How to Introduce Kids to Roleplaying Games

D&D for KidsPlaying Roleplaying Games can help lay a wonderful foundation for young kids.  The friends I made and the lessons I learned from my Dungeons and Dragons group have stuck with me for my entire life. When I had kids of my own I knew I wanted to introduce them to D&D but I wasn’t sure how. In this series of articles, I will offer some suggestions for introducing your kids to a new world.

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What to Play?

That’s up to you. I started with Dungeons and Dragons about three months after the AD&D 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook came out. Today, there are a TON of options but I’m going to stick with D&D 5th edition. 5e is a much simpler game than a lot of other RPGs and it’s pretty easy to scale down if your kids are really young (6-8 years old).

I will get into what you need to get started in a couple of weeks but another reason I like D&D 5e for kids is that everything you need to start is available for free! Wizards of the Coast offers an SRD (System Reference Document) for their 5e system that contains a basic set of rules, monsters, etc. Plenty to introduce your kids.

Why RPGs?

Roleplaying Games Encourage Reading for fun I gained a lot from the hours I spent playing RPGs growing up. One of the things I gained was a love for reading. My adventures in D&D novels started with the DragonLance Chronicles. The characters created by Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman were so rich and the settings were so vivid that I was drawn in right away. The books read like a D&D campaign. This was my entry into Fantasy novels. Since then I have read hundreds. Those tales have fueled my imagination and sparked me to write stories of my own.

Adkins D&D Table
Roll initiative.

Reading for context

Apart from novels, I learned to read rulebooks and source materials. In order to craft my characters, and eventually my own adventures, I had to learn how to understand and interpret rules. This has been a tremendous skill to have as an adult.

Roleplaying Games Teach Teamwork

My friends and I had to learn to work together. A part of a successful D&D campaign is learning to defer to the needs of others. In roleplaying games, everyone has a three-page backstory they are dying for the world to know about. Being able to step aside and let others shine is an important part of being on any team. I also had to learn how to identify strengths and weaknesses in others so I could help them be effective in our group. We also had to learn to get along.

Another thing I learned was diversity. In a fantasy setting, you encounter a myriad of people who don’t look, act, or think like you. Being exposed to divergent cultures and ideas taught me how to be open to those things in my real life.

In closing, watching the seeds of these things take root in my children’s lives has been one of the joys of life as a parent. I’m excited about sharing some of what I have learned with others. Be sure to check out my next article about what you need to get started.