If you are not both a geek and a parent of geeks, then the following post will be of little interest. press the "j" key and move on. Otherwise, there's some good information for parents who like to play rpg with their kids.
Tom Fassbender says:
I have some recent experience with playing Castle Ravenloft with a group of four 7- and 8-year-olds (my daughter and three of her guy friends). Yeah, there were a lot of pieces, but this seemed to excite them rather than act as a deterrent. I didn't include them on the un-boxing, though, which may have been a missed opportunity, but it made the process go faster. When we were ready to play, it looked a bit like this:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fordsbasement/5462302095 (added it to the BB Pool)
We played a total of three times over a month. The first time was us (and by us I mean mostly me) trying to figure out the rules and getting the kinks out. The second time everyone had a blast. But by the third time, they got bored with it and I had to work hard to keep them interested.
The trouble was that the game is essentially the same thing every turn: move, draw some cards, roll a die, attack a monster. There's a bit more to it than that, but these are kids with rich imaginations; they kept wanting to do things outside the game's mechanics–climb walls, investigate coffins, find real treasure, and act out of turn in response to other events. I did my best to incorporate their choices into the game, but it wasn't always feasible or satisfying.
And even though we changed the characters a bit (gender, mostly) to fit preferences, these kids wanted to play their own characters, tell stories about them, and level them up.
So, in a move that leaves me questioning my sanity, I've decided to run a real D&D game with these kids using the new fourth edition essentials rules, albeit somewhat simplified.
The first game is this coming weekend. The kids may miss the finer points of role-playing, so I suspect it might turn into a "dungeon of the week" campaign, but overall, I think it's going to be a blast.
Have a tip for fellow dungeon master parents? Post in the comments!