posted Thursday, May 17th 2007 by
Dungeon Mastering Advice
I’ve just been having some thoughts on how you might adapt the D&D game for younger players. As-is, it might be considered much too complicated and violent. Here are some tips on modifying the game for a younger audience. Some of this might also apply to a rules-lite game for audiences who would be overwhelmed by complex rules.
Simplify combat. The grappling rules are complicated enough, even for adult players! Remove things like grapple, disarm and charge. The only attack options are which weapon you use, if you have more than one; in either case it’s not an action to switch or draw weapons. You only get one attack per round. Spell selection is limited.
Generate the characters in advance. This is good advice for anyone running a game with new players. However, your sheets may represent simplified more rules.
Simplify magic items. Adding multiple bonuses can be too complicated, so instead of magical weapons granting bonuses, consider granting only special effects.
No gore. Monsters reduced to 0 HP are knocked out, not killed. Swords don’t decapitate or maim; they clash off each other or bash monsters over the head. They probably wake up the next day. (Incidentally, this provides incentive not to rest at will.)
Assume well-defined morality. Teaching kids that it’s okay to beat up anyone for their money is a no-no. Opponents are always monsters, and they are always evil. Defeating the bad guys and taking their loot is always the right thing to do, because they’re always objectively the bad guys.
Join me tomorrow when I complain that I can never find anyone to run a game of Paranoia for me.