I've been attempting to play 4E with my two kids for a while now. I've had some false starts trying to run very simple adventures partly due to lack of DM experience/prep time (demanding job for Dad) and partly due to complexity of the game mechanics. I have a bunch of books (both essentials and core) and really enjoy the 4e game setting/mechanics from an armchair perspective and as I've made some investment I'd like to reuse what I have. It's just that in practice of trying to DM and teach the kids what to do it's always felt overwhelming. What approaches or fixes exist within 4e to simply the game as we learn it together?
I started with the Red box starter set but the way the starter set works in terms of character creation, DM'ing, etc. felt difficult to use as a teaching tool for the kids as the idea of creating your character as you move was foreign to me and seemed to really disrupt the initial play in my experience. Being a completely newbie DM and player (I played AD&D maybe 3 or 4 times when I was 12 or so) I'm wondering if there's not a better way to get things off the ground in terms of d20 games in general. I've tried a couple things to ease us all into this world such as playing Wrath of Ashardalon which while it taught a couple of things about mechanics like rolling d20's it was utterly boring for everyone involved. For the holidays we started playing Dungeon command now (partly because I wanted to have some painted minis) and while we enjoy it as a game, the lack of roleplaying, dice, etc limits it's attraction as at the end of the day it's card based board game although it does an do a decent job of teaching the minor, standard, move action sequence during combat but the lack of dice limits what they're learning.
My kids are 7 and 10. One big thing for me is being able to move the game forward without the constant nagging feeling that I forgot some of the mechanics (combat advantage, flanking, attacks of opportunity, etc,etc). I realize I could just ignore those aspects of the game and roll my own rules but I feel I'm better served learning the rules and then bending them as needed. At this point during the times we've played we've all felt overwhelmed with remembering everything that it causes the game to crawl and becomes a constant "let me look at the rules" instead of enjoying the role playing parts of the game. One thing to note is we all like the rules concepts it's just putting them all together at once for 3 newb's that's causing problems :)
1) I read a lot of reviews of the Pathfinder beginner box set and across the board it's described as an excellent intro to RPG's, d20, DM'ing and D&D in general. I can't seem to find any bad reviews of it. So one thought I had was maybe buy the beginners box to teach my kids the mechanics of d20 without the complexities of combat advantage, attacks of opportunity, etc which I from what I read are not part of the beginners box rule set and then once they're comfortable switch to 4e since I have a lot of the material already to play 4e. Is it a bad idea to start in pathfinder and move to 4e afterward? Would me as DM learning Pathfinder rules and the kids learning as players cause a huge upheaval moving to full blown 4e?
2) Should I completely retry my attempt at using the beginners box with another adventure? I played the intro one with my kids and also tried playing the continuation that comes with it so I would need some adventure to plug in there. My concern with the starter set from WoTC is that it's just too different. It didn't feel like a rules light version to me, it felt like a rules different version. But maybe i should give it another try.
Anyway any advice on direction with this would be greatly appreciated. My kids really really want to play the roleplaying game as the little bits of that we played they loved (my 7 year old said "it feels like we're in a movie" after our second attempt which is a good sign).