Wizards of the Coast has put out a pretty cute little “D&D Lite” adventure called Heroes of Hesiod as a tiein for their new book “Monster Slayers” aimed at the 9-12 year old set. I downloaded it and checked it out and it’s pretty nice, I’ll see if my seven year old daughter is down (she probably will be). I just have to decide if I really want to get 5 other munchkins over at the same time – I think that may be its one drawback, keeping more than about 3 kids that age engaged is about impossible. But props to WotC for doing this!
It’s basically a party of five that just fights a bunch of critters in sequence to earn their monster hunter badges. So, you know exactly like 4e 😛 But heck, it’s a start. I like that there’s some focus on child gaming. A couple years ago WotC put out a “April Fools” about a My Little Pony RPG – I guaran-damn-tee you that if done right that would be a huge moneymaker.
Thanks to The Escapist for the tip!
We had some discussions while back about doing a patronage project that would design and adventure parents could GM for their kids. Soren Keis Thsutrup who worked with Monte Cook on Vault of the Iron Overlord was thinking of doing it.
I still think its a good idea, we will have to see what happens when our open pitch come around.
Yeah, though I think it’s more than a kid friendly adventure – you have to simplify the rules a lot. All the D&D variants have become huge over time and you really want something Red Box or simpler (Microlite?).
I think there are potential designs for awesomely addictive kid “RPGs”. But I think “shift and use your encounter power” may not be it (not till the more 12-year-old range). I’ve noodled around what an RPG for ages 6+ could look like and it needs to step away from what’s become the usual format.
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I saw this posted on a Kids RPG list that I’m on (since I play RPGs with my 7 year old daughter). I was really interested in it, and at first glance it looked really cool. I *love* the simple artwork, and the simplified combat rules look like they would work great with kids and still provide for some interesting decisions. I was all geared up to get to the meat of the scenario to find out… well, that there isn’t any. It’s just, kill these monsters and get a trophy. As you said, exactly as 4e is typically played. Color me disappointed.
Earlier this month, I released my rules for an introductory RPG that I’ve been playing with my 6-yr-old son and his friends. It uses a lot of 4E concepts, but removes math by just using opposing die rolls and health statuses that you check off instead of hit points.
It plays more like a board game, but the scenario booklet I’m working on will lay groundwork for creating more of a story than what I’m seeing in Monster Slayers.
Crikey, the artwork is a bit patronising, isn’t it? And they wonder why they can’t get through to kids.
And then there’s the premise of the scenario: killing caged monsters. So this will teach kids about maths and teamwork, but sod all about fairness.
I don’t think the artwork is patronizing; in fact, I think it’s really appropriate, considering the target audience is 6 year olds. I’m with you on the premise, though.
It’s appropriate in the sense that the average six year old might draw like that, but they respond to art just like the rest of us, and presenting them with stick figures is talking down to them. It’s also quick, cheap and easy, which I suspect is the true reason behind it, unless they’re really clueless, but it would be just as cheap to clip art from the WotC archives.
Stick figure artwork can be a conscious choice of style, and not just borne of laziness. Sometimes kids respond to things that they feel was made specifically for them. My daughter’s reaction to this artwork would probably be a smile and a comment along the lines of “Oooh, cute!” It would pique her curiosity more than typical fantasy artwork because she would feel it was geared towards her.
Are you familiar with Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Take a look at some of that artwork. There’s a reason those books sell so well, and it has nothing to do with the illustrator being lazy or thrifty.
Yes indeed it can be a stylistic choice; that’s why Risus uses it, for example, because the art emphasises the stripped-down simplicity of the system. Diary of a Wimpy Kid looks the way it does because, well, it’s pretending to be the diary of a child, complete with the kind of art a child might draw. I’d be very surprised if it was the art, rather than the writing, that made the money in the latter case though; if it were, the film would have been animated rather than live-action.
So what’s the stylistic choice in “Heroes of Hesiod”? It’s possible that they’re going for a similar idea to Wimpy Kid, that the images are supposed to be the kind of character portraits and monster sketches a six-year-old might produce. But there’s a missing piece there, because there’s no source for the imagery, and as such it goes from “hey look, this is the kind of thing you might do” to “hey look, you’re a kid, and this is all you can understand”.
When I was six, I’d left the stick figures behind and I was enjoying the look of Marvel comics and fantasy gamebooks, because the art looked amazing. I would bet good money that if they’d put some proper pictures of a bullette and the adventurers in “Hesiod”, the kids would appreciate it and then go off and try to draw their own; by producing the art in that style already, they’re taking that experience away from the kids.
All that said, I freely admit that I despise the idea of “aiming” things at children, because I firmly believe that children are more clever and more discerning than we acknowledge, and foisting “appropriate” stuff on them is trapping them in an insipid and superficial creative environment. It’s a prejudice, but one in children’s favour, so I figure it’s okay. 😉
(Thanks for pointing out Wimpy Kid though. It hadn’t occurred to me, but perhaps it’s not laziness, or even dumbing down, but simply that WotC are trying to jump on the bandwagon.)
You argue your case well. I still didn’t get the same impression you did, but I understand where you are coming from better now. Thanks for explaining. 🙂
Yeah, I think the art look is fine and “Wimpy Kid”esque. I showed it to my 7 year old and she thought it was “neat” and “cool”, so that’s probably more relevant than what any old guy including me thinks.
Heh, fair enough! Maybe at some point I’ll get a nephew to do the Pepsi challenge with some Pathifnder art and this stuff, but for now I’ll except the findings of the seven-year-old judge. 😉
Accept. I’ll accept the findings. Jeepers.
She does however strenuously object to none of the characters being girls. (I’m not sure none of them are, especially the dwarf, but her stance is if you can’t tell then they’re not girls.)
Much of this post and the comments annoyed the heck out of me.
– Kelvin, you criticize WOTC’s artwork. What’s your viewpoint of the Order of the Stick? Is Rich’s work cheap, quick, lazy as well?
– Why playing in WOTCs D&D Encounters, I’ve seen a lot of grade school-age kids playing it. While most are just learning, I did see a 7 or 8 year old who was very familiar with the move, standard, minor action set, and played his character very well. While the D&D Enc is set up as a series of encounters, without much fluff or room for role-playing, I’m excited that they have created something that gets kids reading and interacting in person, instead of playing WoW.
– And one last chide – if you really don’t like the fact that the monsters are all in a cage, create your own story! Tell the kids that its raining, so you run into a cave to find shelter…and instead, you find a monster waiting for them.
Bottom line: My 5 year old enjoys this, and it gets her to “play D&D just like daddy and his friends.” How is that wrong?
ChattyDM explains how it is wrong better than I could: