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Subject: D&D with kids rss

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Denise Patterson-Monroe
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Hi all - after posting on a recent thread about 4E D&D that I played D&D with kids, someone sent me a PM to ask how to get started with kids & D&D. She is considering getting a D&D game going for her 9 and 13 YOs.

I ended up writing such a long reply, and realizing that there were so many gaps in my knowledge, that I thought I'd post it for anyone who might be thinking about starting a group for kids, or (more likely ) for anyone who has better advice than mine to chime in. Thanks to all who can contribute!


Hi there! Yes, I've been playing D&D with my 8 YO daughter and her two friends, age 9 and 11, and the friend's mom (a D&D newbie) for a couple months now. We're going pretty slow, and we're almost done with our first big adventure.

First, to get started, you need to decide if you want to play 3.5E or 4E.

3.5E is the 'old' version - it's easy to get started in because you can find the books in used bookstores or online for pretty cheap. I got the 3 core books (the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Player's Handbook, and the Monster Manual) for less than $10 each at a local used bookstore. Those books, dice, and paper are all you need.

For 4E, your best bet to get started is to wait until next month when Wizards of the Coast is supposed to release a box set for $17 that is designed for beginners. It's not the 'full deal' and from what I can tell, if you get into it you are still going to have to buy the core three books eventually (about $35 each right now), but it should be enough to find out if the kids will like it.

3.5E is what I'm using with my kids. I simplified the combat system - I basically threw out the attack of opportunity and grappling rules and for combats we simply roll for initiative and then everyone takes turns taking one action each. It's not perfect, but it's simple enough for young kids to keep track. Combats are short, typically under 15 minutes even with arguing about what they should do. We haven't used any minis yet, but I may add those if the kids are still this excited about it in a few months.

4E however might be better if your kids are really excited about the combat. MY group sees combat as a way to get these pesky monsters out of the way so they can get to the treasure! But some kids might be more interested in the combat, and 4E provides a lot more scope for exciting combat. If your kids are the type who say things like "I want to knock the orc back and keep him in the corner away from our wizard so the wizard can cast that spell", then consider 4E. If however, your kids say "I attack the orc", then 3.5E. 4E also uses minis, which is a lot of fun but potentially expensive. You can start with paper cutouts or whatever though. We tried a 4E adventure and my daughter enjoyed it until the combats started getting long. Someone made the suggestion to me to cut HP in half for long combats to fix that, but we haven't tried that yet. The same person also told me that it takes about 3 sessions before 4E combat starts to really come together and the players begin to grok it, so keep that in mind - if your kids can be patient that long!

Still, for me right now, 3.5 is the way to go, and part of that is because of the adventures. At the moment there are a lot of adventures already published for 3.5, and since it's the 'old' version, you can pick them up for cheap. I really like Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics for kids, they are simpler and more straightforward on plot, you basically go in and kill everything. Plus, Goodman Games is going to discontine the 3.5 adventures later this year (and I have no idea if that means tomorrow or end of December), so they are half off on their website. You can also get PDFs of these for as low as $3.50 and then print it off if you have access to a printer. I got Legends are Made, Not Born to start off my group, and we are going to do some adventures from The Adventure Begins next.

That's really your big decision, which system to go with. After that, it's all things like being extra-patient while they wander around doing things that have NOTHING to do with the adventure. They will NOT approach adventures in a linear way, and you just have to accept that to a certain extent. Plus, no matter how much you tell them to take notes, they will forget half the plot. This can lead to some really amusing moments, such as when our group decided to drink the ale they found in the ogre's storeroom, COMPLETELY forgetting that they had earlier had a LONG conversation with the town brewer who explained that he had put a mild poison in the ale that went to the ogre!! Just let this stuff happen - either they will learn from it, or it will add to the laughs. As mom and DM though, it's sometimes hard not to remind them of stuff they should be thinking about!!

I don't fudge die rolls for the kids, but I have given each of them ONE 'get out of jail free card' - they each, one time only, can re-roll a dice roll if (and ONLY if) the first dice roll has a result that leads directly to their death. I've explained to them that characters will get killed, but I'm also trying to soften that blow a little bit. YMMV - it's up to you to decide how you want to handle character death based on what works best for your kids. We have not had any deaths yet, but we had one character go to negative hit points. It was actually an interesting experience to see the group react - they had been joking around and pretend-fighting, acting out the combat. As soon as I announced that the ogre had thrown the elf against the wall so hard that she was knocked out and would die soon if no one helped her, they COMPLETELY worked together as a group to get to her and save her. The gnome threw a tanglefoot bag to keep the ogre immobilized away from her, the fighter who had a healing potion ran over to her to administer it, and the dwarf stayed on the ogre to keep him busy in case he broke free from the tanglefoot bag. They got the elf back up on her feet in two rounds, and clearly felt really proud of their plan and how well it had worked. (As a mom, it's really great for me to see the kids planning and problem solving like this, too!)

Expect a certain amount of LARPing to happen. The kids regularly wear costumes or jump up and do mock-combats when it's time to fight. We keep our sessions short - abut 3 hours - and have a short break in the middle of them, and during the break the kids will go outside and play, usually acting out the most recent combat.

If you are going to play with kids, unless you have a large family, you will probably want to recruit other players. Other kids your kid knows who also would like D&D are the best choice. Don't even bother to try to convince kids who go 'D&D? That sounds SOOOO stupid.' You might think adults who have already played D&D would be a good choice, but I'd advise against it unless the adult is VERY patient and VERY good at letting kids take their own lead. Otherwise, either the adult will take charge and make all the decisions, since they already know how the game works, and the kids will get bored, or else the kids will drive the adult crazy because the kids will make the 'wrong' choices most of the time. An interested adult who has no previous D&D experience is fine, assuming, again that they are able to be patient.

Hope that helps!! That's all I can think of at the moment, but if I think of anything else later, I'll post it. If anyone else has any suggestions, please chime in - thanks!
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Paul DeStefano
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My 6 and 9 LOVE 4th ed. They hated 3.5.

The D20 resolve for EVERYTHING and no tables means that even my 6 year old girl can do the math and figure successes.

They enjoy the combat aspect AND the roleplaying. We do 2 hours, food break, 2 hours, which is usually enough for 2 big encounters and some filler stuff.

Its not a kids group. I'm the DM (40), the kids, an 3 other players are 45, 38 and 43. It actually works VERY well, as the kids take skills based on the fact they are kids (my daughter is insanely powerful in combat, knowing she's usually not good at tactical thinking, my son specializes in teleporting and basically detecting lies, because he likes to hang back but never knows who to trust).

Go for it.
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Mike Jones
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My 14 year old son, played a few roleplaying games at a con at the beginning of the summer and LOVE roleplaying. He's talked now a couple times about trying to find someone to play with.

All I took away from it was some deep sense as a failure as a parent for not introducing him to D&D already
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Morgan Dontanville
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Denise, you know that this will turn your kids into Satan worshipers, right?
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The Galaxy is Just Packed!
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sisteray wrote:
Denise, you know that this will turn your kids into Satan worshipers, right?


Sadly, there are way too many people who will think you are serious. And who believe that statement is correct. Of course, those people are stupid.
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Denise Patterson-Monroe
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Geosphere wrote:
My 6 and 9 LOVE 4th ed. They hated 3.5.

The D20 resolve for EVERYTHING and no tables means that even my 6 year old girl can do the math and figure successes.

They enjoy the combat aspect AND the roleplaying. We do 2 hours, food break, 2 hours, which is usually enough for 2 big encounters and some filler stuff.

Its not a kids group. I'm the DM (40), the kids, an 3 other players are 45, 38 and 43. It actually works VERY well, as the kids take skills based on the fact they are kids (my daughter is insanely powerful in combat, knowing she's usually not good at tactical thinking, my son specializes in teleporting and basically detecting lies, because he likes to hang back but never knows who to trust).

Go for it.


Thanks Paul, for jumping in! I'd give your experience more weight than mine, especially on the subject of kids & adults playing together, since I've only been doing this for a short time and only played one session with a D&D experienced adult and a child, and the adult in question DOES tends to be a little OCD about things....
 
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Denise Patterson-Monroe
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sisteray wrote:
Denise, you know that this will turn your kids into Satan worshipers, right?


Y'know, Morgan, my mom threw away my D&D stuff TWICE when I was a teenager, and it obviously worked, because I have never worshipped Satan. Of course, I still play D&D...so I suppose that means I could start worshipping Satan at any time!

I've never understood how playing a game where the goal is to KILL devils and demons is going to make kids WORSHIP them. Apparently some kind of uber-Stockholm syndrome is at work here. 'Oh no! A demon is plotting to destroy our village, we have to stop him! Aw, heck with it, let's just sacrifice a few cows to him instead.'
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Chris Tannhauser
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I started playing 3.5 with the kids (two sons, nephew & a neighbor kid) and one of the Bad Uncles a couple of years ago. We got together once a month for an all-nighter of Cheetos, Mountain Dew & the terrors of the tomb. Last year they made the leap to playing by themselves, without adults--making up their own stories and dungeons.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Keep up the good work, Denise!



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John W
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sisteray wrote:
Denise, you know that this will turn your kids into Satan worshipers, right?


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Jay Moore
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Great topic.

I've got an 8-year-old who's crazy about anything fantasy (poor kid, just like his dad) and we've started playing 4e together. We play with two other neighbor kids - a 9 year old and a 10 year old, both girls. They are having a blast. Some tips I've picked up on so far:

- Go with kid-friendly themes. They really like stuff like rescuing an animal that will become their pet, or saving someone from being eaten by kobolds.

- Stick with short sessions. We play 60-90 minutes. It's just enough time to get a little role playing and an encounter in.

- Reward role playing. I am trying to encourage them to get into their roles by giving them bonus XP when they play in character. They like earning XP because it gives them more power, and more dice to roll.

- Make sure every kid gets their moment in the sun. Cheat if you have to so that every character gets a cool moment every session. They're very competitive, and feelings get hurt if one of them thinks s/he can't contribute.

- Just like with adults, remember that telling a good story is the thing. If you have to fudge a roll or allow the party to get away with something that might not work in the real world, but they're having a good time, you can't go wrong. D&D isn't the place to teach Newtonian physics ("Clearly if you leapt off the horse you would break both shins")!
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Morgan Dontanville
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Denise wrote:
sisteray wrote:
Denise, you know that this will turn your kids into Satan worshipers, right?


Y'know, Morgan, my mom threw away my D&D stuff TWICE when I was a teenager, and it obviously worked, because I have never worshipped Satan. Of course, I still play D&D...so I suppose that means I could start worshipping Satan at any time!

I've never understood how playing a game where the goal is to KILL devils and demons is going to make kids WORSHIP them. Apparently some kind of uber-Stockholm syndrome is at work here. 'Oh no! A demon is plotting to destroy our village, we have to stop him! Aw, heck with it, let's just sacrifice a few cows to him instead.'


Especially when you can play a lawful good Paladin that uses the power of prayer to heal people, spread the good word, and wield your sword and shield for the lord against the power of evil.
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Ian Walker
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Now that's a great idea ... I really should start playing D&D with my daughters, I'm sure they'd love it (ages 6 and 10).

Mind you, when I started D&D about 30 years ago (basic set and Greyhawk etc..) the rules were soooo simple by comparison to the later AD&D and (I can only speculate) modern 3E/4E incarnations. In fact, we ended up creating our own custom combat tables that used 1D20 with critical hits (and fumbles) and it worked a treat. Our imagination did most of the work .. magical times and we didn't even have miniatures for the first few years !

To be honest I can't face learning a new incarnation of D&D .. I think I just might dig out my old pre AD&D rules and adventures ... one reference sheet, a piece of graph paper, a few dice rolls and loads of roleplay.

Now I really do sound like an old codger .... (AC10 1D6 hit points, attacks: beer mug & nostalgia laugh )



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The Man Unmasked
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my 7 and 9 year old nieces LOVE 3.5 ed, though they love it more when I use minis. Still, they're more excited about the story than the tactical nature of combat, so I'll stick with 3.5 over 4th ed.
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Rob "Bodhi" Wolff
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I don't have experience teaching the new 4E to kids, but I do have experience teaching the new 4E to non-RPG fans and non-gamers. People who were a little reluctant to give it a chance. I was also a teacher for many years, and did have experience teaching other versions of RPGs to kids.

But teaching 4E recently has been going over like gangbusters, and I can only extrapolate from my experience that it'd be a great rules-set for kids.

In complexity, I would have to say that 4E is a real step towards the "good old days" of AD&D. Things are much simpler now. If you use Power Cards (use Grandpa's Power Cards from Enworld) to track your abilities and feats, you never have to crack a book, and new players can pick up the game in a matter of minutes. (I was so impressed with our experiences with it, I had to post a thread here on the 'geek).

If I was asked to teach a version of D&D to kids again, I'd pick 4E in a second. The new system emphasis an open attitude towards the rules and a real "just say yes to ideas" policy that is extremely old-school, while coupled with some very simple and polished mechanics. Everything resolves using a d20, and most things have been simplified to uniform and comparable mechanics across the board (saving throws are now 50/50, high rolls are always good, all skills and abilities use the same formula to calculate your modifiers, etc.)

While the tactical combat game *can* include many highly finesse-able options, you don't have to include them in your game by any means (and indeed you shouldn't at the beginning). Kids will love the fact that they only have to learn a few mechanics, then look down at the card to see how their special abilities can play out together, and see what their options are.

The fact that non-combat is now completely open-ended again is really a plus in my books. It emphasis roleplaying and storytelling again, instead of skill-playing and meta-gaming. The non-combat stuff is really back to the original AD&D storytelling style, where there aren't chapters and chapters of non-combat tables and charts to follow, making you try to conform your vision to a certain game mechanic. Instead, kids can simply say "I want to try something crazy!", and you tell them "Okay! Go for it!" While the actual player's handbook describes an awful lot of the combat abilities and powers, the reason it is light on the non-combat skills and abilities is simply because they've gone back to the original model -- when you don't need dice, you don't need pages and pages of rules; and if you don't need rules, then whatever you decide is right for you. They give you guidelines to make it work in the DMG, and then set you free to have the fun.

If I had to pick one version that I figured was easiest for kids to pick up, have fun with, learn quickly, explore the idea of roleplaying, and feel that it was *their* ideas that they were exploring (even if sometimes that exploration leads to failure), I'd have to say that 4th edition is probably the rules-set that currently emphasizes these things the most.

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Mike Kozlowski
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To chime in here, my wife and I have been playing 4e with our nine year old. We're playing the Keep on the Shadowfell adventure, and since it's just the three of us, I'm both DMing and playing in the party. Specific things:

1. This is very easy to DM. I've literally never DMed D&D before, and only even played it once, but the adventure is so thorough and info-laden that I rarely even have to pull out the PHB and look something up, and am able to handle the in-town conversation and story stuff pretty well (I think).

2. It is irritating having to page through the PHB to look for details on powers (after a while it's not necessary, because you know what your powers are, but especially at first it's a frequent interruption). Someone upthread mentioned cards; WOTC is going to be releasing official power cards early next year, and I'm absolutely going to buy the relevant sets.

3. The nine-year-old really really loves the maps (included in the module) and minis. I have a bunch of D&D Miniatures and have been able to use them for this, and I think that makes a huge, huge difference to his experience (also, to be honest, mine: A bunch of d6s make functional kobolds, but a bunch of kobold minis are way cooler). You can pick up the common ones for pretty cheap, and it's worth doing that, I think. At the very least, having minis for your PCs is a nice plus.

3a. A bunch of the dungeon areas don't have pre-printed maps, and I guess most people use whiteboard-erasable battlemats; I've been using Dungeon Tiles. Again, I think this is the sort of thing that makes an especially big difference for kids. Atmospherics matter. (And yeah, I know I sound like I'm trying to sell official D&D-brand accessories, but I really do think that sort of fluff is even more important to kids than adults.)

4. He really really loves all the powers that 4e characters have. Daily powers that do triple damage or that attack a handful of enemies surrounding him really make him feel heroic and powerful, and make combat choices more interesting to him.

5. We'd played Descent: RtL once before, and he vastly prefers this, because it's cooperative instead of competitive, and has rules that are a lot simpler (or at least clearer -- a lot less fumbling through the rulebook here), plus more variety of gameplay. His sentiments are shared by my wife and I.

6. Most importantly, he just loves playing this with us, and begs us to play more. Huge hit.

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Barak Engel
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Well...

I just ran a role playing group for three kids this summer: my 6 yo son, his 7 yo "girlfriend", and her 9 yo cousin. It was a smashing success, but we didn't use D&D, we used a system that seems to have been designed specifically for kids. It's called Faery's Tale, you can buy the rulebook for $10 online and print your own copy, and it's quite a wonderful way to introduce kids to the hobby.

What I particularly liked was seeing how the younger kids were able to "get into" their characters and literally improv the heck out of them. The girl would go and hide when her fairy became invisible, my son wielded his imaginary knitting needle made into a sword with relish, and even the 9 year old got into the acting at some point.

I think its a great introductory system that is more than worth the price of admission, and may be a lot easier to handle to begin with.
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Nikki Ebright
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Wow. Wow. Wow. This has been quite the response. I somehow thought I was the only one interested in getting my kids involved, so this is pretty cool!

I think I should possibly go with a little background. My dad played D&D with his friends in the '70's and I would watch. On rare occasion, they let me join in, but I wasn't a part of the ongoing campaigns.

Fast forward to my early college days ('89, '90) when I fell into a group of guys who had been friends in high school and had been playing. I joined in and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, as time went on, we all went various directions (myself included) and I lost my D&D connections. I was too busy to find or start anything, so I really haven't played since then. So I'm guessing that was AD&D, because that sounds familiar.

So recently I fell into a group that plays boardgames (it went from a Doctor Who meetup to a boardgame meetup to a yahoo group who posts the game sessions here). I've been dragging the kids along (kicking and screaming, oh ya) and they're starting to get into things.

Now the 9 year old, he's really into video games. Has been since he was about 4 I'd say. He and I play video games together a lot. My 13 year old is very intelligent, but she doesn't get mentally challenged as much as she needs, so I'm thinking the games are good for her, and she enjoys them so far. She joins in a lot; the 9 year old does his own thing more often.

Game history-wise, we were introduced to Munchkin Fu at one of our early outings, and both kids thought this was great. Since then we have also bought Munchkin (not as fun), Star Munchkin (pretty fun) and Ticket to Ride (and the 1910 expansion). The 9 year old and I have played Ticket to Ride a lot, and now he's bored with it. I'm still working on teaching the 13 year old some strategies so she can beat the grownups.

So somehow the 9 year old has decided that he wants to try D&D. It could have come from me explaining Munchkin and where a lot of the jokes came from.

Anyway, I guess what I'm looking for is something where the kids could try it out, but where I haven't got a lot of time or money invested in case this turns out to be a short-term interest. I have also never run a D&D game, so I need to go with something that makes sense without weeks of studying, although I do like learning new things.

In terms of supplies, we're pretty close to starting from scratch. I have some d10's that I bought for using with the Munchkin games, and we have a number of d6's around (again, Munchkin, as well as Risk, probably others). I don't mind buying a few things, but I don't really want to have to lay down $20 for dice, as fun as that may be. The dice I had from my playing days are buried in a box somewhere.

So in reading Denise's post, I was convinced that 3.5 is the way to go. Cheap, simple, straightforward sounding. When my 9 year old plays games (like Zelda, for example), he races thru the game to get to the end. I go back and do all the side adventures for the bonuses. I don't think I want to get into minis, but I've never used minis, so I have really no idea about that actually. Patience isn't something that he has a lot of in great supply, lol. I think my 13 year old will be more into the role playing and creativity of it, but both of my kids are pretty creative and do a lot of "imagine I this and you that".

I've been involved with kids in Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, coaching soccer and baseball, so I'm pretty on board with letting them do their thing and gently guiding them one way or another. I like the poisoned ogre ale story! Exactly the thing I'd want to watch the kids do, because they can learn a lot. I guess one thing I'm hoping the kids will get out of this is the ability to work well with others. I do plan on inviting a few other kids to join us, but I don't know exaclty who yet. I also was thinking of trying one-day campaigns, rather than ongoing, to get us started.

Then reading some of the other posts, I'm thinking maybe the 4th edition is more straighforward for me as a new DM and the kids being new to D&D. So now I'm confused, lol. I liked a lot of comments that Jay made too. Um, for some of the other comments, sorry, I actually didn't quite follow (I don't speak old D&D apparently).

I guess it looks like 4th ed might be a good route, but might cost me quite a bit to get what I want, while 3.5 might require a little creativity on my part, but will be about dirt cheap.

Think I'm about on track there?

I am SO lovin' BGG right now!
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Alan Reeve
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MoonSylver wrote:
For those looking to start D&D w/ kids who are overwhelmed w/ the various editions & complexity of rules allow me to suggest an alternative:

For me the best & simplest version was the (so-called) "Basic" & Expert versions from the early 80's by Tom Moldvay. Simple, easy & good for kids but not dumbed down & very open ended & good for creative story telling.

Apparently I'm not the only one who loves it. I'm just discovering there is a so-call "retro clone" movement out there dedicated to bringing older editions back into print under the OGL so that new material can be published. The best Basic/Expert I've seen is Labyrinth Lord, which combines all the basic & expert rules into one volume, expanding them very slightly.

You get all the monsters, spells, everything you need in one book. Best of all the PDF of it is available for FREE, so you can check it out & see how well edited & presented it is (very nice, & well reviewed as well). If you decide you want a hard copy you can purchase one for $17-$27 for soft/hardcover.

So even if you buy the hardcover you have everything you need in one book (only 132 pages at that!) & for under $30!

Check it out here: http://www.goblinoidgames.com/labyrinthlord.htm
---MS


Never heard of this... will have to check it out.

I'll also throw out Dark City Games' Legends system which is a remake of The Fantasy Trip... an insanely simple system from the early 80s. They have some freebie starter stuff including two solo adventures at http://www.darkcitygames.com/. They also have sci-fi and wild west versions and it would seem easy enough to play with kids.
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Rob "Bodhi" Wolff
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Lil Red Head wrote:
(snip)

I guess it looks like 4th ed might be a good route, but might cost me quite a bit to get what I want, while 3.5 might require a little creativity on my part, but will be about dirt cheap.



Actually, getting into 4E is only as expensive as you want it to be.

To get the rules, you can either ...

a) buy the Keep on the Shadowfell introductory module, and see if you like the system. It has a limited set of Powers used only for the pre-generated characters on that module.

b) buy a boxed set of rulebooks from someplace like Amazon.com. The boxed set costs about $66, true, so that would be a fairly pricey investment. I have friends who have .pdf versions on their computers. Who knows how they got such things? Certainly not through any torrent site ...

c) Contact Paper from your local stationary or office supply store is your friend. You can use it to cover foamcore, old cardboard, large paper rectangles, etc., and turn them into wet-erase surfaces. You can make battle grids, initiative markers, miniatures tokens, and all sorts of things out of about $10 worth of foamcore, cardstock, and some contact paper. If you're willing to *also* take the time to use a printer and a computer, you can make amazing quality printed miniatures tokens, character sheets, maps, etc. and cover them with contact paper.

d) Power Cards. Can't say enough about 'em. Grandpa's Power Cards, on EnWorld, are just the most amazingly cool gaming aid for 4E. Can't imagine gaming without 'em. Cardsleeves cost a buck a pack, but well worth it.

You don't have to buy miniatures (printed miniatures tokens glued on foamcore are actually really cool to play with). You don't have to buy battle grids. You don't have to buy anything. Make 'em yourself.

Push comes to shove, you write "kobold" on little pieces of paper and shove 'em around. It works, and you get that satisfying action of smushing up the miniature when it is dead!

The RPG community puts out better quality artwork, better-designed player aids, and better functioning gaming doohickies than the professional stuff you pay money for. As an example, I have found better-designed DM Screens (which don't require erratta!) available for free all over the 'net.

Then again ... I *did* just go out and buy a bunch of miniatures, 'cause I decided to upgrade the look and feel of things.

But they are a luxury. A total luxury.
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Darrell Pavitt
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Denise wrote:
sisteray wrote:
Denise, you know that this will turn your kids into Satan worshipers, right?

..
'Oh no! A demon is plotting to destroy our village, we have to stop him! Aw, heck with it, let's just sacrifice a few cows to him instead.'


Ah, you've met my players then.
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Denise Patterson-Monroe
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Yay, Nikki, so glad we got you hooked in here! Thanks for showing up!

Y'know, honestly, at this point, I'm hearing so many people singing the praises of 4E (especially Rob 'Bodhi' Wolff, thanks Rob!), that I'm gonna have to give it another go. My husband got the core books from the library (another option to look into if you just want to try things out for cheap) and is going to set up some combat simulations for me & my daughter to try this weekend - I'll post and let everyone know how that goes!

Rob, a question - do you really think Keep on the Shadowfell is playable without having any of the other books to get started? If so, that's definitely a cheap option to get started, it's only $20 on Amazon.
 
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Denise Patterson-Monroe
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Oh, and Nikki, you should be able to find dice WAY cheaper than $20! You can get a set of dice for $3.50 at my local game store, or individual dice for 50 cents each. If you can't find any locally, PM me and I'll send you some, really, they are THAT cheap!

Faery's Tale is also fun, I ran that as a LARP for kids in our homeschool group last year - good times!!

As far as cheap minis, my husband just had the idea of cannibalizing games we have around here. We can take some player figures out of Runebound or Battlelore and monsters out of Battlelore or even just use generic meeples for most monsters. Say we are up against 3 orcs and a kobold dragonshield - use 3 red meeples for the orcs and 1 purple meeple for the kobold. That's not QUITE as visually cool as having figures for each monster, but when you are on a budget, meeples are still cooler than paper bits!
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Mike Kozlowski
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I, uh, guess I had a lot of geekgold?
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Denise wrote:
Rob, a question - do you really think Keep on the Shadowfell is playable without having any of the other books to get started? If so, that's definitely a cheap option to get started, it's only $20 on Amazon.


I'm not Rob, but it absolutely is. It has a section of quick rules that explain the basic principles of the rules and some reasonably detailed combat explanations. It includes pre-gen characters to use (which obviates the need for 90% of the PHB). It includes enough DM guidance to make sure a DM knows what to do without needing the DMG. And all the monsters have full stat blocks, so there's no need for the MM.

And it includes a handful of battle maps, so all you need to add is dice and some minis (and as others note, you really can pull them from BattleLore or War of the Ring, or really just about any game that has distinctive tokens if you just want functionality; I recommended the D&D Minis because they're cool, but they're not necessary if you're on a budget).
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Hilary Hartman
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Just your friendly, neighborhood game player and superhero!
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Denise wrote:
Rob, a question - do you really think Keep on the Shadowfell is playable without having any of the other books to get started? If so, that's definitely a cheap option to get started, it's only $20 on Amazon.


Denise, after the discussion I started here about 4E I picked up Shadowfell. After having read through the adventure, I can tell you that you do not need any of the 4E Core books to play through it. There's enough information contained in the adventure and accompanying "Quick Start" manual to get you through the game. I paid $30 and would say $20 is a much better deal.

Good luck.

Hilary
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Bobb Beauchamp
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Paizo publishing is still offering their beta version of the Pathfinder rules, which are an updated version of the 3.5 rules. The .pdf is still free, and the print version is about the same or maybe a bit more than you'd pay for a used 3.5 Players Hand Book. Pathfinder has all the rules for the races, classes, spell, skills, feats, and combat that you need, plus basic equipment. They also have a free module for first level Characters, Hollow's Last Hope.

So, if you really want to just have a low-cost entry to try things out, you can get the .pdf Pathfinder rules for free, and also the first adventure module for free. Your costs will be limited to whatever you decide to print out, which is probably recommended unless you've got a laptop handy.

Bear in mind the core of the Pathfinder system is still 3.5 D&D. One of the big appeals of 4e is that it boils down a characters abilities pretty much into a series of powers that can easily be placed on cards that the player can have with their character sheet to give them easy reminders of what they can do in combat. It also gives every class a defined role in combat. But you could just as easily create cards for the skills and feats of 3.5e/Pathfinder that do the same thing.

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