I've kicked around the idea of starting some roleplaying games with my son (11) and his friends. I played AD&D when I was a kid (stopping around 1987, not sure what version that was). While I have all of my old AD&D books and a few campaigns, I recall it being strongly beholden to rules. I googled a bit and found Fate, which sounds pretty cool. I like the idea of it being driven more by narrative rather than accumulating XP & treasure (based on reading the rules at fate-srd.com).

Now having had AD&D experience there are differences with Fate that are a bit confusing. Further googling resulted in finding Green Ronin's Freeport and the Fate Freeport Companion, which seems to blend AD&D ideas with Fate and provide a setting. Is this combo a good idea for a first-time RPG experience or should I try sticking to AD&D?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want more clarity around what you're asking for. Are you asking specifically about this choice? For "a game that's good for new young gamers?" More general "how to introduce the kids to gaming?" Several of those answers already exist here... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 2:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: When and how should I introduce my kids to RPGs? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 2:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Are there any good tabletop RPGs for young beginning players? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 2:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am asking about this specific choice, though Joshua has provided another option with his response. I hadn't thought if there are any specific RPG's good for kids but will check that thread. As for when/how to introduce - if you need a thread to make that decision, there are larger issues you should be taking care of. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 3:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ You say ...there are differences with Fate that are a bit confusing. Can you be more specific? Fate Core is a very straightforward game and I find it pretty well explained and defined - but I have been playing Fate for years before Fate Core was released, so perhaps I (and others here) are making bad assumptions about your case. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 13:57

4 Answers 4


Fate can readily emulate any sort of setting.

Fate's rules and mechanics are setting neutral, you could run a very AD&D style campaign in Fate for your son without the rules detail and allowing you to focus on the story. As the designers themselves say in the core rulebook

Fate doesn’t come with a default setting, but it works best with any premise where the characters are proactive, capable people leading dramatic lives.

You could easily poach monsters, traps, and other D&Disms from D&D and put them in Fate to create the kind of setting you used to play in, but without having to relearn (and teach your son) the ins and outs of AD&D. Also, Fate is free so that's nice as well.

Another suggestion: Dungeon World...

Dungeon World is a narrative driven, old-school D&D style system that is all about narrative over mechanics. The advantage of Dungeon World over Fate is that in Fate your son would still need to learn and comprehend the story mechanics of Fate (such as compels and using Fate points) whereas in Dungeon World the player simply describes what they want to do in a narrative fashion and the the GM goes about telling the player what to roll and what special abilities of theirs might apply. The designers describe Dungeon World as:

Dungeon World is a world of fantastic adventure. A world of magic, gods and demons, of good and evil, law and chaos. Brave heroes venture into the most dangerous corners of the land in search of gold and glory.

I've had experience playing both systems and love them both. Given the old-school D&D feel you are going for and the mechanics being on the GM not the player in Dungeon World; I would recommend it over Fate for your needs.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @ArpLaszlo - be aware that Dungeon World (a great game and suggestion) is based on a very different set of principles than the games you remember. It is very much meant to be played as written. I highly recommend you read "The Dungeon World Guide" to clarify some if the conceptual differences. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 5:02

So besides your history with AD&D, is there any reason your actual kids want to play that instead one of the thousand other games in various genres out there?

And while with an AD&D background you may find some of the FATE mechanics new and odd, for someone just starting in the game, do you have any reason to think they'd have more trouble picking that up rather than the arcane rules of AD&D?

I have an eleven year old daughter. I got her the new D&D Red Box in a fit of "wanting to get her into gaming" since she'd expressed some interest. She didn't open it. She was really into Doctor Who, so I got her the new Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space game. She read it and enjoyed it, but never really wanted to play it - still too much, too complicated. So I got her Heroine, a much smaller girl-oriented storytelling game (58 pages), and that did the trick.

A friend has a ten year old son. He got him and his friends into gaming via the Pathfinder beginner box and the somewhat silly goblin modules from Paizo.

All kids are different. Figure out what kind of genre/content they are interested in, and how much rules they are likely to bother with. It's cool to GM for your kids, but if they're not rapidly empowered to play with each other without adult help they're not going to take to it. Eleven is way past the "hang on everything the parent-heroes do" and is moving quickly into "anything parents are into is probably lame and will get me ostracized at school." I like Freeport and have run a lot of Freeport. Is "pirates" what your kids are the most attracted to, or is it something else?

There are thousands of RPGs of every genre and complexity, from clones of the old games you're familiar with to new big fat games (FATE counts here, it's not light) to newfangled indie games, to the point of one that uses pulls from a Jenga tower instead of dice as the resolution method.

So from one perspective, "Kids" and "I used to play AD&D" are not really enough to narrow the field of likely good games down to less than 100 or so (and just for the record, both AD&D and FATE are probably two of the games I would least recommend picking for eleven year olds). But on the other hand, getting into gaming is more about the experience and less about the individual game; expect them to move on to other game(s) once they get the general idea down. Back in the '80's we stuck to one thing for a long time; children today are much more adept at juggling a variety of different games, gaming systems (electronic/computer-wise too), media... Don't invest too much in whatever you're starting out with. From that point of view you might as well start with AD&D if you're familiar with it yourself and still have the books. Or the Pathfinder Beginner Box and D&D Red Box are two products designed to be "starter D&D." Lighter, and leverages your experience.

I fear that any 200+ page book - which means FATE, Dungeon World (though ironically not AD&D if you just count the PH) is going to be a turn-off at that age. And again, though "you" can read and run it, that's unlikely to turn into sustainable gaming for them.


Don't Forget FAE

While Fate Core is an excellent game, it may demand more from a what are essentially a new player and GM than they are willing to or capable of giving - at least at the outset.

Fate Accelerated Edition is a stripped-to-the-bones version of Fate Core - the mechanics are the same, the concepts are the same, the terminology is the same. But FAE is aimed directly at your issue - introducing kids to RPGs. From the link:

What if you’re new to the RPG world and want a no hassle way to try one out? What if you’re introducing your kids to RPGs and want something easily accessible for them that won’t bore you to tears? We’ve got a solution: Fate Accelerated Edition.

My memory of the Freeport Companion is a little fuzzy, but as a setting it seems like it should be fine. As a sourcebook, the hacks that map Fate to d20 are almost exactly what FAE does with Approaches. So if that mapping (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence...etc., instead of the Fate Core skill list) is what you like about it, you may find that you like FAE's approaches (Forceful, Careful, Flashy, Sneaky, Quick, Clever) just as much. Or more. Or less, I guess.

The point is - FAE is only 50 pages in total, so it won't be a huge commitment to investigate. It, and the Fate Core book, are both pay-what-you-want from various online vendors in PDF, so there is no risk in checking it (or both) out in non-SRD format. And if what drew you to Freeport Companion was the return to "stats" as you remembered them, this might work just as well or better for you and your purposes than the Freeport book.


I started RPGing again after a few decades break. It's nice to finally be able to afford all the rulebooks you want.

I bought up the D&D 4th Edition rulebooks and DMed a fortnightly game for a year or so. I found it too grindy and rules-heavy, it didn't capture the story-telling that I remember fondly from playing D&D in the 80s.

I've recently picked up the Fudge book and started running a Fudge game (Fate rules are based on Fudge) with my kids. I've been playing them through the same published D&D adventure, and just adapting the baddies on the fly. It's a little more work for the DM, mainly because you get through more "story" per gaming session and you have to be on top of the plot, but it's definitely more fun for me, and I think the players too.

So, my advice is to go with Fate (..lol) if you think your players want an immersive story, and go with D&D if you think your players will prefer mastering game rules and using that to their advantage.


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