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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I'm planning on introducing my family to D&D in a few weeks, and I've got everything set up as I would for a group my age, but I have some much younger siblings (ages 8 and 10) that will be playing too. The other players will be 15, 18, and maybe some in their late 40s, if that information is useful at all.

    My question is have any of you played with, or especially DM'd for, any very young players? What sort of problems did you run into and what things did you do to make sure the game stayed fun for everybody?
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    Mr.Moron's Avatar

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    The 10 year old is probably pretty fine on his own if needing some guidance. You might wanna pair the 8 year old up with one of the older adults and let them co-play a character with the adult providing options, the kid making decisions/rolling dice and the adult doing the math.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Gamed with a 7-year-old. Great fun.

    Like with any beginner, patience is required - of all the players.

    Best to introduce them to the basic rules beforehand, give them a couple basic scenarios to have experience with their abilities - and with the language of the game.

    More as I think of it. I'll actually be seeing the now-17yo player in question tonight, so I'll ask her and see what she has to say.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I suppose I should specify that I have primarily DM'd for two players who started at 7 years old. I was rarely a player with either of them.

    To generalize my previous post, help them to familiarize themselves with the system, their characters, etc as much as possible.

    My initial suggestion to accomplish that was to play them through a few sample scenarios.

    There are other ways to accomplish the same thing.

    The now-17 7-year-old-in-question's dad suggests encouraging them to read the books / as much of the relevant sections as possible. The personality types of the player(s) in question will determine the level of success of this technique.

    Although everyone can enjoy it, children are probably more likely to appreciate minis, mood music, and other visceral portions of the experience. Although everyone can benefit, they may benefit more from a recap - and may enjoy getting to contribute to the recap.

    Not entirely the same thing, but we made pictures of her character, found and painted a mini, etc. Even on not-game days, she would encourage us to play (no rules, no dice, no connection to the adventure) make-believe games with her character. We bought the 7yo her own dice and her own boxed set for one of her birthdays, IIRC. So she cared about her character during the game. IMO, a player who cares but is still a little confused about the rules is better than a player who knows the rules but doesn't care.

    Neither she, nor her now-15 brother (the other "started at 7" player I DM'd) have any suggestions based on their experiences. But that's what I remember of helping teach them to play 8-10 years ago.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    My experience with younger players is that they're more likely to identify with a particular aspect of the game over others (typically, combat). It happens with older and more experienced players as well, but maturity usually brings patience and a wider set of interests.

    Once you determine which part of the game your players are most interested in, always make sure to include it on a regular basis so that the player doesn't get bored. Make sure that the other players are mature enough to understand your need to give more of the spotlight to the 8-year-old.
    "Nothing you can't spell will ever work." - Will Rogers

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    Remember, Evil isn't "selfish". It's Evil. "Look out for number one" is a Neutral attitude. Evil looks out for number one while crushing number two.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Learning the rules is good, but try to put the focus on character - "what you want to do" not "what dice to roll." Each time, show them how it works (this is how attacks work, this is how magic works, oh please, don't tell me you want to grapple, etc.).

    The ones more into pretend will pick up the rules more readily. The ones into rules will get past the fancy board game mindset.

    And expect a lot of violence. Kids are scary.
    Why yes, Warlock is my solution for everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    Active Abilities are great because you - the player - are demonstrating your Dwarvenness or Elfishness. You're not passively a dwarf, you're actively dwarfing your way through obstacles.

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    Beleriphon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe the Rat View Post
    And expect a lot of violence. Kids are scary.
    I can second that, one of the first responses kids have when they realize violence is an acceptable answer in D&D is to use it with relish.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    With an 8 year old, use the very, VERY simple system. If it's D&D, use the Swords & Wizardry retroclone of OD&D, or something of a similar caliber. Definitely do not use 3rd or 4th edition.
    "I had thought - I had been told - that a 'funny' thing is a thing of goodness. It isn't. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to. Like that sheriff without his pants. The goodness is in the laughing. I grok it is a bravery... and a sharing... against pain and sorrow and defeat."

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    Tiri's Avatar

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I don't know about that. One 7-year old I know grasps 3.5 pretty well. Of course, he's playing a fighter, but everyone has to start somewhere.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Use 3.x. I cannot stress that enough. "add your bonus to a d20, try to get equal to our higher than the DC" is so much easier than the "do I want high or low" randomness of earlier editions. I'd take a new 7 year old in 3.x over a new 27yo in older editions.

    I had some very imaginative 7yo's in the game , so having them decide what they wanted to do was never an issue. ;) but, yeah, give them scenarios with choices, open-ended scenarios, etc - if for no other reason than to make sure YOU are familiar with the kinds of things they might try.

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I remember when I first played DnD as a young child. I was a little older, but from my point of view, this is what I can tell from my experience. When playing with younger kids make sure they have everything ORGANIZED and EXPLAINED. My DM made a good job of keeping everything short and simple in explanation so she wouldn't overwhelm me with the many rules of DnD. As starting a campaign with new characters, just keep objectives simple. No over complicated missions and puzzles or any of the stuff. This helped me gain at least a good understandable feeling of the game. However, at least expose the kid to some aspects of the game. When creating a character try to go over the rulebook, and explain parts he doesn't understand. Also, going to the second part, you REALLY need to be patient when playing with young kids. They will be rash and will even show great frustration. My friend and I are the same age, and the first session ended up with us confused and frustrated. Make sure you pay great attention to him/her and answer any question he or she might have. I hope this helps!

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    Beholder

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Use 3.x. I cannot stress that enough. "add your bonus to a d20, try to get equal to our higher than the DC" is so much easier than the "do I want high or low" randomness of earlier editions. I'd take a new 7 year old in 3.x over a new 27yo in older editions.(snip)
    I could not agree more. I've taught a few 7/8yo kids using 3.5E and one of them is now 18yo and in our 4E group(and running his own 5E game). Gygaxian editions of D&D may seem simpler but the poor design, poor organisation, and lack of design logic make them harder to grasp than the ostensibly more complicated later editions.

    Frankly, I would also use 3.5E to teach someone to play instead of 5E even though the latter is, in some ways, much simpler.
    Last edited by ScrivenerofDoom; 2015-11-12 at 12:52 PM.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Thanks for the tips everybody! I get the sense that the basic idea is to treat them just like any other new player, 'but more so'.
    My main concern was if, or in what way, the imagination of a little kid would be harder to DM for than the more predictable idas of older players, but I hadn't considered they might enjoy the 'violence is the best solution' approach even more than others do.
    I'll be using 5e because that's the edition I'm most familiar with and actually have the books for. I like 3.5 too but I would have to be constantly referencing the rules to make sure I remembered things correctly.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bek-Labs View Post
    Thanks for the tips everybody! I get the sense that the basic idea is to treat them just like any other new player, 'but more so'.
    My main concern was if, or in what way, the imagination of a little kid would be harder to DM for than the more predictable idas of older players, but I hadn't considered they might enjoy the 'violence is the best solution' approach even more than others do.
    I'll be using 5e because that's the edition I'm most familiar with and actually have the books for. I like 3.5 too but I would have to be constantly referencing the rules to make sure I remembered things correctly.
    Yeah 5e is also simplified A LOT. It would not only make it easier for you, but for every new player.

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I've GMed more than a few games for people in the 8 range (including a few a hair under it), though never with D&D. I'd recommend avoiding more obtuse rules, allowing for a bit more in the way of wackiness than normal, and running a game that's more in the PG range than the R range, but other than that (and how most 8 year olds won't have the attention span for a 4 hour session or the like yet) it's pretty much the same.

    As system recommendations appear to be a thing in this thread, I'd recommend avoiding D&D entirely, in favor of something a bit less shackled to the RPG design of the early 1980's.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I have played with younger players and found it to be fun and frustrating at the same time. Sometimes they do something innovative and whacky that is great but at other times you will have the learning curve of things more experienced gamers will know not to do (never split the party, insult a stranger). It does, however, give some great quotable lines "I clean the bloodied sword with some spit and polish it".

    Just don't be as harsh when they do something that is not groovy and explain other ways to have dealt with the problem after the fact. Tell them when they are doing good things and you may need to build the character based on a concept for them because the math theory may be a bit too much to grasp at that age.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by copel99; 2015-11-13 at 07:36 AM.

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by copel99 View Post
    Just don't be as harsh when they do something that is not groovy and explain other ways to have dealt with the problem after the fact. Tell them when they are doing good things and you may need to build the character based on a concept for them because the math theory may be a bit too much to grasp at that age.
    On that note be prepared for kids to ask to be characters like Ponies, Squirrels, living tree stumps, Princesses or Robots (I've heard boys and girls ask for both at a game shop), among other things that D&D doesn't really support. Don't say no, but ask why they want those things, kids tend not to be good at articulating why they want something so be prepared to ask a lot of probing questions to get a straight answer. Once you get a solid answer you can work with kids are actually pretty good about going with the flow.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Noble Background and UA Warforged. We got your Princesses and Robots covered.
    Why yes, Warlock is my solution for everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    Active Abilities are great because you - the player - are demonstrating your Dwarvenness or Elfishness. You're not passively a dwarf, you're actively dwarfing your way through obstacles.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I remember when I was a kid.
    I wanted to play a wizard.
    The GM said that there was already too much casters.
    I did choose monk.
    That was wrong.
    Never ever let a beginner play monk or fighter rather tell them to play T1 caster,barbarian or rogue.(except if you do the build yourself or that you choose to give ten times more WBL to that character to compensate how bad are those classes)
    Monk is incredibly hard to build(like the fighter) while with a caster no matter how bad and horrible were your building choices this gives no problem and with a rogue you will have a skill magical pocket of usefulness and with barbarian you will be able to deal correct damage and survive without crazy optimization.
    Last edited by noob; 2015-11-13 at 11:04 AM.

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    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Avoid roleplay heavy groups dealing with matters of morality, spirituality, sexuality, or anything of that nature and you'd be good. Stick to a DM that runs hack and slash with light roleplay.

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    ... play something more free than DnD?

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Don't emphasize the rules. Instead, describe the scene and ask the child what she/he wants to do. Make any necessary die rolls, and tell what happens. Sometimes, you may have to say 'you can't', but that's all right.

    Later, you can start explaining the rules, but start with this.
    Have you had enough of unreasonably high LA's and unplayable monsters in 3.5? Then check out the LA-assignment thread! Don't hesitate to give feedback!

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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    My dad taught me to play DnD when I was about six years old. And it was probably when of the best decisions he made as a father in terms of my intellectual growth. I was reading and doing math at a higher level than anyone else in my class at the time. The key is patience and guidance. Answer any questions they have, for there will be many. Generally younger players will focus on combat, so let them make their own decisions about tactics and such in the aspect that they enjoy most, so that they feel like they are an equal at the table. Let them know the basic rules and dive in, the more complex rules will come up as they may and you can explain them at that juncture if you feel like it is necessary.
    "A man once said do not meddle in the affairs of wizards for they are subtle and quick to anger. Tolkien had half of that right. **** subtlety." ~ Harry Dresden

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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Premier View Post
    Definitely do not use 3rd or 4th edition.
    I disagree with not using 4th edition. It may be weird, but I played that when I was four. I also know that this is from 3 years ago.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    One thing I would do is limit monsters who have specific vulnerabilities and immunities.

    The “can only be hit by magical weapons”, “Immune to fire” kind of things. Kids will feel they’re being cheated if their wonder weapon or greatest spell ever gets nerfed. I’m not saying don’t have them, just make them less common and clearly signposted.

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    One thing! We adults understand the random nature of dice rolls. This is probably one of the things a small mind needs to wrap their head around. Rolling low is not a "failure", it is unlucky. The kid has not failed to help because of bad rolls. They were just unlucky. This is a simple concept but I have learned at college that different age groups tend to grasp mathematical concepts like chance or multiplication differently.

    Adults can deal with the "your character failed because you as a player rolled poorly". But I am not so sure on kids.

    Although everyone can enjoy it, children are probably more likely to appreciate minis, mood music, and other visceral portions of the experience. Although everyone can benefit, they may benefit more from a recap - and may enjoy getting to contribute to the recap.
    I don't think that part is age specific. If anything I assume my 7 year old self was MORE creative and imaginative. But you have to be open for a few things out of the ordinary, which would break immersion and continuity. Stuff like anachronisms, exotic food and drink (there is no reason for a D&D commoner to have access to bananas or coffee), modern ideas for music and classes (heavy metal angel -> aasimar bard) and more.

    You might want to take their idea and work on it for a bit to fit the mood of your game. If it would be a princess robot barbarian like I've seen above, but you play Curse of Strahd, you can translate it to gothic horror by making it appear like a porcellain doll with a tattered dress, which just so happens to go into a murder frenzy every once in a while.

    ...

    You know what, I might steal this idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    One thing I would do is limit monsters who have specific vulnerabilities and immunities.

    The “can only be hit by magical weapons”, “Immune to fire” kind of things. Kids will feel they’re being cheated if their wonder weapon or greatest spell ever gets nerfed. I’m not saying don’t have them, just make them less common and clearly signposted.
    I feel this should apply to every group, not just youngsters. Of course with more genre savvy players you don't need to telegraph that red dragons are immune to fire from 10 hours of gameplay away. But the old "monster can only be slain with specific weapon x" is regularly a main quest in a lot of older games and stories. Legend of Zelda is very prominent here. While you might be able to stop the demon lord's forces with any old sword, you can only slay the lord with the Master Sword (which in this case would be a possibly silvered holy (maybe demon-bane) longsword).

    Yes if you stat everything out, you might also be able to defeat the demon king by other means. But he has a distinct weakness to said weapon. It is a variety of "square shape into square hole" but it still allows for variety. I would possibly work with a lot more weakness mechanics than with immunities. Immunities are boring and just necessary to explain the plot (why would a non fire immune dragon live in a volcano, plus going into the volcano to slay the dragon would require the group to get fire immune as well which helps against the breath weapon A LOT). But weaknesses are where heroes can shine!

    The heroes can fight the swarm of shadows with much effort. Or the light cleric can just deal AoE radiant damage and win "his" encounter. The crystal golem can be fought with much effort. Or the wizard with a shatter spell or the barbarian with an adamantine earthbreaker can shine. You get what I mean?
    Last edited by Spore; 2018-11-27 at 03:01 AM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    I'm pretty sure kids plays snakes & ladders, I'm sure they understand setback and randomness to a degree.

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    Default Re: Playing D&D with an 8-year-old; advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by JadenFarandola View Post
    I disagree with not using 4th edition. It may be weird, but I played that when I was four. I also know that this is from 3 years ago.
    Sheriff: Please don't revive old threads. Check out the Forum Rules on Thread Necromancy.

    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2018-11-27 at 04:20 PM.
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