Gygax Magazine has posted my article about playng D&D with your toddlers on their site; it describes how I came up with a stripped-down set of D&D-like rules for gaming with my then-four-year-old daughter, Poesy. We had a whale of a time!
I happened upon a set of factory-painted plastic D&D minis while looking for a toy to bring home in the dealer’s room at a regional science fiction convention in Chicago. After marveling at the astounding advances in robotic toy-painting, I had a brain-flash. A minute later, I’d bought a handsome dice-bag and filled it with a dozen assorted figs and a set of polyhedral dice.
After I got home to London, I performed the ancient ritual of unpacking the souvenirs I’d brought home for the kid. As I’d hoped, she was captivated by the intricate painting on the figs and the jewel-like facets of the dice, and demanded that we play right now.
Poesy has a piggy bank full of the small change she’s picked up or appropriated from us over the years, and I dumped it out and sorted out the different denominations. Once that was done, I used our Ikea playmat (which has a street-scape laid out on it), some cushions, a shoebox, and a cardboard doll-castle to set up a town, a cave, and a castle.
I put all the “bad-guy” minis on strategic spots on the castle, and stuck one of Poesy’s stuffed toys – a winged hamster she calls “Fairy Hamster” – in the middle of its courtyard. I gave her two minis to play, and set them down on the playmat’s ice-cream parlor, declaring this to be the “tavern.” I put two more bad-ass-looking figs next to them, and declared them to be my NPCs.
I improvised a very quick background. My NPCs are in the tavern, planning to rescue their friend the Fairy Hamster, who is being held hostage in Castle Doom. Did Poesy’s characters want to help? They sure did!