Tuesday, June 30, 2015

D&D: You know... for kids!

"Let's be friends!" 
A couple weeks ago, Wizards of the Coast uploaded a new Monster Slayers PDF. Monster Slayers is an attempt to create a simplified set of rules for younger kids to grasp the basic D&D (pun unintended) mechanics.

Wizards originally created Monster Slayers: Heroes of Hesiod for Fourth Edition D&D and revised it slightly (as in, not very much at all) for Fifth Edition with Monster Slayers: Champion of the Elements.

The two systems are basically the same and only differ in the monster stats provided. The premise is fairly simple. Each kid in your group picks from several pre-generated characters that consist of typical base classes, Fighter, Rogue, Magic-User Wizard... etc. Each character has a single "normal" weapon attack and a "special" attack that may be used in specific tactical circumstances (like ganging up on a monster). Weapons do 1 point of damage unless there is a critical hit.

From a mechanics standpoint, Wizards does a fairly good job of simplifying. There are no attributes/bonuses. There are no skills. Just AC, Hit Points, Speed (in squares) and attacks. The weapon or special attack already has the bonus added to the die roll in its explanation.

"I just wanna cuddle!"
Where Monster Slayers completely falls down is in the scenario. It's basically, "Look, kids! There's a monster! SLAY IT!!!"

Seriously. That's the scenario for both PDFs. In the original, the "Heroes" are sent into an arena to kill the cutest, most cuddly looking monsters in existence. In the second, they are... wait for it... sent into an arena to kill some slightly less cuddly looking monsters. I guess the art director figured out that maybe the kids felt bad murdering huggable monsters.

Exploration?  Social interaction?  F@#% that noise.

Let's murder some Pillow Pets!

This is a monster (pun intended) of a missed opportunity. Wizards had the chance to write up a simple scenario that could have elicited some rudimentary role-playing from children... Such as a mystery scenario with perhaps a couple NPCs, a puzzle encounter and a combat or two.

But no, it's a just 4 combats. In a row. With no story or motivation other than "We like to murderize things."

This is not how to teach role-playing to kids. This is Murder-Hobos for Kids.

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