47
\$\begingroup\$

I've been asked to run an adventure for my girlfriend and daughter (7).

What's the least complicated class she could easily get to grips with?

Is there a generally considered easy starter class?

  • Not too complex abilities/trigger
  • Not too specialised - or she'll get bored with only 1 trick

She's still learning to read, and the explanations can be a bit too much for her, so I'm expecting to have to shorten them down. But I think that with her imagination, she'd really enjoy the game and it could encourage the reading.

Mum will obviously be there to help, so I'm wondering if it would help her to be the same class, and therefore having less to remember herself...

\$\endgroup\$
27
\$\begingroup\$

Find a D&D-esque Game Designed for Kids

I have zero experience with "real" D&D (or any tabletop RPG) but I like what little I know about it and have recently been more interested in playing. In addition, I wanted to get my own kids involved in the hopes that starting early would let them grow up playing something I missed out on at that age. Starting from scratch, I googled "D&D for kids" and found several options. Most of them seemed designed to give the feel without getting too involved in detailed mechanics. Not knowing where to start, I went with what was - for me - the very first result.

  1. Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod

    • Designed for kids 6+
    • Contains all the rules for DM and players
    • PDF includes player tokens, map, character sheets, and monsters (also badges to hand out to the players if/when they win)
    • I took the time to cut out and "laminate" (with packing tape) all the pieces to keep them from being destroyed, but you could just reprint if you want to play again
    • Each PC has a little different setup but it's really 3 things to keep track of and I, as the DM, helped the kids remember when to roll and what it did
  2. Monster Slayers: The Champions of the Elements

    • Made by the same person/group as the previous so the setup is much the same
    • Essentially a sequel to the previous in that the characters are the same but it's more developed with more intricate monsters, nicer map, etc.
    • If you play Heroes of Hesiod first, this one will be very familiar.

We played through both those "campaigns" in that order. For Heroes, I was the DM, my 7 & 5 year old were players, and my 3 year old helped me DM (they picked which player to attack next). To help it be a little more fair fight, I gave both players two characters to choose. We would pull out whichever character was next and they could read the sheet to know their options. For Champions, we invited over another 7 year old and their parent. This time, each player only got one character since we doubled our players.

At the start of the first game, nobody at the table had ever played any tabletop RPGs. By the end of the second game, the kids were drawing their own character sheets and adding ludicrously over-sized weapons to their depictions. I have all the pieces saved and will be playing both a few more times this summer until they get used to it and then we'll look for something more complicated.


This is all anecdotal so my experience will likely not translate into your experience. However, I was completely ignorant and able to get all the kids laughing in glee as they vanquished each monster. I hope you get the same experience.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a very good "experience based" answer, a kind that we like a lot when it is backed up by actual play experience. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 15 '18 at 20:34
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ While not directly answering my question, this is the most likely route I will take. We'll have a go at monster slayers and if it goes well, she can graduate to D&D later down the line! \$\endgroup\$ – ErosRising May 16 '18 at 11:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ My kids are too small to introduce them to gaming :(, but when they are older I think I will start with these, so +1. \$\endgroup\$ – RonV May 16 '18 at 17:52
71
\$\begingroup\$

The Fighter is a simple, easy to play class

The Fighter is traditionally the simplest class available in D&D, which holds true in 5th edition. It is generally well suited to new players as it's tough and survivable, and it rewards a simple playstyle of the "go over there and hit that thing!" variety.

Compared to other classes, it has only a few expendable class features that need to be kept track of (Second Wind, Action Surge and eventually Indomitable - all of which are themselves pretty simple abilities), no abilities that temporarily/dynamically adjust other stats/bonuses, and no complex conditional abilities to keep in mind. Though there are still choices to make as a Fighter, they tend to be about tactical positioning and how to prioritise targets as opposed to trying to parse your long list of class features/spells and evaluate which one you want to use, which you understandably want to avoid for a new player - especially a very young one who may have difficulty understanding all those options.

The choice of martial archetype at 3rd level can make the class more complicated, but the Champion archetype is the simplest of the available options, as it grants a handful of passive, always-on benefits in the same vein as the basic class features. The other archetypes available in the core - Eldritch Knight and Battlemaster - introduce spells and manoeuvres to the class. They might be interesting to look at if your daughter turns out to be unexpectedly adept at understanding the game and you think she can handle a bit more complexity, but the Champion is always there to keep it simple if required.

Are you sure you want to play D&D though

Stepping back a bit, though, I would advise you and your girlfriend to consider whether or not D&D is the best first RPG for a seven-year-old. Though D&D is very popular, and it's undoubtedly the first RPG that lots of people end up playing, they do tend to get into the hobby at a later age; D&D is relatively complicated as roleplaying games go. There are other, simpler games, including games aimed at children of her age, which you could search for and start to play with instead. If the goal is to get her interested in the hobby she's less likely to bounce off such games and get put off than if she tries and fails to understand the complexities of D&D.

That's not to say that D&D is an impossible starter game for a young child, and I'm sure there are many players who started at a similarly young age and had a great time. If you do want to stick with D&D, I would probably advise that you simplify it a lot; abstract away the details, handle the game mechanics behind the scenes, and introduce concepts slowly. It's not important that she knows that she's a first level fighter with a +2 proficiency bonus off the bat; you could simply give her a sheet that says she's got 13 HP and a +4 bonus to hitting things with swords, and teach her the core mechanics before revealing more complex concepts and explaining how those details are derived.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 35
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for frame challenge: Why D&D? There are lots of simpler games to be found by googling, e.g., "Rules-light RPGs," many of which have more emphasis on the story than on crunchy, hard-to-manage (for a seven year old) mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak May 12 '18 at 15:55
  • 38
    \$\begingroup\$ If this site says anything it's that these mechanics are hard to manage for all age groups. \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 12 '18 at 16:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If the DM has a good grasp on the rules, it should still be pretty easy for a child. As a player, one shouldn't really be referencing rules and mechanics anyway, the kid can just tell the DM, "I want to go over and hit that guy", and it can be up to the DM to call for attack and damage rolls and the like. \$\endgroup\$ – Shufflepants May 14 '18 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ My reasoning for sticking with D&D is that it's a system I (think I) understand, and could simplify mechanics-wise; as @shufflepants implies, I won't expect her to memorise all the rules etc.. My "adult" players still rely on me for that... But I envisage that once she's got the general hang of it, she'll want to learn more and eventually graduate to the "grown-up table" \$\endgroup\$ – ErosRising May 15 '18 at 12:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ErosRising that makes sense, and if you're comfortable enough in your mastery of the system that you think you can readily run a simplified version to introduce her to the concepts, there's nothing stopping you. FWIW, I wouldn't let aversion to learning a new system stop you from trying an alternative - rules-light games are designed to be very quick and easy to pick up so it's not like you'd be investing anywhere near the same effort you've put into learning D&D (and in general, it's good to try out other games from time to time - you never know, you might find one you enjoy more than D&D!) \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer May 15 '18 at 13:29
42
\$\begingroup\$

You don't even need to give her a class to play. Consider giving her this as a sheet:

Princess daughter Age 7
HP 30. Ac 15
Sword d20, 1d8
Bow d20, 1d6

And that's it. You could include a line for skills like

Charm +5, Climbing +4 , Sneaking +2

Most classes at level 1 are simple enough to play, but a one that hits things are normally the easiest.
While a barbarian, being a one trick rage pony might be a bit specialised, it just gives a boost to her skills and you can track her number of rages with tokens. Getting angry and smashing things is something anyone can get creative with.

Like Carcer said: maybe look at systems like nothankyouevil or FATE for less rules heavy systems.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Good abstraction. If the OP wants to use monsters and materials as written for his own convenience, I would suggest adding a proficiency bonus to hit and damage, or better, suggest the OP do it invisibly behind the scenes. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis May 12 '18 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ This reminds of Kids At The Table (GM Tips with Satine Phoenix). \$\endgroup\$ – mu is too short May 12 '18 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was definitely thinking something along these lines - a whole character sheet has intimidated some of my 20-something friends who I DM for! \$\endgroup\$ – ErosRising May 15 '18 at 13:03
19
\$\begingroup\$

As Carcer states Fighter is generally the most survivable class; however, I don't think one class can be objectively called simpler than another. In order to make D&D 'easy' to play, you or her mother will need to do most of the metagame mechanics for her and/or house rule simpler combat scenarios.

If you are concerned with her getting bored with a 'one trick' class. I would suggest the Ranger Class. Primarily ranged attack based at level one, and gaining some support spells at level 2. Taking Beast Master at level 3 would give her an animal companion; something I think she'd have fun with. This class also makes it more obvious that her character evolves as she progresses.

If you are concerned with spell complexity you could pick up a spell card deck such as this one to help her visualize spell ability. Spell casting can also be simplified by using the system from earlier editions. Instead of having prepared spells and spell slots, she just has spells that can be cast once which are recovered after a long/short rest.

There is also a complete D&D system rendered into a card game system; Dragon Fire. The rule book can be downloaded here for free.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I could not find any information for the intended ages of Dragonfire, leading me to believe it is aimed at late teens to adult. Could a seven year old understand? \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis May 12 '18 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis -- I added a link for the rule book. \$\endgroup\$ – ravery May 12 '18 at 16:15
8
\$\begingroup\$

Animal companion.

If your girlfriend doesn't mind playing a ranger (or wizard), the kid can play her helpful wolf or raven or platypus or whatever. This is probably the easiest party structure for the average 7-year-old to grasp; if she's seen any Disney animated movie she'll get it instantly.

The animal's character sheet will be very simple (no equipment, no XP tracking since it uses the ranger's level, no spells, and a small set of proficiencies). It gets free telepathic communication with Mom's character, and, as a nice bonus, it can't permanently die.

If it's just the two of them, then you can also simplify the turn order to "We both go, and then the bad guys go."

If it is just the two of them, remember to scale encounters for a single PC. I would also consider giving the animal back any multiattack it would normally have, as the usual concern about the ranger being overpowered doesn't apply.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this would really count as her playing? How is it any better than having a character with their own class & uniqueness? \$\endgroup\$ – ErosRising May 15 '18 at 13:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ She's making and resolving decisions for a character in the world, like any other player. I propose this option because it greatly simplifies both the mechanics and her character's position in the setting, while still letting you run the game in D&D 5e instead of jumping to a rules-light system. If/when she outgrows the training wheels, she can then roll a barbarian or something and already know the basic rules of the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells May 15 '18 at 17:06
4
\$\begingroup\$

Not D&D, but easy to learn

  1. For something very lean, you can try Scrolls and Swords

    It has simple to understand the game dynamics, there's one page of rules and everything is based on die rolls and a single attribute. This lets you focus on the storytelling, problem solving, and imagination aspects of the game. @AJFaraday

  2. A play-tested D&D variant, from an article by Corry Doctorow, first published in Gygax Magazine offers simplified gaming for young children. Credit to @ChrisH for the link.

This answer is intended as a place holder for two "answers in comments" that I think need to be captured as useful/helpful, given the response in comments I saw. Hopefully, the original answerer-commenter will make their own answer.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate you incorporating my comment into this full answer. Unfortunately, the only rep I have on RPG is the association bonus so I can't answer now that it's locked. That's OK, though. My very limited experience may have helped OP and I'm satisfied with that. \$\endgroup\$ – Engineer Toast May 15 '18 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I tried to summarize my response without being too wordy. \$\endgroup\$ – Engineer Toast May 15 '18 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EngineerToast Thanks for sticking it out. And thanks for the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 15 '18 at 20:30
3
\$\begingroup\$

Have them play using a Sidekick class

Firstly, I agree with Carcer's answer that Fighter is the most straightforward class to play as. There is potentially some additional complexity with the archetype at 3rd level, but again, as Carcer say, picking Champion keeps things simple because it is such a simple archetype.

Taking this idea of simplicity further, the "Sidekick classes" presented in this Unearthed Arcana article includes simplified classes, including Warrior (which is much the same as a Champion Fighter), Expert (which is kind of like a Rogue but with a few Bard abilities and such mixed in), and Spellcaster (loosely based on a Wizard, but can be used with any spellcasting classes' spell list).

These classes are designed to be simple, much like the Champion, but the main advantage of them is that if your daughter does not want to play as a Fighter, these options cover a lot of other roles. Since none of them have archetypes, that doesn't open up more complexity like the standard classes do.

The Expert class does seem to fill more of an assistant role, so this one may make your child feel like their PC isn't as important as the PCs they're helping, so it may be better to simply pick Rogue, which comes with archetypes at 3rd level and all the other problems that come with picking from the standard classes.

Especially Spellcaster

Honestly, this answer is mostly about promoting the Spellcaster class. Magic is cool and fun! I can easily imagine a child wanting to play as a character who can cast spells, but spellcasting classes can be more complicated at the best of times (spell slots, choosing spells on level up, preparing spells if your that kind of caster, etc.), without including archetypes and extra features (such as Metamagic for Sorcerers, Eldritch Invocations for Warlocks, etc).

The Spellcaster class presents an option for playing a simpler spellcasting character that still lets you sling spells around, which is what a child will want to do, but without the extra features that the standard spellcasting classes also include.

Maybe mum can play one of these as well?

You said that mum will be there to help, but then she may find herself juggling two characters. Depending on how difficult that may be (I don't know how experienced she is, so I'm going to assume that it might caused extra difficult, because if it doesn't then my advice doesn't apply anyway so can be ignored), it might be useful for both your partner and your daughter to play as Sidekick classes so that it's easier on your partner to juggle the rules of both classes.

Indeed, if your daughter is going to be the central character of this adventure, then it might even be good for your partner to play as an Expert so that she can help your daughter's PC using the Helpful and Inspiring Help features of that class, thus making it more likely for your daughter's PC to do awesome things? But that depends on what character your partner wants to play...

All in all, these Sidekick classes could be useful (not so much Warrior, since a Champion Fighter would suit just as well) if your child does not want to play as a Warrior.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

D&D works fine. Just simplify rules on the fly, and remember the rule of cool, especially with kids. I run my kids, and picked paladin, champion, thief and sorceress. Then, instead of listing all their special abilities out, I just gave them items that would mimic their powers, or compensate for them. For example, instead of the sorceress using all her meta-magic, which would have been a headache to explain, I gave her a cat familiar. This cat familiar is also an intelligent displacer beast in disguise that has taken a like to the character. Cat hides in shadows, and enemies mysteriously disappear. The kids know something is going on, and think they have a guardian angel. Should be fun. The champion was given a pair of swords that act like flame-tongue lite, doing extra damage in combat. As he levels, the power level will increase, everyone will have fun.

One tip with kids is that they (mine anyways) have no trouble chopping up monsters, but really hesitate to draw swords at people. I'd suggest keeping the threats to beasts and super-evil villains. Remind them they can use non-lethal damage if needed.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.