Since I’ve already ruled out D&D as an option for running a game with my kids, I looked through a number of systems I own (and I own a lot more than I have actually played) that I thought might work.
First, I looked at systems specifically geared towards kids: No Thank You Evil!, Hero Kids, and Sidekick Quests.
No Thank You Evil! is a game that I like the concept of, but the application just doesn’t really do anything for me. I purchased all of the Kickstarter sets and expansions hoping that I would enjoy it more, but like a lot of Monte Cook game products I feel it is inconsistent and incomplete. Their Cypher system could be used to get the type of game play I’m looking for, but I feel like I would be spending a lot of time fighting the system and being disappointed at the handouts and extras which are close to being useful, but not quite there, I would have to make a bunch of my own.
We’ve played this a handful of times with the boys and they loved it. I was able to make up some interesting adventures, but there was less interaction with the boys as they didn’t really know what to do with their characters (except shoot at bad guys), without prodding and suggestions from the parents.
PASS: It’s quite simply not a game I enjoy running and I’m not willing to put the effort I think it would require to run the games I want.
Hero Kids is a game which is very much like D&D lite meant for players between 4 and 10. It has a limited character sheet which is almost entirely focused on combat. There are some sparse rules to explore and role play, but the majority of the rules and adventure content is focused on fighting as the primary action.
PASS: It has all of the inherent problems as D&D and I feel like I’d be fighting against the system the entire time to run the type of game I’m looking for.
Sidekick Quests is a game I picked up on kickstarter with potential and great art which go along side a webcomic. It just completed the second Kickstart campaign and I’m interested to see what the updated game system will bring. Each sidekick character starts with four core actions, two of which can only be used once per gaming session. The emphasis is on being creative instead of always beating on monsters.
MAYBE: Of the games for kids, Sidekick Quests would be my choice to adapt. I could see myself using the character/NPC templates and the quest setup. I do feel like I could get away with providing the player characters with more than just four available actions, but I will explore that when I look at the adult games tomorrow.
All of these games have their benefits and I think if I chose any of them and played them out of the box and just play the available adventures, the boys would have a good time and appreciate their early RPG experiences. Sidekick Quests is definitely more along the lines of what I want to do and I could see myself having more fun playing that with them than the others.
Next, on to the adult games.