their gear.