Like all gaming Dads, I want to introduce my hobby to a new generation of gamers. My daughter is nearing the age when I think she’ll be ready to play, but my nephew definitely has the skills (reading, math) to learn about role-playing. So, I scoured the web for different options (there are a number) and decided to try out Hero Kids.
I picked up the basic game, a couple extra adventures (Escape from the Ghost Pirates and Glade of the Unicorn), as well as the Pet Cards from DriveThruRPG. I had them printed, added some dice and pencils and decorated a box to hold it all. I now had a custom-made Hero Kids boxed set for my nephew.
Immediately, he set to creating his own character (a ninja, of course). There are rules for making your own character, so he allocated his dice and we adapted the rogue’s special ability and bonus ability to the ninja. He drew his character, copied it on to his stand-up figure and was ready to go.
We tried out the Basement of Rats adventure (the introductory adventure that comes with the game) with him and his mother.
The concept of the game is a generic fantasy setting, but you’re playing kids of a village who basically protect it. I like the conceit of kids who look after the adults, as it’s something that kids really
The mechanics are pretty simple (appropriate for a kids game), essentially roll a number of d6 equal to your ability in a particular type of attack (melee, ranged or magic) and your opponent rolls their number of defense dice they have. The highest die roll wins, with ties going to the attacker. Characters can take up to three hits before they’re knocked out. Simple, but effective.
It worked very well with my nephew, but in a quick trial with my daughter, she wasn’t keen on the combat focus of the game. I’ll have to work on a more mystery-solving focus for games with her.
This game is definitely focused on combat. You have your three attacks and defense, a description of your standard attack, a special action (combat-related generally), a bonus action, which is often combat related and two healing potions.
The only non-combat parts of the game are two items or skills that a hero has and that you can use your combat abilities for non-combat skill tests. I’m glad that’s in there, but would have preferred if it was a more pronounced part of the game.
This came up unexpectedly as my nephew asked, after fighting the first batch of rats and getting beaten up, “Could I use my disguise skill to pretend to be one of the rats?” I said sure, but you need to roll to see if you can fool them. He succeeded and managed to talk his way through this encounter and then rolled well and fooled the next bunch of rats too. He learned the first rule of dungeon-crawling – don’t fight when you don’t have to.
The adventure was short, but a great introduction to the world of Hero Kids. The fights were balanced well enough that he felt nervous about getting into fights, but not overwhelming so he didn’t shy away when he faced off against the King Rat to rescue the innkeeper’s son. It’s a simple enough plot that there isn’t much decision making, but that’s fair enough for an introduction.
He’s excited about trying out the other two adventures and wants to create a custom pet (three-headed dragon) for his next adventure. I picked Escape from the Ghost Pirates because it’s, well, pirates (and now it’s ninja vs. pirates!) and Glade of the Unicorn not because I thought he would like to help unicorns, but because it features goblins and he’s heavily into Lord of the Rings. He was in fact excited by the goblin stand-ups and was already building an army of them to fight before I left.
All in all, Hero Kids was a great introduction for him (8 year old boy) and I would definitely recommend it for boys. I’ll keep working on what works best for my daughter, but I have to say, I was impressed with it.