Pen and Paper RPGs for Kids

Pen and paper role playing games (RPGs), like the iconic Dungeons and Dragons series, are often thought of as adult games, but they can be great storytelling devices for younger children as well. This is a guide to selecting and playing a pen and paper RPG with younger children.
What is a pen and paper RPG?

A role playing game is a game in which stories are acted out or described by characters played by real people. Pen and paper RPGs use pencils and paper to record data, like character information, but require little else, other than the pen or pencil and paper.

What do I need to play a pen and paper RPG?

For most pen and paper RPGs, you will need paper and a writing utensil, dice and a set of rules. Role playing games that use dice often use specialty dice, but if you don’t want to invest in fancy dice, there are free dice online that can be used. I use free dice at Dicelog (1).

How do I choose a pen and paper RPG?

There are many free pen and paper RPGs available online. When choosing an RPG, think about the ages of your children, as well as their interests. A group of five year olds needs pretty simple rules and a story that is not too complicated, while older children would most likely like a more complicated storyline, as long as it is a story that they are interested in. If your kids like pirates, for instance, try looking for a pirate RPG.

Where can I find free pen and paper RPGs?

You can perform a search to find pen and paper RPGs. Try searching for “pen and paper RPG” and a subject. There are a few directories like John Kim’s Free RPGs on the Web (2) and Chris’s Compendium of Free Role Playing Games (3).

What does a pen and paper RPG look like?

A few pen and paper RPGs that are suitable for families are Tales from the Wood (4) and Cat RPG (5). Tales from the Wood is a game where players play as animals in a woodland. In Cat RPG, players are cats, who defend their humans against Snufles.

What should I do if my kids want to play?

Just make sure to read through the rules first before your kids try to play, both to determine if the game is age appropriate and to help your kids to learn the rules. Many of these games will require a game master (GM), who enforces the rules and introduces the story, so be prepared to play as the GM for the first game so that they can learn the rules. Later your kids should be able to take turns being the game master.