CoC with my 7-year-old

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I just ran the playtest material for my 7-year-old son and wife. He played the rogue and she played the Moradin cleric. He saw a mini of a monkey that he liked, so I quickly made up some stats for him as an animal companion. It was much more successful than trying to run 4e for him (or even the Castle Ravenloft boardgame). Given the structure of the game, he could really just describe what he was doing and I would tell him what attribute to roll. We ran through the kobold caves. I cut the number of kobolds in half, since there was just the two of them (plus the monkey). Some of the high points:

- With the rat swarm bearing down, he said he wanted to rig the pit trap so he could open it with the pull of a rope and trap them inside.
- In the battle with the elite kobolds, he said he wanted to convince the last one to join them and be a good guy. He rolled a 20 on his Charisma check, so they acquired a new henchman, Dave the Kobold.
- He tried to convince the kobold chieftain to give up but didn't roll nearly as well. After being attacked, my son announces that he is going to cut his leg off and rolls a 20. My wife, using Crusader's Strike, followed with a 20 of her own. Dave also hit and the monkey finished him off.

One thing that was nice was not having to deal with the battle mat. We had the minis out, just because my wife paints them and they look awesome, but other than some vague positioning, we did it all Theater of the Mind.
That sounds like a great experience overall, thank you for sharing it! What about stumbling blocks, did you hit any?
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'
This is excellent and I'm glad you had a blast.

Chidlren don't need all the extraneous materials adults do. Their minds are not cluttered with useless information.

A smart move business-wise for WoTC - you should always work on the next generation of consumers.  

And what an awesome family night.

I'm a little envious I'll admit.  
Glad you had a pleasant experience. My son (who is 9 and loves 4th ed) hated it though this morning he did say after thinking it over he'd give it a 3 or 4 out of 5. Ah well.
visit my blog about writing, voice-over,and games (and not necessarily in that order) at mdarinyoung.wordpress.com
Glad you had a pleasant experience. My son (who is 9 and loves 4th ed) hated it though this morning he did say after thinking it over he'd give it a 3 or 4 out of 5. Ah well.



I played with 3 children 8-12 years old. They all said they preferred 4E, and near the end of our last session they were getting pretty bored and having their characters do back flips (with dex mod of -1) out of sheer boredom...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
@HighlandRaider and lokiare: did you ask them what, specifically, they like so much about 4E and dislike so much about the playtest?  That sort of feedback would help a lot more than simply saying, "He hated it" or "They were bored".

@OP: Sounds like a lot of fun.  I played with my friend's son (who is 7), and he had a lot of fun.  He played the wizard and really liked all the different spells.  Thought to use Comprehend Languages right away.
Sounds like an awesome game... I love the monkey and Dave... Kids have great imagination.

I am so stealing that idea and giving the players an opportunity to aquire Dave the Kobold next session. :D

It will be a great catalyst.  


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




That sounds like a great experience overall, thank you for sharing it! What about stumbling blocks, did you hit any?


None, really. He was very upset the first time he took damage, but he's generally a bit excitable. Once we calmed him down, things were fine.

I used the playtest material to introduce the game to my 9 y.o.
He had mixed feelings. He liked the combat but not the story telling.
My 4 y.o. loves the game. He calls it "That Game." He keeps asking to play it and loves using magic missile.  He loves rolling the dice and making the decisions.
I started playing D&D in the 80's. I've played D&D, 1e, 2e, and 3.xe (and many other RPGs). I also played Magic since it came out (except for a few years around the change of the millennium. I say this so you know a bit of my experience, not because I care about editions.
Eberg, very nice post, sir!  Wish I had kids to share things like that with.  I love how kids some up with creative ideas and think outside the box.  I know that being young, they might not have a lot to compare it with but what did you guys think about the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic?  The Race/Class/Background/Theme options?  Healing?
@HighlandRaider and lokiare: did you ask them what, specifically, they like so much about 4E and dislike so much about the playtest?  That sort of feedback would help a lot more than simply saying, "He hated it" or "They were bored".





What he "hated" were the low hit points. Too easy to drop. Mainly concerned about other characters dropping too easily and no healing surges, etc. to rely on. Dislikes rolling dice for spell effect for recovered hit points. He seldom became that concerned with characters in 4th ed. Also didn't like the -20 initiative if surprised. He said he did like the "cleanliness" of one sheet for his fighter and did like some of the abilities given as part of the Background/Theme. Not really sure why he "hated" it last night. But, as I said earlier, "Ah well" he did change his mind and say this morning he would give it a 3 or 4 (so 3.5) out of 5 star rating.

visit my blog about writing, voice-over,and games (and not necessarily in that order) at mdarinyoung.wordpress.com
@HighlandRaider and lokiare: did you ask them what, specifically, they like so much about 4E and dislike so much about the playtest?  That sort of feedback would help a lot more than simply saying, "He hated it" or "They were bored".

@OP: Sounds like a lot of fun.  I played with my friend's son (who is 7), and he had a lot of fun.  He played the wizard and really liked all the different spells.  Thought to use Comprehend Languages right away.



generally it was that the mechanics were boring. Even though I had them describe their actions and allowed them to improvise, they still found that it was boring...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I would gladly run the Next to my nephews (  probably with their father as he braught me to D&D in first place Wink  ) , but the  problem is language barrier - they speak polish, not know enough english. Know is Wizards will try on Free RPG Day some multilngual promo materials?

Older girl ( almost 11 y.o. ) lovs to play polish version of Munchkin, and yonger boy ( 8 y.o. ) is Star Wars fanboy, so there are future players. Cool My boyfriend say he is glad we don't have kids, because they would play RPGs before be able to read. Tongue Out
I had an enchanting experience with my five-year-old brother as well. I'm so proud!

Due to his short attention span, I have a special campaign just for him so he can go away and pick up where he left off. He named all his characters after Transformers. To interest him, I went with the hook where the heir to the throne was kidnapped. I said they were looking for the princess, and he named her Arcee (a female Transformer).

He doesn't understand the game mechanics yet--he's still learning to read--so I usually try to narrate the action vividly and remind him of the various ablilities the characters have. He loves rolling the dice! I was pleased by his creativity at one point. The party was faced with the dilemma of whether to take a short rest and risk getting caught by any kobolds that might come to investigate the fighting sounds outside their lair. He decided to have the party hide in the nearby group of trees heal there.

As I've said, his attention span isn't the same as that of an adult player, so he gets bored after a while, but he'll get bored with just about anything. I take it as a great sign that he still asks me if we can play some.
Eberg, very nice post, sir!  Wish I had kids to share things like that with.  I love how kids some up with creative ideas and think outside the box.  I know that being young, they might not have a lot to compare it with but what did you guys think about the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic?  The Race/Class/Background/Theme options?  Healing?


Advantage and disadvantage is very straightforward. He had no problem wrapping his head around them.

I noted that when I described the characters to him, I did so by using the race and background in many cases, rather than race and class. Dwarf Soldier, Dwarf Knight, Human Priest. He dug getting to pick a mundane profession for the Commoner Rogue. He decided he was a hunter who used traps, so he knew how to make traps really well.
 
We didn't get into healing overly much. Other than a use of Healing Word, it wasn't needed, because they were using creative tactics to avoid prolonged fights.

Great post, and valuable playtest feedback!  Sounds like the "ruling not rules" mantra is holding up to a 7-year-old stress test.  Great session.  My players wish they had a monkey!
It's great to hear other experiences with kids!  I've been doing it with my 9 and 11 year olds.  We'd played original AD&D before - that went reasonably well, but this is much easier, and they've had more play out of it as a result.  The best thing is that they've wanted to learn to DM, but original rules were too complex.  Next is easy enough for them to just have a quick briefing, then create their own dungeons and go.  That's been great fun for all of us.

I love Dave and the monkey.  I fear to tell my children, otherwise they will insist that I introduce them too.

My eldest has got the most out of being DM - he loves being able to make up the environment and situation.  For example, he had a particularly distractable (and hungry goblin), who broke off the battle (in which he wasn't killing anyone) to eat a sandwich.  This was sufficiently distracting that we got a couple of extra attacks and killed him.  You may argue that this is a ludicrous thing for a goblin to do, but my eldest thought it was wonderful, and really enjoyed retelling us all about the sandwich-oriented goblin after the game was over.


generally it was that the mechanics were boring. Even though I had them describe their actions and allowed them to improvise, they still found that it was boring...



Every group is different.  I DM for my sons and their friends, 6 boys 9-13, and we ran a version of the playtest the other day ( I say  a version because I never play straight up, I always tinker with the rules).  They all started with 4e and really enjoy it; however, most also really enjoyed Next as well. 

At first they had problems getting used to not having specific "powers" and just improvising, but once they did they were off and running.  FYI, all characters omly had basic attacks (even the wizard) and had to improvise everything else.

They were quite creative and had a great time once they got the hang of it (I had to give them some examples).  No one did anything out of boredom (and I'm a pretty boring DM), so I think it is more an individual/group dynamic vs. the playtest material so much.  After we finish off our 10th level adventure in 4e I think I am going to switch to a version of next (though I want to see maneuvers first).
So jealous of everyone! My kids are five and three. Still, my five year old is really into maps and stuff like that. I think I'l pull out my old 1E Greyhawk maps this afternoon and see if it grabs her interest.

You know, I was thining the other day how much Dora the Explorer is set up like D&D - the objective, the map, illustrating the series of challenges/encounters, and the monsters (mainly Swiper). Hopefuly it translates for my kids. 
The first time I played with my kids, using 1E rules, it went really well.  My youngest was 5 years old but already able to read enough to understand the character sheet reasonably well, and was also able to deal with the numbers.  Eldest helped youngest and I helped both, and we were fine.  The imagination part comes really easily to them, and the mechanics can be simplified enough (or hidden enough) for them to cope.  It's like a story where they get to influence what happens.