When you think of role playing games, you probably imagine a handful of teenage guys in somebody’s basement. I started gaming in college, so it was a handful of guys and a couple of girls in somebody’s dorm room. But then adulthood hit, with all the responsibilities that come with it. Full time jobs, commuting, and young kids all conspire to prevent the dice from rolling! Once they get a little older, we’ve started gaming with the kids. It’s a toned down version of our college gaming experience, but a lot of fun in its own right.

So – what are the best RPGs to play with kids?

There are a few role playing games specifically designed for kids, with simplified rules and G-rated themes. Some of my favorites are:

  • MouseGuard (available as an eBook or hardcover). Based on the popular kids’ comic book series by David Peterson. This is ideal for younger gamers (ages 6+) who can relate to the characters and themes. Older kids (12+) might think it’s too “kiddy” though.
  • Toon (available as an eBook from Steve Jackson Games). Based on those old Saturday morning cartoons. This one is just plain silly, but in a good way! You blow up, drop Acme safes, and nobody ever dies. You just fall down and come back in the next scene. This is a good choice for a mixed-age group. Younger kids can be as goofy as they want, and older ones don’t feel like it’s just for little kids.
  • Pathfinder (available as an eBook or hardcover). Ok, so maybe I’m biased, since I’m writing modules based on the Pathfinder system! But this really is a great system to play with the kids. The rules aren’t too complicated, and you can make it as intense or as light as you want. Maybe you’re just looking for a good hack and slash dungeon crawl on a Saturday afternoon, or maybe it’s about character development and stopping the schemes of the evil king. That’s all up to you and what your family is interested in at the moment.

Most RPGs can be adapted to play with kids, depending on the ages, interests (and math skills!) of your family.  If your kids have never role-played before, start with a simple system for the first several games. Once they have the hang of it, you can begin a longer campaign.

Do you role play with your kids? What’s your favorite RPG to play with the kids?