Child’s Play: Dungeons and Dragons

My son turned 8 this November (how time flies!) and his birthday request was to play a real game of Dungeons and Dragons. Berry had sent him the Young Adventurer’s Guide over the summer and my son has read them all cover-to-cover at least four times. My good friend Dan has never been so delighted to grant a birthday wish before and he gotto work straight away on putting a one-shot together for us and being our DM (Dungeon Master). 

Much to my partner’s chagrin, I insisted this be a family game and I found that having a fun and family-friendly one-shot is both doable and enjoyable! As a DND-noob myself, I will share with you my takeaways from this interesting experience. 

My son very excited to start his first DND game

Basic Overview of Gameplay

Dan was able to find a fun one-shot by Wizards of the Coast called Grammy’s Country Apple Pie online. In this 2-hour game, you are given a quest by a wizard to enter an old bakery and bring back a recipe for his favorite apple pie. Along the way are just enough monsters, mayhem and hiccups to make the gameplay interesting for all ages.
 
My son has been reading up on all things D&D related, so he knew before we started that he wanted to be a Tabaxi Paladin. Dan created a character sheet for him ahead of time with the proper stats completed. For the rest of the family he had printed out pre-made character sheets for us to choose from (we are all new to TTRGs so this was extremely helpful).  For any such games with child or novice players, I highly recommend having pre-made character sheets as an option. It honestly took so much pressure off of me and made this such an enjoyable experience.

Good for the 5-year old?

Not really. First off, my five-year old is not nearly as interested in this level of fantasy story-telling as my older son. Second off, a two-hour gaming session was a bit much for him.

My five-year old was able to play and have fun, but with supervision and an adult subbing in for him when he wandered off to play with a random toy for a while. He had a great time playing, but would have been frustrated if he had been expected to stay at the table the whole time and participate full-on. 

Good for the 8-year old?

Yes, my 8-year old had a great time and this was a wonderful story for his first time. He enjoyed the story-telling, asked lots of questions and came away victorious from the game.

It is worth mentioning, however, that even though he has studied these elements of D&D, he had some difficulty grasping the game from the start. My friend Dan is a wonderful Dungeon Master and provided my logic-minded son a thorough overview of how the game works before we started. The concept of making the story up as you so along for your own character was also difficult for me to grasp the first few times I participated in TTRPGs, so I highly recommend an overview for novice players of all ages!

Once we started the quest my son really started to get engaged. He used force and fighting at ever encounter he could and was delighted when he was able to use a healing spell to heal his own character. It was entertaining to watch and his banter with Dan both as he acted out the NPCs (Non-Player Characters) and as our DM rolling dice to dole out damage was pure magic. 

If you have considered getting your youngin’ into D&D, or if there is a younster in your life who has expressed interest, then I highly recommend this delightful one-shot. Probably best for the player who is interested in it and, seriously, the pre-fabbed character sheets were clutch for a quick start to the game. Whenever you have a child (or an-aged novice) I recommend providing an overview of basic gameplay, expectations and answering any questions. I think that TTRPGs are a wonderful tool for imagination, fun and camaraderie. This one-shot, with my family and friends, served only to further that belief. 

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