Last night my wife and I watch my little niece and nephew (ages 11 and 8, respectively), and I busted out the Labyrinth Lord game in place of the Star Wars (Episode 1) Monopoly set we had planned to play.
You see, I've played a couple games of "D&D Lite" with these two in the past, and for the past several months, my nephew has really been hankerin' to play, reminding me every time he and his parents come to visit. We just never could find the right time for a quick game.
Recently, I thought about those past games we played using extremely simplified and watered-down rules. Both my niece and nephew had a blast. However, I began playing D&D around my nephew's age, and the older guys I played with definitely did not water down the rules. In fact, since I was the tag-along young kid in the group, I believe they purposely did not pull any punches, hoping for my character's quick demise and sending my annoying little butt home.
Although I did not plan to build up a cruel death dealing dungeon for the kids to lose their characters, but I did want to start playing the game a bit more closer to the actual rules.
The simplified version went something like this:
You could be a Knight or a Wizard.
No abilities, XP, or Armor Class.
You have eight Hit Points.
For everything (attacks, spells, stealing, saving throws, whatever), a 10 and over on the d20 is a success (or a 9 and over with a +1 weapon).
Every time you're hit, you lose one hit point. At the end of the encounter, hit points are regained.
Of course, as you can tell, there are no rules for a character to become stronger and more powerful via level advancement, but it wasn't my intention. I just wanted a "beginners" gateway RPG for the kids, offering them a basic understanding on how to play. Just a quick story hook, kill some monsters, and find the treasure.
And it worked! Like I said, they had a blast. So now that they have a basic knowledge on how to play an RPG, I wanted our next game to adhere a little closer to the rule set.
So last night, out came the Labyrinth Lord book and my quick Monty Haul adventure Treasure Crypt of the Salstine Pirate. My niece played a thief, my nephew played a magic-user, and we rounded out the party with a cleric and fighter NPCs.
I will admit to watering down a few details (including the monsters), but not by much. They survived and had so much fun that my nephew wanted to go home and download the Labyrinth Lord game right away. My niece had fun, but she is the type that goes with the flow, is up to play any game, but not one to pursue a die-hard interest in RPGs (I'll continue to work on that!). She does, however, at age 11, play a mean clarinet.
Before my nephew left with his parents, I told him to wait for a minute as I dug into my dice bag. I sorted out a mismatched set of old and new poly dice, put them into a zipped baggie and handed it to him. As gamers, we all remember our first set of polyhedron dice, and my hope is that he will, too.
Our next game will be the Tomb of Horrors. ;P