I’ve written before about gaming with kids, it’s something that I’ve loved doing as a father. The Little Mephling loves playing games of make believe in all varieties from My Little Pony and No Thank You, Evil! to a games we’ve made up together like Adventure Game and a Cypher-inspired game I made for him based on PJ Masks. Today, I want to talk about a few more really great options for gaming with kids in case you, like me, are still home every day with increasingly antsy kids.
This superhero-themed game is a little much for the Mephling but I’m really looking forward to getting into it with him. Power Outage has a simple but customizable system for making superpowers, similar to Mutants and Masterminds or the upcoming Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG, letting kids make their own superheroes with interesting powers just like in their favorite shows and comics. There’s an excellent combat system too that can deal with a lot of different situations and a fantastic adventure-building scaffold the emphasizes investigation and exploration alongside those fight scenes.
Power Outage also comes with a premade setting (Outage, Alaska for whatever reason) which you can lean into, or you can use your own setting. Even your hometown! The superheroes are all going to be well-balanced but make sure you take into account your players’ feelings on relative scope. In a game with adults, having one hero that creates magical spells from cosmic energies and another who punches real good can lead to some feelings of resentment and inadequacy. Kids with big feelings might object even more.
This fantastic game is coming out very soon and I’ve already been playing with the beta version for a while. Draculola is an excellent game of kid monsters from the mind of prolific RPG author Chris Sims and the even more creative mind of his daughter. My son has loved pretending to be a faerie named Edmund Spirit and we play-act as him during walks in between games.
Some of the mechanics in this one are similar to Cthulhu Dark in that you build a dice pool depending on what you are good at, though you total up the roll instead of looking for successes. This means that the characters are flexible and interesting with lots of different stats, but not overwhelming in how they get used. At the same time, you’re constantly adding up rolls so there’s math skills involved… I really love this game and can’t wait to see the final product.
Age of Exploration
This is another in-progress game that’s the closest thing I’ve seen to D&D for kids. Ever since seeing Jame Stowe’s fantastic kids-oriented sheets, I’ve wanted a full game that’s got all the Dungeons & Dragons trappings but is definitely oriented towards a younger audience. Enter Age of Exploration.
The “bright and optimistic world of Alterra” has metallic and chromatic dragons, a panoply of fantasy races to rival the Player’s Handbook, and d20 rolls for attacks and skills. The bad news is that it’s under construction but the good news is that the author has the basic rules up for free! Basically, you pick a main weapon, a school of magic (everyone has one, sort of like Pokemon), and a fantasy race (currently just humans, though there’s an ambitious list planned). You can get started playing now and if you like what you see, consider buying the Play-What-You-Want quickstart set with a monster manual and a starting adventure. It’s pretty sweet.