Finding our way to D&D

I’ve been playing a board game version of Dungeons and Dragons with my eldest son recently and we are having a lot of fun with it. The game is Dungeons and Dragons, the Temple of Elemental Evil (Adventure System Game) from Wizkids.

Admittedly I have dialed the difficulty back a bit so that he can enjoy the adventure aspect of the game without being frustrated by the mechanics. Nonetheless we are having a lot of fun with it.

It has me planning to run some full-fledged Dungeons & Dragons down the line, when we finish the board game. So I have started planning what adventures I can run for my son and I to play. There are a few things I find, from my own experiences, of running games for kids.

  1. Attention span can be limited and/or time is a finite resource.
  2. Items that help memory are a big help.
  3. Visual aids are really helpful.

I’ll explore each here.

Keep the games short but frequent

It can be difficult for younger kids to focus on something for a long period of time. There are all sorts of things than can have a bearing on this, maybe they are a tired at the end of the week or maybe they are distracted by other activities at a given time. That’s just how kids operate. Keeping each ‘game session’ short – between 30 mins and 1 hour (max) helps to keep things moving and get some game time in without being too taxing or demanding on them.

Game aids are optional but helpful

Things like spell cards or magic item cards can really help. They put the rules you need in front of you now. Even older gamers find them useful, but for younger kids they can be a godsend allowing them to focus on their different abilities and items and make decisions on which to use at a given time.

Kids really engage with visual aids

While lots of people will happily play Dungeons & Dragons using the theater of the mind technique, again this can be a little bit hard for kids to follow. There are lots of options for props, maps, and miniatures that can be used. If you are doing this then you do need to plan ahead to really keep the cost manageable. This means deciding how far you will go with this. I’ll detail my approach in a later post and show some options that people can consider.

Putting these together I am planning to use the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials kit. This has a sort of sandbox approach to adventures for the players by using a ‘Quest board’ in the town. The players can pick which encounter to go for. The early encounters in particular are all fairly quick and straightforward quests allowing the players to get the feel of the game and learn their abilities. The challenges can be dealt with through combat or more inventive methods.

Looking forward to trying these out in the months ahead. But first we have the Temple of Elemental Evil to complete …

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