I recently received the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set from a work promotion. It seemed like the perfect time to start a family campaign, especially considering all the social distancing we've been practicing. There was just one small hitch: the only people I could play the game with was my wife and our four-year-old daughter. So would this Starter Set be perfect for beginners AND get my family onboard the D&D wagon? Here's what I learned.
Up until now, my wife's only experience with D&D was the Community episodes where the cast played the tabletop RPG. By the way, she loves those episodes, but she said she never wanted to actually play the game. My four-year-old, on the other hand, was super eager to give it a try. She loves Dragon Quest and is recently obsessed with Genshin Impact, which she calls “the treasure finding” game. And while her enthusiasm is great, Dungeons & Dragons can be a bit…well, complicated.
The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set Is Perfect For Beginners
First off, the Starter Set is perfect for this kind of situation. It comes with dice, a rule book, and a starter campaign that's both intriguing and perfect for beginners. It also comes with pre-rolled character sheets, which is 100% ideal for trying to play D&D with my politely uninterested wife and overly eager four-year-old daughter.
Before we played, I spent the entire day talking to my daughter about Dungeons & Dragons. At first, explaining that the adventure and treasures and goblins are all imaginary and inside your head went…okay. She got it though, and now that I had the kid on my side, I just had to use that to convince my wife to give it a shot, too.
Surprisingly, my wife wasn't hard to convince. She made it clear that D&D didn't really interest her, but she going to be nice and play with us anyway. The hardest obstacle my daughter had to overcome was the fact that her Neutral Good, Human Fighter couldn't throw fireballs at enemies on the fly like Amber in Genshin Impact. But once she agreed to chill out with the fireball-throwing, we started our adventure.
A Guy, Two Girls, And Some Goblins
We started off our adventure using the “Lost Mine of Phandelver” campaign that comes with the Starter Set. Not too long into the adventure, the party is ambushed by some goblins. My wife, a Half Elf Wizard, decided to try to freeze the goblins, while my daughter wanted us to run them over with our wagon. Neither of these was what I wanted to do, and I tried to encourage them to try other things.
“Chill out,” my wife said, “and let us have fun.”
That's some of the best Dungeons & Dragons advice I've ever heard.
I was in a weird position of trying to be both the DM and a player. Not ideal, I know, but that's what it takes when there's only three people available to play. Over the course of the goblin skirmish, my wife and daughter began to understand the rules a bit. I'd make my daughter role the dice more often than necessary, just because she liked performing checks. By the end of the night, my previously disinterested wife said, “Wow, that was actually fun. I didn't expect to like it, but I really did. We should play again tomorrow night.”
What I Learned About Dungeons & Dragons and Rules
The next night, we played it again. We played it a third night as well. And you know what? We're still playing it. It's sometimes slow, considering we're all relative newbies and one of us is only four years old, but it's still fun. And that's the valuable lesson I learned about Dungeons & Dragons. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as everyone is having fun.
Are we playing completely by the rules? No way. Did I learn to ease up a bit and not be such a stickler for rules? Yes, definitely. That's the important thing here. D&D is a game with a core set of rules, but it's okay to altar those rules a bit for the players involved. And you know what? As long as everyone is having fun, nothing else matters.