Here at GeekDad, we have been promoting the value of role-playing games with children for quite some time. And, along with all the other geek parents out there in libraries and schools promoting the value of role-playing games in supporting the learning and development of our children – we’d like to lay a small claim on the latest offering from Wizards of the Coast.
The publishers of Dungeons and Dragons have just launched Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod which looks like it could be a whole new line of D&D products for children age six and up. They are quick to link their product to the broad range of educational benefits including math skills, literacy, problem solving and creative thinking.
They leave out the other important skills that can be learned like how to pierce a dragons hide, why you should always let the thief open the locked box and why you should never, ever become separated from the party in a narrow dungeon.
That said, they are clearly responding to the growing number of role players who are keen to introduce their children to their favorite pastime. On their website, they write:
We’ve heard from many of you out there that you’ve been wanting to unlock these benefits for your kids, but you feel that they’re not ready for the basic game or you just don’t have the time to run your own campaign. So we put together this variation, based on the new novel for young readers, Monster Slayers by Lukas Ritter. Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod captures the flavor, fun, and educational benefits of Dungeons & Dragons in a fast-paced, easy-to-learn experience for kids ages six years old and up.
But, if you are concerned that Wizards of the Coast are cashing in here – don’t be.
The whole adventure is available as a free PDF from their website. From a simple read, the game has been thought out well. There are hero and monster cards and tokens which have much simpler stats, a basic one-page adventure outline and the playing system does look like a 6-year-old could handle it.
In fact, the stats look very similar to those that I used in a simple version of Fuzzy Heroes that I started my 4-year-old on a couple of years ago. I only just printed Monster Slayers out, so will have to report back on how I found it with my two boys (ages 6 and 8). My feeling is, that despite the claims, the creativity has been sapped out of the game by the simplicity of it. I have a lot of fun with Fuzzy Heroes adventures because we use the whole house, and transform the furniture and fittings into aspects of our adventure. They boys love turning their own soft toys into characters, and simple things like choosing their own special power (rather than having it made up for them … as in this game) is a powerful tool in connecting them to their character and the game.
That said, it is great to see Wizards of the Coast putting this type of material out there for free. May it inspire more parents to role the dice with their kids. And as I said, proper review pending.