If I were to write an FAQ right now the first answered question I’d put on it would be “what are some good options for introducing my children to role-playing?” It’s a great question and it’s one I never tire of answering. For this entry I will concentrate on only one of many possibilities of role-playing with kids.
Several years ago I finished up my MBA. As graduation approached I realized how much time I hadn’t been spending with my family and I committed myself to something that could get us all sitting together for some (analog) face time. I thought of how fondly I looked back on playing D&D in my childhood with my brothers and friends and decided it was time to throw myself back into it.
I grew up on AD&D (mostly second edition) and I dabbled a bit in 3.0 prior joining the Army and then a smidgen of 3.5 during/after the Army. But not much. I’d heard about how bad 4th edition was (for some) so I never got into that. Now I had a choice to make. Do I really want to try to teach my kids the crunchy AD&D style that I loved or go with one of the later versions. I committed to teaching them 3.5. But I knew it was a lot to expect kids under 10 to grasp the system. What now?
Enter, Heroes of Hesiod!
Hereos of Hesiod
I admit that I cannot recall how I stumbled across the Heroes of Hesiod but I suspect it involved Googling “role-playing with kids” and “d&d”. I am so glad I found this article by Susan J. Morris called “D&D for Kids”. The article is a good and short read. But the jewel of it, for me, was an external link. That’s when I found Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod on Wizards of the Coast’s website. I had my hook!
This was perfect. It’s an extremely simplified version of D&D that fulfilled my main need: role-playing with kids. You didn’t need to spend 30 minutes filling out a character sheet or developing a backstory. Heroes of Hesiod comes with 5 pre-generated characters. No one needed to explain (or buy) any funky shaped dice. You could get by with 1 standard 6-sided cube (1d6) but having 3 would be ideal. The mechanics were simplified, but they were there. The players would get to experience a bullette, a pixie swarm, and even a beholder. And, of course, there has to be a red dragon, right?
Role-Playing with Kids
My kids all decided on which characters they’d like to play and we got down to it. They got to learn about moving, attacking, and defending. They also got an understanding of hit points, armor class, and what in the world a dungeon master was. But most importantly, they got to step inside the shoes of a fictitious hero and role-play. They had a compelling reason to put down their Nintendos and Kindles.
If your kids are anything like mine they spend far too much time staring at one screen or another. It’s not enough for me to simply tell them to stop. My kids are well-behaved—as much as anyone’s, I guess—but if I provide an alternative activity with the command of putting away their screens they’re much more agreeable. I admit that role-playing with kids is not the only way to get kids to find other things to do. But you could do much worse.
I’m happy I introduced my kids to the hobby. In the years that have passed we have moved on Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (and had another child). Our oldest son plays a sorcerer and our daughter usually plays a cleric. She recently created a warlock after listening to the Tavern of Heroes podcast by Michael and Stephen Stagliano. Our other son plays as a ranger and he really puts the role-playing in RPG. Our youngest, at 3, shows interest in playing but for now he’s content to just chuck dice on “his turn”.
If you’re looking for a way to get your kids into D&D this is a great place to start. I guarantee that the rules won’t get in the way of a good time. Happy gaming!