Saturday, June 13, 2015

WotC and Monte Cook cast Sense Untapped Market

Two RPG behemoths have taken 10 on their Notice checks and are developing RPGs for young players. Monte Cook is using Kickstarter to fund No Thank You, Evil!, with a mechanic based on the same Cypher system that powers Numenera and The Strange. And Wizards of the Coast, with much less fanfare, are expanding their PDF offerings for Monster Slayers, [links to a PDF], a super lite version of D&D 5e.

No Thank You, Evil! will be a boxed game that wouldn't look out of place in the board games section of a boutique toy store next to games by eBoo! and Ravensburger. It looks gorgeous. Monster Slayers is just a few B+W PDFs for now, but it has the D&D imprimatur and a ready market among people for whom RPG = D&D. 

The net result of this might be more people playing RPGs, which sounds great. I should be happy. I should...

And yet, I have to say, what an amazing coincidence it is that Monte Cook and WotC have determined that the absolutely best introductory RPG for kids just happens to be the proprietary system used in their existing games! What are the chances that the mechanics they developed for adults would also work so amazingly well for children? That's foresight -- by 40 years in D&D's case. It feels lazy at best.

If you read my blog, you know how much I love making and appreciating RPGs for young gamers and it won't surprise you that I'm feeling a bit cynical about these two late entries. Please check out some actually-made-for-kids RPGs as an alternative. None of them will burn a hole in your wallet, and your kids will come out loving RPGs, instead of remarking, as a young person once did to me, "This D&D game is just about rolling dice and writing down numbers!"

My short list:

Hero Kids -- Minimal prep, very straightforward, tons of modules and expansions.
Dungeon Squad -- Fun dice mechanic, lots of player agency, easy to re-skin for other genres
A Faery's Tale -- not violence-centered, super cute, lovely to look at

3 comments:

  1. I'd add "Adventures in Oz" by F. Douglas Wall. Terrific game for kids, especially as it uses the already-familiar Oz setting.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the Monster Slayers pdf. I hadn't heard of it before. It needs more role-playing and puzzles but looks like fun.

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