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.
Basic Overview of Gameplay
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.