About a year ago, I lamented on Facebook that I didn’t know of any tabletop RPGs that were super-accessible for young children (mine were 2, 3, and 5 at the time). I had some friends chime in with a few suggestions, one of which was Hero Kids. I looked it up and liked what I saw. In it, the kids are the heroes. They’re not just kids playing adults; they’re kids playing kids. Additionally, the rules seemed like they were wisely simplified in ways that allowed plenty of freedom to get creative with those rules as appropriate for the group.
We tried the introductory campaign, and my two oldest had a mostly good time. We hadn’t played traditional tabletop RPGs before, so figuring out how to properly DM to keep such young kids motivated was tricky. It took two sessions to get through the initial campaign, but it was fun. It took a (really long) while for the kids to collectively want to play again, but we’re working on our second full campaign and having a really good time. I thought it might be fun to catalog our exploits in hopes that they entertain somebody else.
To help give some context for the stories, I should probably give a quick rundown of the basics of encounters in this system. Attacking, defending, ability checks, etc. are all performed with a series of six-sided dice. Different abilities or skills may alter the actual number of dice rolled, but the core is simple: the highest number rolled across the dice is the number used in resolving the action. This means that more dice increases the odds of a great roll, but doesn’t increase the actual maximum number of the result—you can’t roll better than a 6 no matter how hard you try. When attacking, if the attacker’s highest die is greater than or equal to the defender’s highest die, the attack hits and the defender loses one hit point. For ability checks, a difficulty score is determined (either by the GM or by the story itself); if the roll matches or beats the difficulty score, the ability attempt is successful.
The availability of attack types, defense capabilities, or other abilities is based on the actual character selected. For example, the hunter characters get two dice for ranged attacks and one die for defending whereas the knight gets one die for melee attacks and three for defending.
When moving, characters can move 4 spaces on the grid. Melee attacks affect enemies in adjacent squares including diagonals. Classic ranged attacks (arrows, thrown objects, etc.) can reach up to 6 squares away, but get 1 fewer die against directly adjacent squares. Magic attacks have a maximum range of 4 squares and receive no penalty for directly adjacent squares.
When a player or enemy reaches 0 hit points, they are knocked out (or whatever incapacitated state fits best).
In encounters, the kids take their turn as a team. Specific order of the moves doesn’t matter; they all go in whatever way best facilitates their plan. Likewise, on the bad guys’ turn, they all move in whatever order makes sense. To start an encounter, both sides roll a single die each, the side that rolls highest gets to have their turn first.
I’ve opted for a few house rules to either streamline the gameplay or makes things a bit more accessible/enjoyable for the kids:
I’m letting the kids (and sometimes the bad guys) move 6 squares for a move instead. Our first quest was fairly slower paced because there were turns where kids just moved toward the fray instead of into it.
I’ve also declared that “ties always go to the kids.” So for example, if an attack and defense roll tie, the attack hits if the kid is attacking and doesn’t if the kid is defending.
I think that covers the basics in a way that will facilitate the storytelling for future posts, so we’ll start with our first session (from a year ago). I’ll be somewhat light on the details because I don’t remember a whole lot, but it’ll help get me into a format to describe our more recent adventures in future posts. Rather than go point-by-point through the game materials, I’ll relay what happened in our story which may or may not follow the intended flow, so this should be a big difference from just a straight-up review of the original material.
Go on to the next post for the fun to begin.