PDA

View Full Version : New Guy Wants to Teach His Kids How to RPG



chaoschristian
2008-12-10, 12:01 PM
Some time ago a happened upon a link to OoTS started reading it. My kids and I love the comic. That in turn has piqued our interest in playing RPGs. However, I've never played an RPG and neither have the kids.

So, any recommendations on a system/scenerio/resources etc, etc, etc, for a dad to learn and teach his adventurous and imaginative kids (10 and 8 years old)?

Thank you in advance for any help and assistance that you may be able to provide.

Desyth
2008-12-10, 12:08 PM
Start with a pregen adventure. That is the easiest way. That, or find another group that welcomes new players.

Either way check out d20srd.org, buy and read the books for whatever version you want to play and then just start messing around. The rules are just framework to facilitate the story you all are telling, so don't let them limit you or rigidly define how the game goes. If you don't like a particular rule don't use it, and if you forget one that you wanted to use, just go back in time and change what happened on that roll.

TBH, it is almost easier to start with three new players than one really experienced one. You are all on the same level and have the same enthusiasm. You don't have any preconceived notions of how the game should be run, and probably won't get into big rules fights, or let the game effect real world relationships.

As far as versions are concerned, I've heard that 4 is more 'newbie friendly' though I have yet to play it (good ole' 3.5!). There are differing opinions and tons of flame threads you can find everywhere on the internets, but try the general feel of 3.5 from d20srd.org, that is at least free and if you don't like it, you aren't out any money.

Mushroom Ninja
2008-12-10, 12:08 PM
My dad started me out on D&D close to that age range. It's very do-able.

Have a fairly simple quest (like find the ancient sword) with fairly simple characters (like a fighter and a rogue) and fairly simple encounters (like an attack by two orcs).

pirateshow
2008-12-10, 12:48 PM
I would highly recommend 4th Edition to you. The DMG actually helps you learn how to run the game, character creation and leveling up are easy, and the back of the DMG has a simple starting adventure that's designed to teach you how to run the game as it teaches the players how to play, one step at a time. Playing a fancy magic-using class is no more complex, rules-wise, than playing a fighter or rogue, so your kids will get to be whatever they want to be. It also has a strong miniature wargame component to the combat system, which makes it visually appealing. Have fun!

The Mormegil
2008-12-10, 12:58 PM
I also recommend 4E. At least get your hands on a copy of the DMG (Dungeon Master's Guide) and read through it, as it explains how to DM a game very well. Then go back playing any game you want! ;)

EDIT: Also, you can always ask here on the forums if you need help, there's lots of people that will probably help you, if you ask nicely...

Heliomance
2008-12-10, 01:01 PM
I recommend 3.5, being better in every way than 4ed :smallbiggrin:

[/flamebait]

Duke of URL
2008-12-10, 01:03 PM
Assuming you want to play D&D, I'll throw in some free quick-start resources for the 3.5 edition:

As already mentioned, the online SRD (http://d20srd.org) has most of the rules (legitimately) available online. What the rules do not cover is the character creation and advancement process -- however, to just "try out" the game prior to buying (used) books, try the following "house rules":
Ability scores: Use a preset "array" of scores that each of your players can use in any order they like. The "elite array" of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 is fine for beginners; if you want them to be a little more powerful, perhaps use 17, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8.
Starting wealth: if you don't have the books, use the following "packages":
Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue: One armor valued at up to 50 GP, one shield valued at up to 15 GP, up to 3 weapons (plus ammo, if applicable) with a total value of 75 GP, and an additional 20 GP for general equipment and "pocket change". Bards get a (common) musical instrument. Clerics and Druids get a spell component pouch and a (wooden) holy/natural symbol. Rogues get a set of thieves' tools.
Monk, Sorcerer, Wizard: Up to 3 weapons (plus ammo, if applicable) with a total value of 75 GP and an additional 20 GP for general equipment and "pocket change". Sorcerers and Wizards get a spell component pouch.
Level them up after finishing two short adventures (see below); don't worry about awarding XP.


WotC has some short online adventures (http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/oa/20030530b) available for free download. These are designed for a party of 4 characters, so either let the boys control 2 characters each or provide them with NPC "companions". (Or possibly just scale down the encounters, but since you're a beginner too, you may have trouble doing so.)

Alternatively, download the material from "Worldwide D&D Game Day 2007 (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4dnd/gameday2007)", which contains an adventure and pre-made characters to choose from so you can jump into the game more quickly to test it out. These are 4th-level characters. You do not need the books if you use the SRD linked above.

Another_Poet
2008-12-10, 01:09 PM
If possible, I suggest you go to a local gaming store and play once or twice on your own without the kids first (most stores have free gaming sessions on a regular basis). Or find someone locally who can teach you the basics in a one-on-one session. You will have a ton of fun once you start plahying with your kids, but things will go more smoothely if you know more about the game than they do. You can keep things on track more and, of course, get that "dad" feeling :)

ap

Desyth
2008-12-10, 01:10 PM
If possible, I suggest you go to a local gaming store and play once or twice on your own without the kids first (most stores have free gaming sessions on a regular basis). Or find someone locally who can teach you the basics in a one-on-one session. You will have a ton of fun once you start plahying with your kids, but things will go more smoothely if you know more about the game than they do. You can keep things on track more and, of course, get that "dad" feeling :)

ap

Good stuff, /agree

Mando Knight
2008-12-10, 01:45 PM
Regardless to whether or not 4E is better or worse than 3.5, it's almost universally accepted that it's easier to start with. OotS was written originally around 3.5 rules, but a lot of the terminology is exactly the same.

chaoschristian
2008-12-10, 01:54 PM
Thank you all for your recommendations, insights and advice so far. I will ask questions. I've learned that this forum is about the best place to go for such. I think the association with OoTS keeps the participants a little bit more friendly and light-hearted.

There is a local comic shop that runs games in back. Mostly card and clix games. I think the owner is trying to dump his D&D stuff because it was all greatly discounted right before Thanksgiving. He's recently dumped all his WH/WH40K stuff. It's a hard business.

There is also at least one known local group. I've signed up for their meet-up group and have contacted them, though I've not heard back as of yet.

I play F&E (Federation and Empire by Amarillo Design Bureau) so I'm not intimidated by rules and we puppeteer on the side, so we're all familiar with story telling. And we also have both tons of minis and LEGO with which to build an adventure on the table-top (yeah, we like to have our fun).

I'll check out the online resources, try to find a discounted version of 4E and see how it goes.

Thank you all again.

Mark Hall
2008-12-10, 03:00 PM
Thank you all for your recommendations, insights and advice so far. I will ask questions. I've learned that this forum is about the best place to go for such. I think the association with OoTS keeps the participants a little bit more friendly and light-hearted.

There is a local comic shop that runs games in back. Mostly card and clix games. I think the owner is trying to dump his D&D stuff because it was all greatly discounted right before Thanksgiving. He's recently dumped all his WH/WH40K stuff. It's a hard business.

There is also at least one known local group. I've signed up for their meet-up group and have contacted them, though I've not heard back as of yet.

I play F&E (Federation and Empire by Amarillo Design Bureau) so I'm not intimidated by rules and we puppeteer on the side, so we're all familiar with story telling. And we also have both tons of minis and LEGO with which to build an adventure on the table-top (yeah, we like to have our fun).

I'll check out the online resources, try to find a discounted version of 4E and see how it goes.

Thank you all again.

It looks like y'all won't have any problem. A few pieces of advice on running games with kids, no matter what edition you play.

1) Let the rules slide a little. Don't allow out and out cheating, but introduce them with simple parts of the rules, focusing on the story, then add complexity as they go along. For example, don't start enforcing opportunity attacks/attacks of opportunity until the kids start asking "If he runs away, can I hit him before he goes?" It's a fiddly bit to the system that doesn't need to be there to have fun... it just makes the tactical wargamers amongst us happy.

2) Be flexible. Kids come up with a variety of creative solutions to problems. Let them work unless they're absolutely stupid (i.e. They opt to heal the kobold instead of killing him, making a friend).

Samurai Jill
2008-12-10, 03:16 PM
Some time ago a happened upon a link to OoTS started reading it. My kids and I love the comic. That in turn has piqued our interest in playing RPGs. However, I've never played an RPG and neither have the kids.
4e D&D is a decent system and closely related to what OOTS is based on. Avoid and shun 3e. 4e is mostly focused on combat rather than storytelling, but it's easy enough to get into and run.

Mando Knight
2008-12-10, 03:18 PM
I'll check out the online resources, try to find a discounted version of 4E and see how it goes.

Sounds like you're well-equipped. If your FLGS doesn't have the stuff anymore, Amazon.com has pretty good discounts on its WotC books, so that's where I got mine.

only1doug
2008-12-10, 03:20 PM
Some time ago a happened upon a link to OoTS started reading it. My kids and I love the comic. That in turn has piqued our interest in playing RPGs. However, I've never played an RPG and neither have the kids.

So, any recommendations on a system/scenerio/resources etc, etc, etc, for a dad to learn and teach his adventurous and imaginative kids (10 and 8 years old)?

Thank you in advance for any help and assistance that you may be able to provide.

Hi CC,

Welcome to RPG's.

I've a couple of Links for you, Here is the D20 SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/index.htm) which contains all the information you need to play DnD 3.5e. character creation isn't really covered as has been mentioned before.
This is WotC's downloadable adventures (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/oa/20030530b) which give you a good range of pre-made adventures to run. (may need some modification)

Here is my report of running a game for my Nephews (10 and 8) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=98057) using one of the pre-made adventures.

Hero Forge (http://www.nzcomputers.net/heroforge/default35.asp) is a Excel based character generator, you'll need some practice and advice before it all makes sense.

send me a Private message and i'll e-mail you the character sheets my nephews used in PDF and heroforge format

Good Luck and Have Fun.

UserClone
2008-12-10, 03:43 PM
I would not start young children on D&D, and if I did, you could bet the farm it would be 4th edition. I'd start them with something simpler, more rules lite such as Faery's Tale (http://firefly-games.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=48) or Monster Island (http://firefly-games.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=43) (on which the publisher has a 2-for-1 deal, it seems), or even start out with a free simple game such as Risus (http://cumberland.swampside.org/risus-1p53.zip). Finally, for a game in which the level of complexity is entirely up to you and, as a bonus, includes backstory elements in the mechanics of character generation directly, try Fate (http://www.faterpg.com/dl/FATE2fe.pdf). But if you are going with D&D, I'd strongly suggest 4th edition.

AslanCross
2008-12-10, 04:33 PM
I've heard a lot of stories about the first generation of D&D players starting really young. They may not have understood the the rules initially, but they got into it eventually. I'm not sure I'd have been able to learn the 3.5 ruleset at that age, but I don't want to start another edition argument here. (Just to be clear, I prefer 3.5 but I'm not sure how accessible it would be to you and your children.) In any case, as long as the children are actually interested in learning it, I'm sure they'd be able to enjoy it.

Premier
2008-12-10, 04:44 PM
Hello, there.

First of all, good luck with your quest to roleplay with your kids. A friend of mine has recently introduced his 8 (now 9) year old daughter to the game, and she loves it!

Let me recommend you the Dragonsfoot forums, (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/) where a bit of searching should get you several threads about people's experience with just this. You can also download at least one adventure written for AD&D that was specifically written to introduce a child to the game.

As to what system to use, I'd advise you to stay away from any rules-heavy games, the 3rd and 4th editions of D&D included. The latter just put too much emphasis on using the rules properly and creating the mathematically optimal characters, while they stifle true creativity. Someone earlier mentioned Risus, that might be a choice, or the old D6 Star Wars game by West End Games, if you can get your hand on it (Ebay, probably) and if your kids dig Wars.

As for Dungeons and Dragons, my friend uses the 1st edition of AD&D without any of the bells and whistles, and it works out just fine. Others use the so-called Basic (or Classic) D&D, or even the Original editions (the Dragonsfoot forums are a good place to get a primer on which edition is which). All of these should be suitable, since they don't have many rules, nor other things that players would need to memorize to be effective. In fact, the so-called Mentzer series of Classic D&D was explicitly written for people new to the roleplaying hobby.

Note that some of the above recommendations have free 'clones' that you can download off the Internet.

xPANCAKEx
2008-12-10, 05:51 PM
pre-made characters (preferably similar to their favourite OoTS characters class to really hook their interest)

pre-made plot, preferably nothing too complex, leading to a mini-dungeon crawl.... cover all the "basics" on something like a "get the magic rock" quest

it may be worth GMPCing a heal bot and fudging a few things for it - don't take the action away from them, but get ready to dive in and heal them back up when they need it

lisiecki
2008-12-10, 06:35 PM
I recommend 3.5, being better in every way than 4ed :smallbiggrin:

[/flamebait]

I recommended Ad&d, being better in every way than 3.5

NPCMook
2008-12-10, 10:46 PM
I see no one has recommended the Starter set, its 16-17 dollars and you get a lot of stuff, it comes with a paperback DMG, and a 16-Page Quick start PHB rules

the DMG itself comes with a quick little adventure, you also get 3 sheets of Dungeon tiles to plot out the dungeon for visual effect along with 6 dice. Like I said its 16-17 dollars for the 4th edition one, if you can find a 3.5 edition one, it will probably be cheaper

elliott20
2008-12-10, 11:06 PM
I'm going to go against the flow and suggest you actually NOT make D&D your first RPG experience. (especially if you yourself is still new at it) D&D rules take a while to master and until you're used to the conventions of tabletop roleplaying, it's just going to needlessly confuse you.

my recommendation? if you're insistent on sticking with D&D, starting with the Redbox Hack (http://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?mainid=9867). It's old D&D, it's streamlined, and it's free.

If you don't mind trying other genres, I recommend Wushu as it's very rules light. Prime Time Adventures is another one. There are also a billion other indie RPGs that are very light on the rules that makes it fairly easy for you to pick up.

Grynning
2008-12-10, 11:12 PM
I think that they want to stick with D&D as OOTS was their primary motivation for getting into RPG's. D&D really isn't *that* hard, regardless of edition, hell, my friends and I figured it out when we were 5th graders, and even now, with all the other available systems, I think D&D is still one of the best (3.5 or 4th, either one).

I will second the recommendation of the 4th edition D&D starter pack that's out now. I almost bought one myself, it's a pretty good deal at less than 20 bucks. I just wanted the extra tiles and dice, not sure how the actual adventure is, but it seems like it would be enough to get going with.

elliott20
2008-12-10, 11:18 PM
well, I suppose it's not that bad.

It's just that, I personally found the d20 system to be a distraction until I managed to learn all the rules enough so that I can run things quickly. Often times, one of the biggest time waster in D&D for me was looking up a rule clarification.

aboyd
2008-12-10, 11:23 PM
Hmm. Well, D&D 3.5 edition has some things going for it, even it is complex. For example, it's free, legally. The d20 SRD URL has already been mentioned, and that provides most of the book content for $0. Also free are PCGen, a program that will walk you through building characters, and HeroForge, an Excel spreadsheet that will walk you through... building characters.

PCGen is generally more difficult to understand at first, and it only does character classes from the core D&D 3.5 edition books. However, it is GREAT at handling inventory, and knowing how to correctly apply modifiers from items. Almost any magical item or property can be created by right-clicking on a normal item and customizing it. HeroForge is better for extended materials, such as the "Complete _______" books (like Complete Adventurer). It has all the stats and feats for those extra books, making character creation a breeze. The problem is that it sucks at items/inventory. But for a level 1 starter character, that hardly matters.

If free is a big plus but the complexity is a problem, you could search for Microlite 20 and/or Basic Fantasy. Those are free D&D spinoffs that are VERY simple. Microlite 20 boils down the 3.5 rules into something easier to manage, while still maintaining compatibility with most modules and such. Basic Fantasy is similar to the original D&D, but it has the d20 mechanic (older versions of D&D has some weird things, such as armor values that were better if they went smaller (into negative numbers) -- Basic Fantasy eschews that in favor of the more modern "bigger numbers are always better" math).

My daughter is 10 and my son is 6. They started playing D&D 3.5 with me and a few friends about 2 years ago. My son was too young then and still is. He just wants to kill everything, even the cleric healing him. He can't sit still or share the spotlight. He fine with the math, though. My daughter was fine with D&D at age 8, and she's even better with it now.

There are some suggestions I will make as to how to play with beginners & young kids. First and foremost you have to meet them where they are. Kids make suboptimal decisions, and the natural inclination is to go darwin on them and let natural selection sort 'em out. Don't do that. If your kids (or 1st-time adults) have built very stupid characters with the least impressive choices, don't throw a typical adventure at them and just let them die because they suck. Instead, if their characters are more like level 0 commoners in terms of power, scale down the adventure so that someone at that power level has a hope of succeeding.

Second, meet them where they are. I know that was the first rule, but it's also the second from another perspective. That is, kids want radically different things from what adults want. The game isn't about you, so find a story that works for the players. My daughter initially picked a druid for her character, and all her spells were about speaking with animals and the like. NO combat spells. I realized the game was absolutely not going to be about killing 100 orcs as in Lord of the Rings. Instead I bought The Noble Wild (a PDF for 3.5 games, up on drivethrustuff.com). It's a book that adds rules for talking animals, like in the Narnia books & movies. And so we spent games where she talked with her horse and went over minutiae about how the horse felt, whether her horse and dog could communicate to each other, what kind of food they liked, and so on. Very boring for me, if I didn't have the extra Noble Wild rules to maintain my interest. However, it made a D&D gamer-for-life out of my kid.

The third rule is simply that you don't need to expose all the rules to the kids. If you pick a complicated system like 3.5 edition, the kids don't need to grok all of it. Tell them how to do to-hit rolls, damage rolls, skill checks, and saving throws. That's it. Roll everything else for them, do all the rest of the math for them. Even do character setup for them if they want your help.

Grynning
2008-12-10, 11:27 PM
well, I suppose it's not that bad.

It's just that, I personally found the d20 system to be a distraction until I managed to learn all the rules enough so that I can run things quickly. Often times, one of the biggest time waster in D&D for me was looking up a rule clarification.

Well, the thing is that you only have to clarify the rules if you want to. As others have suggested above, with kids it's more important to make sure they have fun and can do the things they want than to strictly adhere to the rules.

That said, you do need a basic set of rules, otherwise you're just playing pretend and not an RPG. The 3.x/d20 system may be hard to master, but the basic principle is simple - roll a d20 +/- modifiers to do stuff. DM's golden rule (+2 if conditions are favorable, -2 if they are unfavorable) and a couple reads of the combat section are all you really need. I DO recommend against trying to deal with the vagaries of high-level spellcasters in 3.5 to new players, but again with kids that's not as much of a problem, they tend towards using the spells the way they're intended to be used rather than trying to abuse them.

4th edition avoids the spellcasting problem and has fewer rules overall, plus it has an inexpensive condensed version that will let all of them get started quickly. That's why I recommend it over any others.

elliott20
2008-12-10, 11:43 PM
that is true. the benefit of a tabletop game is that you don't HAVE to follow the rules if it makes for a better game for everyone.

chaoschristian
2008-12-11, 12:10 AM
Heh, you guys are fantastic. I now have a much better idea of where to start, what I need and how to streamline it for the kids.

I'm not fixed on starting with D&D by the way. While OoTS was the inspiration for this endeavor, there's nothing about that connection that makes us want to commit to D&D. For us it's all the same, so starting with a simple system that I can learn and teach to the kids is best. If the interest holds then maybe a move up/over to D&D xE (I'll leave that argument alone for now) will be in order.

*****: I know and understand exactly what you are talking about regarding your daughter and son. My son is the older of the two, but I know he'll want to hack-n-slash his way through the story, while my daughter, who spends hours after school drawing and cutting out paper dolls so she can create stories with them, will want something that is more story driven. I think I can balance that out and make an interesting adventure that has elements of both fantasy role-play and some combat (having ideas of the big brother having to protect his little sister during fights) that will satisfy both and present some interesting challenges and problem solving as well.

Keep the ideas coming folks. And thanks again.

NPCMook
2008-12-11, 12:33 AM
You can also look at it as a teaching device, rolling the dice and adding up the numbers to teach them long addition/subtraction and gradually move them in the simple multiplication. Word problems; DC30, you have a +11, what is the lowest you can roll to pass? Monster A has a Reflex Defense of 14, you have a +9 to hit, what is the least you can roll and hit? You crit, you deal max damage which is 4d8+4, so what is the total? You get where I'm going with this.

Also can help them with speaking aloud in public(although it is in the home,) help with reading, throughout the story it can teach them morals you'd like them to take to heart

mikeejimbo
2008-12-11, 12:34 AM
It looks like y'all won't have any problem. A few pieces of advice on running games with kids, no matter what edition you play.

1) Let the rules slide a little. Don't allow out and out cheating, but introduce them with simple parts of the rules, focusing on the story, then add complexity as they go along. For example, don't start enforcing opportunity attacks/attacks of opportunity until the kids start asking "If he runs away, can I hit him before he goes?" It's a fiddly bit to the system that doesn't need to be there to have fun... it just makes the tactical wargamers amongst us happy.

2) Be flexible. Kids come up with a variety of creative solutions to problems. Let them work unless they're absolutely stupid (i.e. They opt to heal the kobold instead of killing him, making a friend).

I like these suggestions, though I can't tell - is healing the Kobold an example of something that's stupid or creative? Sounds like a good idea to me, at least if the characters are good.

There was an excellent blog about a guy playing an RPG with his kid. Unfortunately, I forget the RPG, the name of the blog, the name of the guy, and everything about it. Anyone know of anything like this? It was excellent, and provided a lot of tips for anyone who wanted to do the same.

NPCMook
2008-12-11, 12:39 AM
I like these suggestions, though I can't tell - is healing the Kobold an example of something that's stupid or creative? Sounds like a good idea to me, at least if the characters are good.

There was an excellent blog about a guy playing an RPG with his kid. Unfortunately, I forget the RPG, the name of the blog, the name of the guy, and everything about it. Anyone know of anything like this? It was excellent, and provided a lot of tips for anyone who wanted to do the same.

Well what are you waiting for, go find it!.. again:smallbiggrin:

Willfor
2008-12-11, 12:44 AM
You can also look at it as a teaching device, rolling the dice and adding up the numbers to teach them long addition/subtraction and gradually move them in the simple multiplication. Word problems; DC30, you have a +11, what is the lowest you can roll to pass? Monster A has a Reflex Defense of 14, you have a +9 to hit, what is the least you can roll and hit? You crit, you deal max damage which is 4d8+4, so what is the total? You get where I'm going with this.

Also can help them with speaking aloud in public(although it is in the home,) help with reading, throughout the story it can teach them morals you'd like them to take to heart

Bear in mind not to say whatsoever that you intend it to be a learning experience. I may not be a kid anymore, but I still remember how those words manage to suck the fun out of any enjoyable activity... Perception is everything, and they will learn regardless of whether you say they are learning or not. Might as well just say it's all for fun.

As an example, I can say that I myself never truly understood the application of imaginary numbers until I needed them in a hobby. The difference being that I never cared about them in school because it was a 'learning experience,' and when I needed them for the hobby it was 'just for fun.'

Maybe that's just me though.

mikeejimbo
2008-12-11, 12:45 AM
Well what are you waiting for, go find it!.. again:smallbiggrin:

I don't remember anything about it except for some of the stuff that happened. The kid was going to play a 12 year old (though the kid was 5, I think) and got to choose his special powers. One of them was going to be "Magic Bracers" but then the kid decided that he wanted his character to find them on his adventure, and the dad gave him a roleplaying bonus for putting off instant gratification (I mean, he's five) He upgraded the braces from 18 to W, or something like that. I don't remember which game uses mechanics like that, but if you do, it might be helpful.