D&D for a 10 year old boy
August 28, 2006 8:06 AM   Subscribe

What is a good Dungeons and Dragons set to get to help a 10 year old boy get into desktop roleplaying games?

My son has been playing online roleplaying games (runescape, puzzlepirates) lately and I mentioned he would enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons. That sparked his interest and he asked if I could get something set up.

Now, I haven't played D&D for over 25 years and I didn't do much dungeonmastering then. I know D&D has expanded and mutated and such; what would be a good starter set that he would enjoy and would make it easy for me to set up a campaign?
posted by jazon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The basic set rules that take you to level 2 are only a $5.00 download.

posted by mecran01 at 8:09 AM on August 28, 2006

D&D was recently acquired by Wizards of the Coast and the system was given a complete overhaul. They have a Basic Game Set that includes dice and watered-down rules.
Purists tend to dislike some of the modifications in the 3.5 system though, so if you want the D&D you remember I'd suggest picking up an old 2nd edition Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide from a used bookstore.
posted by ktrey at 8:11 AM on August 28, 2006

The main problem with 3.5 in my opinion is that it didn't warrant making everybody buy new books so soon after 3rd edition came out.

Still, the d20 rules are actually much easier to pick up than 2nd edition, and to my mind more consistent. I'd just go with the current basic setup, which is The Player's Handbook, The Dungeon Master's Guide, and possibly the first Monster Manuals if you're feeling generous. There are also a lot of companies which make little one-shot module adventures for about $4 (?) a shot. You'll see them in the gaming store if you go there, they look just like brochures.

And just as an interesting factoid, all of the above are quite easy to get as pdfs via bittorrent. I still like to buy physical copies of the books because they're so much easier to reference than electronic copies, but they're there if you need them.
posted by Hildago at 8:19 AM on August 28, 2006

Also: Goodman Games has a line of Adventure Modules that really capture the "feel" of OD&D (some even feature artwork by Erol Otis!)

Quick Dungeon Mastering Tip:
They may be overkill for a ten year old, but depending on his level of sophistication and imagination the addition of puzzles and riddles might steer the adventures away from the garden variety "Hack n' Slash." But there should be definately bunches of bad guys to vanquish.
Also: D&D tends to be more enjoyable with a larger group, does he have any friends or peers that might be interested as well?
posted by ktrey at 8:28 AM on August 28, 2006

I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons for 20 years now, and I strongly suggest you get your son a copy of the 3.5 edition of the Player's Handbook. Anything else is a waste of time. The 3.5 core rules are the best rules for D&D (including AD&D) ever. Later you'll want to pick up the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual too. Don't forget to get a couple sets of dice.

At first things will seem complicated to a 10 yr old, but since you're willing to help him out he'll get the hang of it in no time.

My suggestion would be to get your son and one or two of his closest friends, help them make characters, then take them on a simple hack 'n slash dungeon crawl. A barbarian hacking down kobolds en masse is sure to please him, and hopefully he'll be hooked.

A few tips for you first sessions:
- All heavy melee classes (fighters, barbarians, paladins, and even clerics) should get the feats Power Attack and Cleave at some point (sooner rather than later). Cleave allows the character an additional attack after downing a foe, and his one of the thrills of playing melee classes, usually accompanied by a cheerful cry of "CLEAVE!"

- Low level spell casters are weak, but selecting the spells Sleep, Burning Hands, and Magic Missile will make them useful.

- Rogues are fun to play as well but need to be careful with their skills selection. Hide, Move Silently, Pick Locks, Search, Spot and Disable Device are all important to a rogue. Letting a beginning player know when it would be a good time to use an appropriate skill is important so that he doesn't feel like a weak fighter.

- For your first few adventures be liberal with loot, finding lots of healing potions and a bunch of +1 or +2 items will go a long way to keeping the players hooked. Be sure to include scrolls if there are casters in the party.

- Lastly, there are tons of online resources for D&D. The Wizards of the Coast site features many maps, monsters, and mini-adventures all free, and there are oodles of fan sites with extra content. D&D doesn't have to be expensive.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:39 AM on August 28, 2006

also you should possibly check out other RPGs that are designed specifically for children. i love D&D and my husband started playing when he was a very small child and swears by it.. but just in case.. The Escapist
posted by trishthedish at 10:27 AM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm gonna have to side with ktrey rather than Vindaloo -- the basic game set is the way to go as an introduction. It's a much less complicated intro to the game, contains everything needed, and has some nice miniatures and dice. It's also cheaper than spending $100 on the three core hardcovers and a set of dice, in case he decides it's not fast-paced enough for him.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:32 AM on August 28, 2006

Another long time gamer here. I got started with the "blue box" basic set and played quite a bit of 1st and 2nd ed D&D (among many other games). I just wanted to second the advice to pick up 3.5. Probably the basic set, and if they like it then the three core books.

If you account for inflation this addition is cheaper than the last several (especially the horrible 2.5 edition in the black bindings) and has just amazing production values. The artwork is better than any previous, the books are full color all the way through, the bindings are much better quality etc..

If they like the first game then it would be a good idea to pick up a battle-mat. I think this is the single best game-aid one can buy for 3.5. You can get them at most game stores or online. Its a roll-up mat with 1 inch squares (some have hexes on the reverse side) that you can draw on with dry-erase markers like a white board. Its perfect for keeping track of combat rounds. Some of the 3.5 rules that seem kinda complicated at first (eg: Attacks of Oppurtunity) actually are very simple once you have a visual representation of them. You can splurge and get miniatures but counters work fine too. Its pretty easy to find PDFs of counters to print and cut-out online.

Also, if they end up liking the basic game be aware that there are currently a ton of books available for D&D. While many of them are quite good, you really only need the core books (Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Masters Guide). Getting more than that early on is generally not a good idea as it is just overwhelming and confusing.
posted by Riemann at 12:05 PM on August 28, 2006

Can I suggest the Fighting Fantasy books? That's how I got started way back in the early 80s. It gets you into the idea of playing a character in your head, keeping track of it on a character sheet, rolling dice to resolve actions, and making choices that affect the plot. From there, it's an easy steup up to a DM and playing with friends.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:08 PM on August 28, 2006

Argh, "step up", even.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:08 PM on August 28, 2006

Ooh, and if you can find them, grab the Dragon Warriors books. It's got a kinda Fighting Fantasy mechanic, but on a D&D scale (classes, monster manual, spells, artifacts etc).
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:14 PM on August 28, 2006

Ooh, and if you can find them, grab the Dragon Warriors books.

available in pdf form.
posted by juv3nal at 12:41 AM on August 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

*hands juv3nal an "IOU frottage" voucher*

I've got the first three, but I've never seen the others in Australia - thank you!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:09 PM on August 29, 2006

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