Last week saw the start of the D&D 5e Kids Campaign I had mentioned in a couple of different places. While I have run for my own kids many, many times – I have never run for kids I am not related to! But my son has reached the age where he has like minded friends in school and the time seemed right. Over the holiday break we scheduled the first game for a Friday night.
We had 6 kids total playing, ranging from 2nd grade (my daughter) up through 6th grade. My kids and two others had been exposed to RPGs before. The other two had played the Dungeon board game. So we had a good sized group to get started with.
The parents hung out for the game. One plays with her kids, and though offered a chance to roll up a character decided to just assist with the character generation and such. One father had played in the past and chose the same, offer assistance during character generation and during the game.
I must say the help received was a tremendous benefit – especially during character generation. It was hard for me to help everyone with character generation. And even though not all had played 5e, just being able to listen to directions and help guide their kid through the process was extremely useful. They both helped a bit during play too, which was useful if I was in conversation with one part of the table regarding their actions.
This was my first time running 5e, which did hamper character creation just a bit. While if we had been playing D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Labyrinth Lord, etc I could have been much quicker and confident with some of my character generation answers. As was I did need to look several things up during character generation. It wasn’t bad, but it did slow things down just a bit.
I did have character creation cheat sheets printed prior to the game, so they could be used by players to help walk through character creation and guide the process. I also had tons of extra dice (with enough to give way to the kids so they had their own set – only two kids didn’t already have dice though).
All in all it took about 2 hours to get characters generated by the time I had helped each kid with their character. The 5e character gen process is pretty solid, it was just a matter of helping so many people at once and needing to do a fair number of rule lookups to answer their questions. In hindsight I should have rolled up more of my own characters just for practice!
By the end we had the following characters in the party:
- Elven Rogue
- Elven Ranger
- Human Sorcerer
- Half-Orc Paladin
- Elven Sorcerer
- Gnome Wizard
A bit of a magic heavy party, but really with the cantrips 5e has, that was not too concerning. Plus the short rest mechanics contribute to making things acceptable even without a cleric.
Choosing The Adventure
I wanted to hook the kids early, so I really wanted to get them into an adventure where they could accomplish something, knowing I wouldn’t have much time to run by the time character generation was done (I had guessed more like 75 to 90 minutes on character generation).
I didn’t have to look far for a solution for that, as this is the very problem the Pocket-Sized Encounters from Iron Tavern Press attempt to solve. Shorter sized adventures to drop in when time is short or when you need an option that doesn’t derail a campaign. For the need I had, I chose Kajak’s Kave.
Kajak’s Kave is a 4th-ish level adventure for Swords & Wizardy and Labyrinth Lord, so I needed to do some tweaks to get it appropriate power level for a group of 1st level 5e characters. The biggest change I did was to swap the final BBEG out with one of the more powerful gnolls from the 5e Monster Manual. The other creatures in Kajak’s Kave I just used the 5e stats from the Monster Manual for as well. This swap worked perfectly.
So going into the game I wasn’t sure at what rating to run the game (i.e. G, PG, PG-13, etc). I mean I knew not to go too extreme obviously, but what was going to be appropriate for this age group? Anyone that listens to the actual play know things get pretty crazy with that group. So what about the kids?
It didn’t take long to figure that out! I was no more than three sentences into setting the scene in Hommlet (yes, that Hommlet) before one of the kids loudly stated he was hanging out at the bar! As the game evolved the kids pretty much picked the rating for the game by skinning dead critters and in some cases taking their head.
The Adventure Unfolds
The characters were hired by a local townsperson to track down what had happened to Shaerie, a huntress who had not come back from her favorite hunting grounds. The kids immediately started bargaining payment! Negotiating what they felt was a good deal they headed out, making a stop at the local blacksmith to check out his wares. Then they were fully underway!
The ranger got to use some tracking and eventually they found the area they needed to. Kajak’s Kave is pretty short with only a couple of encounters in it. They cautiously explored the cave and successfully tracked down what they needed.
When the adventure ended the whole table was disappointed the adventure was already over! They wanted to go more, even though we went about 45 minutes past the time I had thought we would wrap up. It definitely seems like a good time was had by all!
The next session has already been scheduled and the group is back in Hommlet. I already have a couple of hooks dropped for them, but they will have plenty of time to poke around town and possibly learn a few more before they determine which direction they will head next!
The session was very successful and I am looking forward to the next one!