Four tips for running a great role-playing campaign for kids

Running a campaign, a series of linked adventures, for four, five and six year olds requires a very different mindset to running a campaign for adults. These tips are based on the kid’s RPG Amazing Tales, but can be applied to any system you like. Here are the things to bear in mind

1. Keep it short

Campaigns for young kids should be short. Three or four sessions is plenty. Six is definitely enough. That’s not to say you can’t play more sessions with the same characters, just that you probably want to wrap up one heroic quest and start a new one at that point. Don’t overestimate kids’ attention spans.

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Three puzzles for great games

I find adding puzzles to games for adults one of the hardest things about writing games. My players just know far too much. But when I’m gaming with kids it’s suddenly a lot easier, setting them in game challenges that really make them think is just a matter of realising what they haven’t learned yet.

Here are three simple tools to add puzzles to role-playing games for your kids

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Sketching out an adventure

I find a blank piece of paper and a pen are essential tools for roleplaying with kids. It starts with deciding what their heroes will be – at age four my daughter was clear that her heroes would have long hair and carry a picnic basket. Only once I’d drawn these essential features onto the page would she consider lesser questions – such as could her hero do magic, or fight monsters?

As adventures unfolded drawing the various hazards and encounters was both a way to explain them and a way to remember what had already happened. Ogres with big pointy teeth, robots with telescopic arms, pirate islands with volcanoes and jungles, all brought to life with a quick sketch, drawn as I describe the situation.

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