Two years ago, while spending time with my brothers, I played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time ever. David had been introduced to D&D by a coworker during COVID. Tony and Alex apparently had played in high school. I’m not sure when David’s wife started playing, but she joined us that night, too. David played the role of DM and selected a one-off campaign. I had a blast and couldn’t believe that I’d somehow gone most of my life without ever having had someone convince me to play. Incidentally, in our campaign, we accidentally murdered Santa Claus. Ask me about it some time.
Last year, we were all together for Christmas and David’s daughter had her D&D dice and rolling mat. David had Adventures with Muk, a D&D campaign created by Wizards of the Coast as part of their partnership with Extra Life. (Apparently, there’s also a sequel!) I wasn’t sure how well the kids would do with the idea of having an adventure which took place completely in their heads (as well as the fact that David was going to have to DM for 4 kids from ages 10-4). The kids had a ton of fun that day. However, afterwards the kids hadn’t mentioned anything about D&D.
Suddenly, 2 weeks ago they asked my wife for some D&D dice to play D&D. I’m not sure what triggered this after 7 months, but I asked David to send me his copy of Adventures with Muk. Over 2 days we completed nearly every campaign prompt in the book (as well as a couple I made up). It was a learning process for me to take on the role of the Dungeon Master, having only ever played D&D once before. The first time we played I didn’t understand what armor class was. I treated it as armor, making some of the battles take WAY longer than they should have. I didn’t understand most of the ability checks or even that I should have had the players roll for initiative for battle order.
As I googled to figure out the rules, Google figured that I must be into D&D now. So my ads started reflecting that. Through those ads I found the DnD Adventure Club. They make DnD Adventures written specifically for kids. Their FAQ states that a 12 year old should be able to DM for friends and family as young as 5 years old. Every 3 books creates a trilogy around a theme. I bought us the Town Trilogy and the kids had a blast playing it this past weekend. They’re dying to figure out how the story continues. (It does seem that each trilogy leads into the next in terms of what you learn about the world) I also bought their D&D Quickstart guide. That really helped fill in the gaps in my DM skills as well as explaining their simplified version of the D&D 5e rules. I think the quality of the books is really great and I plan on probably doing a review post and/or video about them at some point in the future. If you’re intrigued now, they have a URL you can follow: https://account.dndadventureclub.com?r=1199641&s=15549 and get $5 off your order.
For me the most fun part about DMing for the kids has been seeing how they solve the problems presented by the adventure. It always amuses me, and sometimes surprises me, whether they choose to fight or sneak. They’re getting better at the immersion and expanding their strategy; using spells or stealth, for example. Sam tends to always want to battle, even to the point of making sure his characters sneeze loudly or stomp around whenever the adventuring party is trying to sneak around an enemy.
My favorite example of this was from one of our Muk adventures. I was the DM for the adventure about the Dwarf King going into the cave in the snow mountains to get a special gem. In the year since he went into the mountains, no one has seen or heard from him. One of the prompts in the campaign guide suggested that maybe the gem causes him to fall asleep. The cave is also guarded by a giant that is supposed to be too tough for the kids to defeat in battle. They snuck past the giant successfully and the party split up at a fork in the cave. Sam ended up taking the left fork and finding the Dwarf King asleep. When he was shaken awake, he lost his grip on the gem and woke up. I then had him keep falling asleep every time he held it for more than a few paces. So Sam’s idea was to tuck the gem into the king’s shirt so that he would stay asleep and then Sam’s character rolled him to the others.
In the other fork, Scarlett found a bunch of treasure and an underground river. A mermaid they’d met in a previous adventure offered to help them by giving them the ability to breathe underwater so they can follow the river out rather than trying to get past the giant again. So the kids start trying to figure out what to do about the fact that the king keeps falling asleep. Stella mentioned they have a bag, so I thought they’re going to put the gem in the bag where no one will touch it. But, no, that’s not it. They intended to tie the gem around the king’s hand so he would stay asleep and then they would drag him underwater in the bag. I mention that the bag is too small to fit the King to see if that triggers them to just keep the gem in there. But instead they just decided to keep him asleep, but carry him.
After they’ve reached safety, the king demanded to know what happened and how they ended up outside the cave. Astonishingly, they decided they had to lie to him. So they tried a couple deception roles (but lost them both). Luckily he was distracted and ended up not noticing. But yeah, that’s the kind of fun I have as a DM with the kids.
It’s all given me a desire to play another adult campaign, so I’ve been searching to see if I can do a one-off with some folks online or with some friends or family. I don’t know that I can commit to weekly bouts to 4 hours to a game, so I’ll have to see what I can rig up.
Scarlett, who loves to draw, often uses downtime during D&D to sketch characters from the various adventures – the images in this blog post are sketches she’s done in the various campaigns up until now. The featured image is a character from Muk that Scarlett tweaked to make her own.