Tabletop Games for Children

27 Mar

So it’s been… Not quite a year since I posted, but close. What can I say? I got myself on a roll of a post or more every week, and then things changed. I got a full time job. Then another one. I had a baby. Did you know how much writing time having a baby cuts into? Apparently, holding a screaming, puking hobgoblin in one arm while trying to type with the other does not lend itself well to productivity.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my screaming hobgoblin. But maybe it means I’ll come back to blogging with a more manageable schedule than a board game review and RPG idea post every single week.

Actually, it was little Hob (that’s what I’m going to call him now) that made me want to come back to this blog. See, I want to be able to play games with my son when he’s old enough not understand that dice aren’t candy. But, while I love Pathfinder and such, many of them are not really geared towards younger children. Lots of them are pretty rules intensive and, even when you can simplify them, reward an in-depth approach to the material that a casual or young player may just never have.

Once I started thinking about the difficulty that younger kids might have with tabletop RPGs, I realized something else. Think about how games like D&D are always shown on television—as if your characters can be anything or do anything your imagination can create. It’s a nice idea. But how does D&D actually go? Your character can be or do anything you can imagine… So long as you imagine something taken from this list of pre-described possibilities. Magic systems are a real solid example this. You have your fireball, your lightning bolts… But what if you want to shoot a line of cold, instead of electricity? Make an explosion of acid instead of fire? What if you want to summon the powers of sparkles and love in a glittery shower of doom? Sure, you can homebrew small changes, but things like specific elemental weaknesses and limits to areas of spells are so entwined with the rules that it’s hard to do so without far more side effects than you expect.

So I started looking for a system that would better fit what I want from a kid-friendly tabletop. I wanted something simple, and I wanted something customizable to the max. I want a system where Hob can play a grizzled human fighter, wading into battle with a greatsword if he wants to… Or he can be a goblin riding a dolphin with laser eyes, wielding a three-bladed lightsaber. I want a game that I can explain in ten minutes, and can be fun and new every time. And I wanted a game with as much story as I could get.

Apparently, I wanted a game that didn’t exist.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of tabletop games that are either aimed at children or will work for children. Fate Core has the customization I want. Dungeon World has the story driven idea I like. Even Wizards of the Coast got into it, publishing D&D for Kids. None of these systems were exactly what I wanted, though. The simple ones weren’t customizable. The customizable ones weren’t simple. They just didn’t click with me.

So I’m making my own.

My next few posts are going to be about my attempt at creating my own tabletop game. I’ve played with designing board games before (and, if this generates interest, maybe I’ll talk about them in the future), but never something like this. I’d love some feedback on it as I post.

In the meantime, have you ever tried RPGs with kids? What worked, what didn’t? What kind of systems do you like best? Am I crazy for trying to make a new one? Let me know what you think in the comments.

1 Comment

Posted by on March 27, 2018 in Homebrews, Role-Playing Games


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One response to “Tabletop Games for Children

  1. dmdungeon

    March 27, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Reblogged this on DM Dungeon and commented:
    Great article on what could be a missing market. Having had small children, I played a really toned down version of D&D. Almost took it right back to basic. You could an Elf/Dwarf/Hobbit/Wizard/Warrior style.

    We did played a lot of Dungeon the Board game. It’s a great starter for younger kids.

    There might be a market to create something that would appeal to our younger crowd.



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