RPGs for Kids

Introduction

Some suggestions or role-playing games (RPGs) suitable for children.  Many of them are settings where the players take the roles of animals, either "realistic" or antropomorphized.  Other popular topics are cartoons, fairy tales, and adventure.

Price: Most of the titles listed here are available in electronic version (usually PDF format), and most are also available in print.  Many are free and they are almost all under $20 (with the exception of the ones that are out of print and therefore can fetch more, and a handful of recent books which go for around $30 in print; but the PDF versions are usually available at low cost.)  Prices are in US$.

Complexity: In describing the complexity of these games, I (subjectively) rank them thus: very simple, simple, moderately simple, moderately crunchy, crunchy, very crunchy.  In practical terms, you are unlikely to see anything here more difficult than "moderately crunchy", because I think that simpler is better when trying to introduce young people to the hobby.

Age and Guidance: My default assumption is that an older person, perhaps with some experience with role-playing games, will participate and guide the young players, at least for the first few games.  Most of the time, this person will probably act as the story guide or game master (GM).  I'm also assuming that we're talking about children here, maybe six to twelve years old – old enough to count, compare numbers, and read.  Older players can usually start with more complex games and have even more choices open to them, as well as having more age peer gamers to play with.

RPGs Intended for Kids

These are role-playing games that were specifically created with a younger audience in mind.  They are excellent for introducing young players to the hobby.  The GM should have everything needed within the books.

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RPGs that Can Be Played by All Ages

These role-playing games are not specifically intended for younger players, but use accessible game mechanics and the subject matter is usually considered fun by kids.  The GM may, on occasion, need to adjust default setting elements or adventures to fit a younger audience.

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RPGs that Can Be Tweaked for Kids

These games are not intended for children and may originally contain elements that would be uninteresting, inappropriate, or scary.  However, the mechanics are simple and with a little work on the part of the Game Master, they can be used to run successful adventures with young players.  The GM may need to borrow from other sources, create setting material, or create adventure plots.

Others.  Many other games were mentioned when I sought comments: Star Wars (West End Games), the original Dungeons & Dragons box set (TSR), Ghostbusters (West End Games), Big Eyes Small Mouth (Guardians of Order), Exalted (White Wolf), etc.  While those are all fun games, they're a little more elaborate than I would really recommend as a first game "at large"; however, almost any RPG out there may turn out to be perfect for your kids.  A lot depends on the experience (if any) of the GM; inexperienced Game Masters should probably start with one of the simpler games designed for kids or for all ages.

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Gaming with Children

Here are a few articles and discussions on introducing children to role-playing games.

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Where to Buy Online

Many of the publishers linked for each game have direct links to purchase their games.  In addition, here are a few links for those less familiar with online RPG purchasing.

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