View Full Version : 4E D&D for young children

2013-07-30, 11:54 AM
Hi, everyone.

I'm an unrepentant gamer as well as the father of a six-year-old girl. I've had friends over to play tabletop games, D&D, and so on, for years. A few months ago, my daughter asked if she could play D&D with me. I thought it over, and decided I could make it work. This may sound familiar to some of you - part of my inspiration came from another poster in GitP who did the same thing.

While I mainly want to do this to have fun with her, a lot of my reasoning comes from the belief that a lot of my mathematical ability actually comes from repetitive basic math involved in tabletop games. Even determining a hit or miss involves adding two numbers and comparing to a target number. This makes a 4E tabletop game very ideal for mastering early grade school math. At the same time, adding hundreds and thousands of gold, XP, and so on would certainly be a bit overwhelming. This leads me to the customized 4E which I'm posting about.

For starters, AC, HP, NADs are all kept hidden from the player. Whenever the player tries anything, just give the target number, which you calculate yourself. For older players, give them their bonus for a skill or attack and allow them to add it.

Experience awards and requirement for level are divided by 50. This means that a PC needs 20XP to reach level 2. We use glass beads on a grid to track her total. Once or twice each session, I'll ask her how many she has, and how many she needs to get to the next level. When she works through it, I award her another experience bead.

Gold is also tracked with (different colored) beads. Each bead represents 10gp. When counting these, she counts up by 10 for each one to determine her total. She also needs to budget these to buy healing potions, pay her tuition for Hero School, and so on.

Lastly, Hit Points are divided by 5, both for her and for NPCs and monsters. She doesn't roll for damage -- she just does 2 per hit (her average damage is around 10), or 4 on a natural 20. Most monsters also do 2 per hit.

As a general rule, there is one melee fight per session. The games are designed more for drama and for skill challenges. Also, her enemies are rarely intelligent creatures. When they are, she is encouraged to exercise diplomacy to resolve problems.

I'd encourage other parents to try this with children 5 and up. Removing a lot -- but not all -- of the math, makes this game far more accessible, and can be a lot of fun.

Edit: One final note about actions -- I've also hidden Minor Actions from my daughter. She moves and attacks once each round. I let her know when she can do other things as well.

2013-07-30, 12:53 PM
I wonder if we can do better than "hide the math", but make a 4e esque game workable for a 5 year old player.

Keeping numbers low is important. I like the idea of 20 XP for a level, flat.

We could replace the d20 with something smaller, so each "noted feature" has a larger impact. Have a fixed success target number, with a "adjectives" that determine if you are better off or worse.

Lets go with a d6, because cubes rock.

A success is a 5 or a 6. If you have an advantage, you roll two dice and take the better result. If you have a disadvantage, you roll two dice and take the worst.

You get a crit if you succeed with doubles with advantage. Crits grant advantage on the attack.

When you hit, you roll 1d6 for damage.

Second Wind can be done once per encounter. You recover 1/2 your maximum HP at the cost of a healing surge. It requires sacrificing your move action.

Fighters are weaponmasters, and have advantage on all melee attacks.

Fighters can parry, which means enemies in melee with them have disadvantage on their melee attacks (against the Fighter or against a Fighter's allies). They can do this once per turn.

Fighters are tough and have armor, which means enemies have disadvantage on their damage rolls.

An enemy has to spend an attack to safely disengage from a Fighter, otherwise the Fighter gets a free swing.

Fighters have 10 hit points and 5 healing surges.

When a Fighter crits, they can move the enemy 1 square and move as well or knock the target prone.


Rogues have advantage when an ally is adjacent to an enemy, or if they are hidden from that enemy.

Rogues can Trick a given foe once per combat. This grants them advantage on their attack. Anyone who has seen the Rogue do a Trick cannot be tricked by the same Trick.

Rogues have advantage on damage when they have advantage on the attack.

Rogues can dodge, giving disadvantage to an enemies attack once per turn.

Rogues can hide if they break line of sight with a foe.

Rogues can tumble, imposing disadvantage on all out of turn attacks on the Rogue.

Rogues who crit can roll 3 dice for damage, taking the best result.

Rogues who crit on a damage roll can KO the target or otherwise subdue them.

Rogues have 8 hit points and 3 healing surges.





2013-07-30, 01:13 PM
You might like this (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IRPSrd2FjE9_WjxpxHCGbatgxXZqLyWTtjXilWizDQw/edit) better for starting her out. She can understand all the rules, it uses d6's, it's a lot simpler, and it just runs smoother. I designed it as a party-friendly, incredibly rules-light RPG.

I applaud your efforts to create new gamers for future generations. As a game designer and married man I look forward to rolling up a few of my own gamers as soon as my wife and I are ready.

2013-07-30, 03:32 PM
Microlite20 is my personal recommendation.