I am the worst Dungeon Master EVER!!!! How do you DM for Kids?

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I'm trying, Hours of prep work, Excel sheets for the monsters...You name it.

What are some quick tips for keeping things going forward and smoothly? When all hell breaks loose, what are some of your go to tacticts to get things back on track?


I tried the minatures but I dunno, maybe it is just because I am old school but the minatures seem to be more of a distraction and immersion breaker than they are helping.


Lastly but most importanty, THE DM SCREEN.

I love having one, but frankly this latest one is lame. What are some things I can print out or that you use that are always referenced, common, and are great Go To's for some fun?

This one I purchased made me so mad, half of the screen is not info, It is just tells me what page to go to in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

So what I am looking for is some really fun, needed all the time DC's I can tape on to my DM Screen and anything else you find really helps your DM Screen.




I'm not giving up yet, but so Far Session one was fun and ok. Session two was a nightmare...Session three...well let's just say Session three may have totally killed D&D at my household it went so bad.

Also, any tips for DM'n younger players/little kids? I am currently DM'n a party with a 10 Year old (Who is doing fine) a 8 Year old (Who has the attention span of a chicken) and a four year old (Oh my god..) and my wif (Who is doing fine).



In my opinion D&D 4e is a very tactical game when it comes to combat, this is why I believe that on the two essentials books that I own (Monster Vault and MV TttNV) the suggested age for players is 12+.  This of course is probably a conservitive estimate on the age of a player who would be able to play this game.  You might need to wait a few years to introduce your 8 and 4 year old to D&D.  At that age much more simplistic games, such as Sorry would probably be their limits.

I have played in games of D&D 3.5 where the DM tried to run combat without minis or a battlemat.  Of course he was also running combat without attacks of opportunity or flanking.  Eventually we asked about these omissions and when we tried to run combat with these things and area of effect attacks in play gridless combat became confusing and we began using minis and a mapgrid.  I'm not saying gridless combat is impossible, but in my experience it doesn't work unless steps are made to simplify combat, which may effect the usefullness of certain roles, such as defenders.

Finally good luck in you D&D game.  

Don’t panic.


 


 


When DMing for children don’t get so hung up on the rules. Also lots of prep time is more of hindrance than a benefit. Just set up very simple situations like a town is under attack, the mayor’s child has been kidnapped, or there is a bad is guy in the ruined castle that needs to be stopped. Also don’t expect kids to be able to tolerate a 2-4 hour game session. If you can get them having fun for 30 minutes, you did good.


 


Don’t let combat get over complicated. Don't be afraid to have monsters die after 1 or 2 hits (regardless of how many hp they have left), or surrender or run away when your children’s attention is waning. If they want to try something wacky just go with it, or let them roll a d20 with a high chance of success.


 


Remember in playing D&D with your kids the point is to teach them how to play D&D (role-playing, using their imagination, working together as a team etc.) not teach D&D rules.

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Your tinest one probably should not be playing with older kids. They have much different concepts that they can wrap their heads around.

I play a game with my wife and with my 7 year old. My wife knows that we will be focusing on what's fun for a 7 year old.  She has a fairy dragon that breaths rainbow healing word, and a wooden girl (like pinochio) who helps her out with traps and locks.

She likes the figures and game tiles(and it's given me an excuse to buy up the plastic minis left at the bookstores).

I've toned down the rules a lot, because we don't need to be strict in that sense. We've been 'Essentials only', and that has made some character options easier.  I have no flanking or opportunity actions so we pick powers (and monsters) that don't use special abilites when we can.

My kid would rather not roll dice if she can help it, and loves the story telling part. The hard part is keeping her from adding story parts that I don't want her to. We continue the story through her bath time and as I'm tucking her into bed.

I don't have a lot of grey area in my adventures. The good guys are good guys and the Bad guys are mostly monsters. When the bad guys are humans, I let her capture them and throw them in jail.

Almost everything she fights is a minion, and a normal monster is usually considered a tough guy for the story. That's easy when I just have two players.


Don’t panic.


When DMing for children don’t get so hung up on the rules. Also lots of prep time is more of hindrance than a benefit. Just set up very simple situations like a town is under attack, the mayor’s child has been kidnapped, or there is a bad is guy in the ruined castle that needs to be stopped.




My wife was saying something similar, Although she is a total D&D noob and just doing it for the "Family Time".

I think I will try this approach for the next session.  It is funny you mentioned the 30 minutes because we always seem to get a good 30 minutes and then all hell breaks loose.

What do you think about the mini's and boards for this age group? Is it a pro or a con? I'm thinking if I simplify and speed the combat up I can throw alot more bad guys on the board and it will help.

Do you use them with players at such a young age?

I'm so new to the DM thing I have been really trying to stick to this "Cairn of the Winter King" module, I may just toss that and start "Your in a town and bad guys are attacking".

What if any are some good common DC's you throw at the kids or use?


Almost everything she fights is a minion, and a normal monster is usually considered a tough guy for the story. That's easy when I just have two players.




That is a really good idea I will start switching the monsters to minions right away.

Don’t panic.


When DMing for children don’t get so hung up on the rules. Also lots of prep time is more of hindrance than a benefit. Just set up very simple situations like a town is under attack, the mayor’s child has been kidnapped, or there is a bad is guy in the ruined castle that needs to be stopped.




My wife was saying something similar, Although she is a total D&D noob and just doing it for the "Family Time".

I think I will try this approach for the next session.  It is funny you mentioned the 30 minutes because we always seem to get a good 30 minutes and then all hell breaks loose.

What do you think about the mini's and boards for this age group? Is it a pro or a con? I'm thinking if I simplify and speed the combat up I can throw alot more bad guys on the board and it will help.

Do you use them with players at such a young age?

I'm so new to the DM thing I have been really trying to stick to this "Cairn of the Winter King" module, I may just toss that and start "Your in a town and bad guys are attacking".

What if any are some good common DC's you throw at the kids or use?




erdana; color:black; font-size:9pt">My kids prefer the mini's and a mat. My daughter likes to hold her miniature and have it pretend to talk, like the when she is playing with dolls or action figures. She also prefers the mat because she likes to grab the marker and add stuff to the battlefield in the middle of encounters.

In terms of DC's I start with the revised down DC in the rules compendium. However regardless of  what they roll I never have them fail outright on a skill check. A low roll will just mean they are less effective in use of the skill, but they still gain some benefit. As long as they come up with interesting ideas of how to deal with problems, I am happy.


In terms of story I tend to talk to the kid ahead of time and have them suggest some ideas. My daughter came up a story arc were the the evil pirate Captain Keepit has captured all of good Queen Olena's spies and locked them up in different places. Each session the party went to a dungeon to save a spy, until they had a final battle with Captain Keepit.

Currently we have a story line were they have to stop the schemes of an evil gang called the Lugubrious Blackguards  led by Count Von Annoy-anator Something-name, Baron Ultra-death-killer, and Blaagggggh. You get the idea.   




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Don’t panic.


When DMing for children don’t get so hung up on the rules. Also lots of prep time is more of hindrance than a benefit. Just set up very simple situations like a town is under attack, the mayor’s child has been kidnapped, or there is a bad is guy in the ruined castle that needs to be stopped.




My wife was saying something similar, Although she is a total D&D noob and just doing it for the "Family Time".

I think I will try this approach for the next session.  It is funny you mentioned the 30 minutes because we always seem to get a good 30 minutes and then all hell breaks loose.

What do you think about the mini's and boards for this age group? Is it a pro or a con? I'm thinking if I simplify and speed the combat up I can throw alot more bad guys on the board and it will help.

Do you use them with players at such a young age?

I'm so new to the DM thing I have been really trying to stick to this "Cairn of the Winter King" module, I may just toss that and start "Your in a town and bad guys are attacking".

What if any are some good common DC's you throw at the kids or use?




erdana; color:black; font-size:9pt">My kids prefer the mini's and a mat. My daughter likes to hold her miniature and have it pretend to talk, like the when she is playing with dolls or action figures. She also prefers the mat because she likes to grab the marker and add stuff to the battlefield in the middle of encounters.

In terms of DC's I start with the revised down DC in the rules compendium. However regardless of  what they roll I never have them fail outright on a skill check. A low roll will just mean they are less effective in use of the skill, but they still gain some benefit. As long as they come up with interesting ideas of how to deal with problems, I am happy.


In terms of story I tend to talk to the kid ahead of time and have them suggest some ideas. My daughter came up a story arc were the the evil pirate Captain Keepit has captured all of good Queen Olena's spies and locked them up in different places. Each session the party went to a dungeon to save a spy, until they had a final battle with Captain Keepit.

Currently we have a story line were they have to stop the schemes of an evil gang called the Lugubrious Blackguards  led by Count Von Annoy-anator Something-name, Baron Ultra-death-killer, and Blaagggggh. You get the idea.   





Ahhh, I see. I felt like I needed to steer them and suggest to them but everything I read says that is a "DM NO NO" So I think I need to kinda throw all that out the window and almost approach things in a multiple choice kind of way.

Thanks for your insight Darth!
My kids prefer a very silly, low danger, and free form game  so that is the way I run it. On the plus side they do now have a very good grasp of basic D&D concepts like AC,HP, Skill Checks, how a fighter has very diffrent abilities than a rogue, and attack and damage rolls.


Once you get a sense of what your kids prefer then you can make some adjustments as to what works for them. For instance if you children can  more or less play a more traditional game of D&D for 30 minutes before things get wonky, then you may not need to make as many adjustments as I have.    

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Start simple.

Take most of the game out of the hands of the kids, and don't sweat the details. 

Make two PCs fighters.  They get to move 6 squares each turn.  They get to attack one monster a turn, and get to attack any monster that moves near them.  When they attack, they roll a d20.  On rolls of 8 or higher they hit.  A 20 is a crit that does double damage. They do double damage when they hit.  Give them a few cards, each of which say something like "push 2" or "knock prone".  They can hand you a card before they attack to make that thing happen when they attack, if they hit.

Instead of your typical hp situations, each monster can survive X hits.  Each attack generally does 1 hit of damage.  Make most enemies minions that fall in 1 hit.

Another PC can be a cleric.  He heals allies 1 hit whenever he hits an enemy.  He can also shoot at range. 

Another PC is a mage.  He has a bunch of cards with spells.  The spells don't always deal damage, but they have powerful effects like stunning, making enemies fall asleep.   

Make another PC a rogue.  He works like a fighter, but he also gets to roll a d20 at the start of his turn.  If he gets a 15 or above no enemy can see him that round and he deals double damage.  His cards have more roguish abilities.

Monsters hit on an 8 or above generally, although fighters are hit on 12 or above only.  Give each monster 1 distinctive attack that really gets at the core of the monster.   PCs each have a card that they can hand you that totally heals them instead of attacking that turn.
 
You can fill in the rest of the details.  A simpler game is a better way to introduce players to the basic mechanics of D&D.  Don't worry about perfect balance. 
D&D & Boardgames If I have everything I need to run great games for many years without repeating stuff, why do I need to buy anything right now?
Start simple.

Take most of the game out of the hands of the kids, and don't sweat the details. 




This for sure, It sems the general leaving things open for the characters to creat and decide things AKA The Dungeon Master Guide reccomendations do not work for kids.

I can already see how "Take most of the game out of the hands of the kids" is actually going to make for a much smoother, funner game for them!

Someone should publish a "Dungeon Master's Guide For Children".

As chaotic and crazy and frustrating as it can get, I am pretty steadfast in making this work.

We were doing games like Sorry and Connect 4, Monopoly  etc, All of these game has one major problem. There was a clear winner and a clear loser.

With this D&D there is no winner or loser, everyone gets to participate equally and use their imagination and you get family time, an Interactive bed time story and so much more!

Everyone has really offered up some great pointers and I appreciate it! I was getting to the point of just giving up lol!

On the D&D website there is a series of articles on DMing for kids, if you do a search you should be able to find them.

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Don't panic. And start simple. As already posted.

But either A) Use something much simpler than 4E, or B) Do 99% of everything as a skill check, or opposed roll. Doing a real 4E combat with kids would be torturous for everyone involved. I play regularly with a really smart 12-year-old who's into gaming, and that's even pushing the limit for all of us.

You could also go with Monster Slayers, a WotC freebie that's basically hacking a few monsters for kids 6+. There's a huge gap between this level of complexity, and a regular 4E game. You might also consider another system that's not as complex as 4E.

Edit:
The question is: What is more important to you? Getting them into the role-playing hobby, or getting them into D&D? There are many games designed specifically for kids to play, that are no where near as complex as 4E.

My advice, hit up RPG.net and their many threads about gaming with kids. These two tags are where the most useful threads are. Kids gaming, and kids rpgs.
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
This will be an unpopular suggestion which will likely get flamed but as a father running games for kids there is no question in my mind that its 100% true.  4th edition D&D is just not a good game for young kids. 

For all its effort to be streamlined, simple and easy to both prepare and play it has acomplished none of those things.  Its a game that attempts to please both newbie audiances and veteran players and misses the mark on both.

Dungeons and Dragons is a good game, but for young players its just too complex, the tactical combat is way to slow to be entertaining and its focus from the narrative is constantly taxed by its extended combats which just ask way too much from a younger audiance and is far too repetative and dull for a veteran audiance.

My suggestion is try Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd edition.  The core set is expensive but its all you will EVER have to buy aside from possibly published adventures.

Compared to 4th edition, when it comes to the learning curve it is like the difference between Calculas (D&D) and basic math (Warhammer).  The world itself is fleshed out a vivid.  The rules simple.  The combat quick, yet exciting, but eliminating the need for complex tactical execution. 

Its simply a better game, especially for kids.  I run it for a group of 6-10 year olds and because it doesn't even require the players to read anymore than a couple of cards that have less text than your average Pokeman card it becomes immediatly self explanitory.  Dice rolls are translated by the GM so the players don't even need to really understand the rolls, though I have found that even players as young as six figuire it out in no time flat.  Character creation is as simple as picking cards.  Really for a young audiance its ideal.  Yet the games attractive narrative approach teaches young players to get into the role of their character as the game never pulls you out of it.

Awsome game, I strongly recommend you check it out.  The rule book itself is about as big as one chapter in the players handbook and only about half the book is actually nescessary rules, yet the clarity and coverage of every conceivable situation is far superior to anything 4th edition has managed after dozens of books.

I love 4th edition but running it for a young audiance.. no good.

My Blog (The Gamers Think Tank)

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

I would scrap 4e and try a more free form older edition of the game.  Very simple and (still) fun to play.

Here is a link for my favorite retroclone of old D&D (Labyrinth Lord).  It is a free pdf download.
www.goblinoidgames.com/labyrinthlord.htm...

I am intrigued by the new DCC RPG that has a Beta release of the playtest rules here (once again free pdf download):
www.goodman-games.com/DCCRPGbeta.html

 Any Edition

Agreed with above posters, but then, I havent used 4e for kids.

However I can vouch that the old basic d&d (Moldvay version) works well for a bunch of 10-ish year olds.  I got multiple copies of both the basic and expert book on ebayy for less than 5 bucks a pop.

For this group, making them write out their own character sheets in composition books was the best thing I did.  Yeah, those old school black and white blank books. 

The girls especially loved writing down the loot they got from monsters and treasure chests.  Plus, they took down notes of all sorts of little details and cute little drawings of their characters, creatures they beat up, maps of places, names of npcs, towns, and their mansion in said town.  They meticuously recorded all the spells and scrolls they gathered and used.  They quickly learned the ins and outs of vancian magic. For weeks afterwards, even if they werent playing, they would relive their adventures, by saying "hey remember when ____" and then consult their character sheet books.  Then they would decorate their in-game house with the trophies they got from dungeons.  In short, the character sheet book was a mini-graphic novel of THEIR adventures. 

Also you must give them baby dragons... It was probably the first thing they actively searched for in the dungeon.  I let them find a nest with dragon eggs, whose mommy dragon had been killed by an evil baron and set them on a quest for justice.  I also let them get baby beholders, baby owlbears, you name it.  I sighed and rolled my eyes everytime they got a new baby monster, but it was worth it to hear them coo excitedly and giggle about their new found pets. 

Obviously dont let the pets die, but nothing puts tension and abject terror in a game than to let their imaginary pets almost get killed.  Call of Cthulhu games?  pshhh.... true terror is in the frantic yelps of a baby blink puppy crying out for help from its master, as a Bulette races around trying to eat it whole.

The first few adventures they didnt know much about the rules, but eventually they caught on and learned quickly.  I tried to hold back on making the game too scary for them, but they were the ones demanding I play up the scary factor.  You must get feedback on what kind of story the kids like/want. 

I was free-styling the campaign the whole time, but I would fall back on story seeds which I remembered from books, movies, etc...  I tossed in some ideas from A Wrinkle In Time, where they had to rescue their in-game father from "IT", a psychic entity who mind controlled their whole town into mindless slaves (I played up the whole Invasion of the Body Snatchers thing as to the npcs they knew from their town). 

Later, I used Amberle from Elfstones of Shannara as an NPC, who later turned into a tree to save them (they wont admit it, but I saw some teary eyes that adventure). 

Their mansion was alot like the one in Robert Asprin's Myth series, and the town alot like the Bazaar at Deva. I had to have one of the girls bump into a green razorfiend who could only say "Gleep".  She accidentally fed it, which made the merchant mad, since feeding it made Gleep think of her as her master.  The price was more than they could afford, of course, and hijinks ensued.  They also found a door in their house which they dont ever remember seeing before, and when they opened it - they found a portal to the Shadowfell/Ravenloft... and of course vampires and werewolves.

But most importantly, I alternated between humor and horror as themes.  Couple that with loot and pets...  you cant go wrong.
Also you must give them baby dragons... It was probably the first thing they actively searched for in the dungeon.  I let them find a nest with dragon eggs, whose mommy dragon had been killed by an evil baron and set them on a quest for justice.  I also let them get baby beholders, baby owlbears, you name it.  I sighed and rolled my eyes everytime they got a new baby monster, but it was worth it to hear them coo excitedly and giggle about their new found pets. 




That is a freaking GREAT IDEA!!! That way it's not so much about them or their character development but about there cute little pink dragon.

I mean it's so simple I can't belive I didn't think of it earlier.

I'll just have a Giant feroucious red dragon come down out of the sky and instead of fighting it will ask them to help them find her babies or egss or whatever.

Great suggestion! Thank you!
I would scrap 4e and try a more free form older edition of the game.  Very simple and (still) fun to play.

Here is a link for my favorite retroclone of old D&D (Labyrinth Lord).  It is a free pdf download.
www.goblinoidgames.com/labyrinthlord.htm...

I am intrigued by the new DCC RPG that has a Beta release of the playtest rules here (once again free pdf download):
www.goodman-games.com/DCCRPGbeta.html



As a game for kids, I can't recommend against using DCC enough. It takes the old "fantasy vietnam" feel of d4 hit point wizards and blows it up into the core of the game. By that I mean, you're advised to make several characters as your characters WILL DIE, and die OFTEN. If you like the brutal and unforgiving nature of old D&D it's certainly a good way to go, but creating a barrel of characters because they're all about to be slaughtered isn't my idea of a good way to introduce RPGs to kids.
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
What do you think about the mini's and boards for this age group? Is it a pro or a con? I'm thinking if I simplify and speed the combat up I can throw alot more bad guys on the board and it will help.

Do you use them with players at such a young age?




I was probably about 7 or 8 when I first saw a family friend's minis and wanted to know what those incredibly interesting things were.  A few minutes later he was DMing for my first game with them, but this was either Basic or 1E AD&D.

I would say probably use the old basic ODD box sets or at least limit yourself to essentials with young kids.  Depending on their attention span, reading level, and math skills you can move them up pretty quickly by age 10 or so to more advanced things.
Also you must give them baby dragons... It was probably the first thing they actively searched for in the dungeon.  I let them find a nest with dragon eggs, whose mommy dragon had been killed by an evil baron and set them on a quest for justice.  I also let them get baby beholders, baby owlbears, you name it.  I sighed and rolled my eyes everytime they got a new baby monster, but it was worth it to hear them coo excitedly and giggle about their new found pets. 




That is a freaking GREAT IDEA!!! That way it's not so much about them or their character development but about there cute little pink dragon.

I mean it's so simple I can't belive I didn't think of it earlier.

I'll just have a Giant feroucious red dragon come down out of the sky and instead of fighting it will ask them to help them find her babies or egss or whatever.

Great suggestion! Thank you!

And it wasnt my idea!  It was the girls who wanted pets.  The boys wanted magic weapons and gold to buy castles and hire men at arms.  So, while old school D&D is more deadly, having an army of pets and men at arms, really helped the kids to survive.  Plus, I fudged alot of the actual combat rolls behind a screen. 

Oh and my point is... besides pets, their castles are just as important to them.  Eventually, as they got to level 9, they got their castle, to which they had been saving up gold for.  Just previously as they leveled up, they had cleared out a mountain fortress full of monsters.  Through roleplaying, they had convinced the last of the monsters to join them now that their boss monster was dead.  So the kids decided to build their castles on the mountain with the help of their new goblin/bugbear underlings.  The girls built treetop-fortresses on the summit of the mountain and built 7 layers of walls descending down to the bottom, poor bugbears worked for 9 months straight to make all this happen. Each layer had traps and monsters living there to protect their area from invasion.  At the bottom of the mountain, they rerouted a river to create a moat, which was filled with flesh-eating manatees.  The boys dug out the heart of the mountain and created a vast empire of tunnels and rooms, inviting some friendly dwarf clans from previous adventures to live with them.  This...  massive work of imagination was meticulously mapped out by the kids themselves.  They mapped out where their pets would live, invited their npc allies to live in/on/above their mountain.  They made villages and houses for all these people.  There was a town full of pixies and fairies that they had befriended earlier.  I fudged on the costs of course.  And only limited their imagination where it ran too off course, but otherwise I let them use their hard earned gold to buy the ultimate disneyland of their dreams.  For the maps, I had the really big blank paper used by water color artists and let them have a go at it.

Also, I forgot to mention, we used lots of miniatures.  I used minis and maps whether they were in a town, in the wilderness, or in a dungeon, there was never a moment when maps and minis werent being used.  With that said, roleplaying was heavily used at all times, even in combat.  Kids have great imaginations, being able to draw it out of them is the trick.  But minis help them visual who is where, and the map helps them to figure out where to go.

Also you must give them baby dragons...

That is a freaking GREAT IDEA!!!

And it wasnt my idea!  It was the girls who wanted pets.  The boys wanted magic weapons and gold to buy castles and hire men at arms.  So, while old school D&D is more deadly, having an army of pets and men at arms, really helped the kids to survive.  Plus, I fudged alot of the actual combat rolls behind a screen. 

Oh and my point is... besides pets, their castles are just as important to them.  Eventually, as they got to level 9, they got their castle, to which they had been saving up gold for.  Just previously as they leveled up, they had cleared out a mountain fortress full of monsters.  Through roleplaying, they had convinced the last of the monsters to join them now that their boss monster was dead.  So the kids decided to build their castles on the mountain with the help of their new goblin/bugbear underlings.  The girls built treetop-fortresses on the summit of the mountain and built 7 layers of walls descending down to the bottom, poor bugbears worked for 9 months straight to make all this happen. Each layer had traps and monsters living there to protect their area from invasion.  At the bottom of the mountain, they rerouted a river to create a moat, which was filled with flesh-eating manatees.  The boys dug out the heart of the mountain and created a vast empire of tunnels and rooms, inviting some friendly dwarf clans from previous adventures to live with them.  This...  massive work of imagination was meticulously mapped out by the kids themselves.  They mapped out where their pets would live, invited their npc allies to live in/on/above their mountain.  They made villages and houses for all these people.  There was a town full of pixies and fairies that they had befriended earlier.  I fudged on the costs of course.  And only limited their imagination where it ran too off course, but otherwise I let them use their hard earned gold to buy the ultimate disneyland of their dreams.  For the maps, I had the really big blank paper used by water color artists and let them have a go at it.

Also, I forgot to mention, we used lots of miniatures.  I used minis and maps whether they were in a town, in the wilderness, or in a dungeon, there was never a moment when maps and minis werent being used.  With that said, roleplaying was heavily used at all times, even in combat.  Kids have great imaginations, being able to draw it out of them is the trick.  But minis help them visual who is where, and the map helps them to figure out where to go.


I'd play in your game in a second, if it didn't make me the creepy old guy.  That is just so many buckets of awesome!  It's exactly the kind of world-building that I loved when I first playing D&D at 9 years old. I can totally imagine you telling your kids, "All right, so what do you want to do next?" and them blowing your mind with some wonderfully insane idea... flesh-eating manatees, indeed!

It's also yet more proof how a few props can really spur the imagination and roleplaying!  I will continue buying up any D&D minis I can find for when I get to DM for my kids.**  It looks like I will need to pick up a few of those "useless" Visible pack minis after all- I can see an army of griffons and unicorns in some future campaign.  Too bad they don't make "baby" minis (unless you count the Kruthik Youngling)!

**Are you listening, WotC?  Give the adults their pogs, but kids, new gamers in general, and some of us adults prefer cool minis!  (Your last set, Lords of Madness, was a perfect mix of utility and unusual critters, huge, large and small, without any of the previous non-random visible pack headaches.)
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
For younguns, D&D is really easy. It doesn't even require the rules!

This is your family's story time. However, the youngsters also expect a game, because they know it's a game.

Keep the combat simple, d20 to hit and dX to damage.

Let the kids drive. Your job as DM in this setting is vastly different than what it would be for recommended aged players. Keep the momentum rolling and provide bad guys.

Story heavy, combat medium, crazy normal D&D stuff light or non-existent.
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I don't have a perfect memory, thus I don't always recall the rules and mechanics perfectly. I also don't usually peruse the book before opening my "mouth", so cut me some slack if I'm little off every now and again. When logic fails to be present, the rational must inject logic into the situation.
Ego pad:
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Groveborn: Mesinock, I have been complimented on my ability to convey a message, but I think you are my superior. I haven't noticed you posting much, except when things get very convoluted, but when you do post, it's worth reading.
I had a second thought based upon my first experience with roleplaying:

When I was young I played a role playing game that was very simple.  We were all spied trying to break into a building and steal some top secret plans.  The game master took a deck of cards, shuffled it and dealt it to the 4 players, with each player getting 13 cards.  Then, he gave each of us a role.  I was the muscle.  Another guy was the locksmith.  Another guy was the marksman.  The last guy was the sneak.  

He told us what equipment each of us had and described our approach to the building.  Then we told him what we wanted to do.  Whenever we wanted to do something that had a chance of failure, he'd tell us how hard the thing was that we wanted to do, and he'd tell us to select any number of cards from our hand and put them in front of us.  Meanwhile he wrote down what we had to have 'played' to be successful (such as, "a face card", "a black card", "2 black cards", etc...).  Then he revealed what we needed to play and we showed whether we played it.  Then, half of the cards we used were randomly discarded and the remaining cards were split amongst the other players. 

It was a 'make it up as you go' thing, but it worked and we had a lot of fun. 

Role playing is NOT about the system.  The system just handles the strategy game part of an RPG.  It doesn't get at the core of what makes an RPG great.  If people learn to play in simple systems like this, they get a chance to understand some of the really important concepts in RPGs, such as you're not limited to the powers on a PC - you can choose to try anything, even if the rules do not explicitly cover it, such as swinging from a chandelier or trying to use a fireball spell to blow up powder kegs. 
D&D & Boardgames If I have everything I need to run great games for many years without repeating stuff, why do I need to buy anything right now?
DMing for kids is a challenge.   Having parents present - either participating or supervising - is a big help.  Some kids just aren't ready for RPGs, for the attention, focus, teamwork, and consideration for others that they require.

I'm trying, Hours of prep work, Excel sheets for the monsters...You name it.

What are some quick tips for keeping things going forward and smoothly? When all hell breaks loose, what are some of your go to tacticts to get things back on track?

Build on what the players do.  If they 'do the wrong thing,' use a magician's force and /make/ it the right thing.  Like if they kill the NPC that's central to the plot, have it transform in death - it was an evil shapeshifter!  Now find and save the real one!  Don't hand everything to them, but have anything they do lead to a hook back into the original plotline, maybe with some extra challenges or missed oportunities for taking the 'back way.'

I tried the minatures but I dunno, maybe it is just because I am old school but the minatures seem to be more of a distraction and immersion breaker than they are helping.

Minis are very concrete, so they do help players focus on where everyone is and what's going on.  If you're /used/ to visualizing everything, they don't stack up to your imagination, though. 


So what I am looking for is some really fun, needed all the time DC's I can tape on to my DM Screen and anything else you find really helps your DM Screen.

I don't use a DM screen in 4e, I find the game runs well 'above board,' letting the dice fall where they may (figuratively).  As for reference, there really isn't a lot - everything you need to run most monsters is in the monster stat block.  There are no attack matrixes or saving throw tables or anything like that.  The table of skill DCs, perhaps, and cliff notes on the various conditions, might be good.

I'm not giving up yet, but so Far Session one was fun and ok. Session two was a nightmare...Session three...well let's just say Session three may have totally killed D&D at my household it went so bad.

Details?

Also, any tips for DM'n younger players/little kids? I am currently DM'n a party with a 10 Year old (Who is doing fine) a 8 Year old (Who has the attention span of a chicken) and a four year old (Oh my god..) and my wif (Who is doing fine).

Four is almost certainly too young.  The only time I saw a kid that young being successful and non-disruptive in a game, her character was litterally a cat (not a cat person or felinoid, an actually, purring-or-hissing-not-talking kitty-cat).  Short attention span is very hard to deal with, an RPG just requires some focus.  You could just let him do something else when it's not combat, and not his turn /in/ combat, unless/until he gets interested. 

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

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Four is almost certainly too young.  Short attention span is very hard to deal with, an RPG just requires some focus.  You could just let him do something else when it's not combat, and not his turn /in/ combat, unless/until he gets interested. 




That is pretty much the details right there lol.


You are right though, I have come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is let her get distracted or wander off and come and go. So mean to say but the less she is involed the better things go Innocent   
  
I'm trying, Hours of prep work, Excel sheets for the monsters...You name it.

What are some quick tips for keeping things going forward and smoothly? When all hell breaks loose, what are some of your go to tacticts to get things back on track?


I tried the minatures but I dunno, maybe it is just because I am old school but the minatures seem to be more of a distraction and immersion breaker than they are helping.


Lastly but most importanty, THE DM SCREEN.

I love having one, but frankly this latest one is lame. What are some things I can print out or that you use that are always referenced, common, and are great Go To's for some fun?

This one I purchased made me so mad, half of the screen is not info, It is just tells me what page to go to in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

So what I am looking for is some really fun, needed all the time DC's I can tape on to my DM Screen and anything else you find really helps your DM Screen.




I'm not giving up yet, but so Far Session one was fun and ok. Session two was a nightmare...Session three...well let's just say Session three may have totally killed D&D at my household it went so bad.

Also, any tips for DM'n younger players/little kids? I am currently DM'n a party with a 10 Year old (Who is doing fine) a 8 Year old (Who has the attention span of a chicken) and a four year old (Oh my god..) and my wif (Who is doing fine).






Well, do what I did. Strip the game down to the essence. I printed some of the maps that I scanned onto 110# paper (iirc). Nice color ones and cut and taped them up. My kids were intrigued. They are 5 and 7. They were itching to play but it looked complex to them with the big encyclopedia books.

So I went to the essence of the game: imagination set in a heroic, fantastical  world with abstract combat, shiny treasures and fierce monsters.
I had some of the platic minis for monsters and I stuck them randomly on the map with coins under them. Each player could move their character up to 5. Green and dark blue squares counted as 2. When adjacent to a monster they could choose to fight it.

Roll higher on 2d6 then the monster and you get the treasure. Monsters with a quarter underneath got a +1. If the monster tied or won you get nothing that turn. When all monsters are defeated add up your treasure, reset the map and play again.

At this age, the interaction, taking turns, adding, counting, comparing numbers are good math lessons. Imagining that you are a hero slaying monsters is also good fun. The game as a whole at this age is far too complex even for most 10 y/os. Strip it down and enjoy time with your family.

edit:  if sessions 2 and 3 were horrible and you are against mini's cause you are too old-school and think they are immersion breaking give clues. You aren't playing to entertain your family. You are playing for you. Reconsider your motivations.

edit2: I apologize if it sounds harsh but really consider the attention span, interests, and ability of young children. 


Well, do what I did. Strip the game down to the essence. I printed some of the maps that I scanned onto 110# paper (iirc). Nice color ones and cut and taped them up. My kids were intrigued. They are 5 and 7. They were itching to play but it looked complex to them with the big encyclopedia books.

So I went to the essence of the game: imagination set in a heroic, fantastical  world with abstract combat, shiny treasures and fierce monsters.
I had some of the platic minis for monsters and I stuck them randomly on the map with coins under them. Each player could move their character up to 5. Green and dark blue squares counted as 2. When adjacent to a monster they could choose to fight it.

Roll higher on 2d6 then the monster and you get the treasure. Monsters with a quarter underneath got a +1. If the monster tied or won you get nothing that turn. When all monsters are defeated add up your treasure, reset the map and play again.

At this age, the interaction, taking turns, adding, counting, comparing numbers are good math lessons. Imagining that you are a hero slaying monsters is also good fun. The game as a whole at this age is far too complex even for most 10 y/os. Strip it down and enjoy time with your family.




This is absolutely wonderful. +5

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I don't have a perfect memory, thus I don't always recall the rules and mechanics perfectly. I also don't usually peruse the book before opening my "mouth", so cut me some slack if I'm little off every now and again. When logic fails to be present, the rational must inject logic into the situation.
Ego pad:
Show
Groveborn: Mesinock, I have been complimented on my ability to convey a message, but I think you are my superior. I haven't noticed you posting much, except when things get very convoluted, but when you do post, it's worth reading.

Don’t panic.


When DMing for children don’t get so hung up on the rules. Also lots of prep time is more of hindrance than a benefit. Just set up very simple situations like a town is under attack, the mayor’s child has been kidnapped, or there is a bad is guy in the ruined castle that needs to be stopped. Also don’t expect kids to be able to tolerate a 2-4 hour game session. If you can get them having fun for 30 minutes, you did good.


Don’t let combat get over complicated. Don't be afraid to have monsters die after 1 or 2 hits (regardless of how many hp they have left), or surrender or run away when your children’s attention is waning. If they want to try something wacky just go with it, or let them roll a d20 with a high chance of success.


Remember in playing D&D with your kids the point is to teach them how to play D&D (role-playing, using their imagination, working together as a team etc.) not teach D&D rules.




Great post! I can't imagine playing D&D with kids so young, though perhaps if the PCs were kids themselves it might work better?

edit:  if sessions 2 and 3 were horrible and you are against mini's cause you are too old-school and think they are immersion breaking give clues. You aren't playing to entertain your family. You are playing for you. Reconsider your motivations.

edit2: I apologize if it sounds harsh but really consider the attention span, interests, and ability of young children. 


Really I can go either way with the mini's myself. I just couldn't tell if they were helping and adding to the experience for the kids or detracting from it.


After reading the success so many others have had using he mini's I am going to continue with them. Just going forward I am going to take the great advice in this thread such as simplifying the combat, the movement, making the monsters "Minions" in regard to HP and attacking. I think that will make playing, particularly with the mini's a better experience for everyone. 

This thread has helped me tremendously, I was trying to follow the advice and suggestions from the source books in regars to DM'n. But like others have said, that advice is for the appropriate age. I think going forward I need to throw all the DM Rules and advice out the window.


Less is more, handholding and direction pointing, Not leaving everything open and shifting to more of a "Here are your options" or a multiple choice formats will eliminiate most of the hurdles I have been facing.        

  
There's a group for D&D parents on the boards, they probably have lots of advice:
community.wizards.com/dndparents 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
There's a group for D&D parents on the boards, they probably have lots of advice:
community.wizards.com/dndparents 



I was just about to post the same thing. There are some good stories of parents and kids playing together there. It has not been very active, but there is still a lot of good reads.
There's a group for D&D parents on the boards, they probably have lots of advice:
community.wizards.com/dndparents 

I was just about to post the same thing. There are some good stories of parents and kids playing together there. It has not been very active, but there is still a lot of good reads.

AWESOME.  Heading there now.

But my 2 cents:  I bought my nephew (4-yrs old at the time) a BUNCH of Star Wars minis, mixed in a few D&D minis, and we played using some of the different color grid maps (some from the mini sets, some from various D&D Game Days).  I let him pick his "party" as well as what bad guys I got to play, and then we took turns rolling d20s with a generic "AC" of 10 to see who beat who.  We also decided that powerful good guys had to get hit twice to go down, like General Kenobi vs. the Red Dragon.  Not only did it help with his learning to count to 20, we had a good time and he sort of learned the d20 mechanic.  Next time I'll throw some new aspect into it, now that he just turned five...  Good practice for when my kids are old enough to do something other than choke on polyhedral dice!

-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
There's a group for D&D parents on the boards, they probably have lots of advice:
community.wizards.com/dndparents 

I was just about to post the same thing. There are some good stories of parents and kids playing together there. It has not been very active, but there is still a lot of good reads.

AWESOME.  Heading there now.

But my 2 cents:  I bought my nephew (4-yrs old at the time) a BUNCH of Star Wars minis, mixed in a few D&D minis, and we played using some of the different color grid maps (some from the mini sets, some from various D&D Game Days).  I let him pick his "party" as well as what bad guys I got to play, and then we took turns rolling d20s with a generic "AC" of 10 to see who beat who.  We also decided that powerful good guys had to get hit twice to go down, like General Kenobi vs. the Red Dragon.  Not only did it help with his learning to count to 20, we had a good time and he sort of learned the d20 mechanic.  Next time I'll throw some new aspect into it, now that he just turned five...  Good practice for when my kids are old enough to do something other than choke on polyhedral dice!




It's been great for my daughter who is learning math. She's in the Kumon math program, and D&D is good for practicing the kind of math she's doing in that program. She's getting faster than I am at adding up modifiers and seeing if it hit the target number.

What an INTERESTING SUBJECT!

My sons are in their 20's now and they no longer play, but back when they were really young (6-9ish) I used DnD "style" games to teach them. There were a lot of lessons:

Math
Geometry
Communication
Logic

and most important: Ethics and morality

I ran the game very simply for them. They each had stats for AC, Damage, THAC0 (at the time) and HPs.  The stats weren't as important as the story lines. Each had a moral challenge that they needed to resolve. As an example, Is it alright to just kill a man because you thought he was a thief? If your friend suggests that you sneak into the dark house on the hill, is that OK? They learned, through the consequences to their characters in roleplaying, about right and wrong.
-------------------- D&D Player/DM since 1975 - Veteran of Chainmail, AD&D, 2e, v3.5, DnD4e and now Next.