Chaotic Neutral 8 Yr Old Needs NerdFood
May 28, 2016 7:07 AM   Subscribe

My son, who is turning 8 in June, has out of the blue asked for Dungeons and Dragons for his birthday. I played some D&D as a kid, so I am comfortable DMing whatever game he gets, but am not sure what system would be the most fun for him.

The D&D Starter Set says its best for groups of 4-6 and he wouldn't be playing with more than maybe one more friend.

I'd prefer something in print over a print and play because I want him to have something cool-looking to open on his birthday.

Any recommendations for fun RPGs for novice kids playing in smaller groups? Thanks!
posted by joelhunt to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I would actually just recommend the latest DMG/Monster Manual/PHB as a set. It'll be a little more expensive, but handing a kid those three books is giving them years of entertainment, and if they want D&D, they probably actually want D&D. Plus, it's safe to ignore the listed number of players; I spent years playing with just my brother and it works fine. You just have to modify stuff, but you always have to do that.
posted by protocoach at 7:17 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

They have D&D board games that you can play with 2 players - you can give each person 2 figures. One of those plus the books should keep him busy for awhile. (Not Lords of Waterdeep unless you want him to get into Eurogaming. It's a resource management game. )
posted by fiercekitten at 8:38 AM on May 28, 2016

Current edition of D&D is perfect. Agreeing that you shouyd get your kid the latest DMG/Monster Manual/PHB as a set, but note that You can get the starter set if money's tight.

Also recommending the Monster Slayers: Heroes of Hesoid adventure (PDF) as a starting adventure. It's by Susan J. Morris, who's written a bit about D&D for kids.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:04 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also think you need to get him the current flavor of D&D. But I'd you are looking for something supplemental to run for him and a friend, I recommend Dawg the RPG. It's kid friendly and fun.
posted by bq at 9:13 AM on May 28, 2016

I've recommended this before: take a look at illustrator James Stowe's "DnD for Dads" simplified character sheets for kids! From his site:
For my son's 8th birthday party he convinced me to run Dungeons and Dragons for four 2nd graders ... I decided to take actual characters made in the DND Insider and simplify them so that the boys could have fun without much of a learning curve.
» Sheets for boys
» Sheets for girls, part 1
» Sheets for girls, part 2
» Summoned creatures (Zombie Kitteh!)
posted by mon-ma-tron at 9:39 AM on May 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

Strongly recommend the current version of the DMG/PHB/Monster Manual set (or just the starter set linked above) if possible, even if he doesn't have enough friends to play. For the right kind of nerd kid, they're a lot of fun to read even without playing - I spent many happy hours reading White Wolf RPG books in the 90's years before I ever played.

Probably part of what's behind this request is that he's realized D&D is a cultural phenomenon he wants to be familiar with. So while there are board game versions and other tabletop games for small groups of kids that are super fun and maybe more playable in your situation (I'd recommend a look at The Princes' Kingdom if you want one of those), they won't have the same mystique as D&D itself.
posted by waffleriot at 9:46 AM on May 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

Thanks for all the thoughtful recommendations! We will probably go for the 3 book rpg explosion.

Follow-up - what dice does he need besides standard 6-sided? I know a 20 sided, but anything else to start?
posted by joelhunt at 2:40 PM on May 28, 2016

Your friendly local gaming shop should sell a set of RPG dice. They'll have a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and d100 in a unified color scheme. They'll cover basically every eventuality for D&D.
posted by protocoach at 3:48 PM on May 28, 2016

This is also an opportunity for you to introduce him to a Friendly Local Gaming Store, preferably located very close to a Friendly Comic Book Store. Voila, he's safe from drugs for the rest of his allowances will be forever spoken for.
posted by bq at 4:17 PM on May 28, 2016

Friendly Local Gaming Store is a great idea; they might be able to help put you in touch with other kids in that age range looking for a D&D group. Scope out your local stores for one that's respectable and reasonably kid-friendly, and once you find one, consider taking him there to choose his dice set - there's a lot of cool color and pattern options these days, and dice aesthetics are a very personal thing.
posted by waffleriot at 4:54 PM on May 28, 2016

Another option is Dungeon World which uses similar characters to D&D but used a Powered by the Apocalypse system (d6s and relevant damage die depending on characters). Depending on how you run it there seems to be more focus on world building and character development. It depends what your 8 year old is interested in though.
posted by Laura_J at 3:34 PM on May 29, 2016

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