Kids love games. That?s a given. They also tend to love magic and fantasy and have an innate sense of wonder about the world. Tabletop gaming is a great way to enable them to use that sense of wonder to learn how to work co-operatively and solve problems, as well as encouraging them to read books and do math ? and enjoy it! Fantasy Role Playing Games also teach kids that bringing together different races and cultures makes a team stronger, and that you can use your imagination to overcome adversity in many different ways.
Role Playing Games have been a favorite of fantasy-obsessed teenagers ever since the invention of Dungeons & Dragons, and are currently undergoing something of a renaissance. They can be a daunting prospect for anyone trying them for the first time though, especially with younger kids. Luckily there are now some great games for anyone looking for a way to introduce children to RPGs, and this is a list of some of the best games where kids can play wizards, elves, knights, and witches. They have all won multiple awards and are great fun to play, as well as being interesting and educational.
I haveorganised this list by age group, from youngest to highest, so feel free to skip the early ones if you?re looking for games for your teenagers. Having said that, I?m well in adulthood and I?d happily play any of these 🙂
- 3?5 Players
- Age 4?10
- 30?60 minutes
Hero Kids is a really nice fantasy Role Playing Game aimed squarely at young children. It?s simple, cartoony, and has lots of fun adventures available to keep your kids entertained for hours. It comes with great pre-generated, gender-neutral characters to choose from, each with their own stand up cardboard counters that the kids can cut out, and maps to play on. It uses very easy rules that just require standard 6-sided dice, and there?s no math to keep track of.
There are also expansions that allow kids to take their adventures into space, or become superheroes, so whatever they are interested in this week, Hero Kids can deliver.
The base game and its expansions and adventures can all be downloaded as individual PDFs, or you can buy them in a bundle (recommended). This game isn?t expensive ? the entire PDF bundle is only about $20 ? so it?s great value for money. There?s also an option to buy it via Print On Demand which I definitely think is a good idea, because I suspect that you and your kids will be coming back to this one frequently and it?s great to have an actual physical book they can read.
Hero Kids: The Game
Hero Kids is a ENnie award-winning fantasy RPG for kids aged from 4 to 10. This game offers a fast and fun introduction?
No Thank You Evil
- 3?5 Players
- Age 5+
- 1?3 hours
No Thank You Evil is a brilliantly put-together Role Playing Game specially aimed at younger kids by one of the game industry?s most famous designers, Monte Cook. What makes this game unique is that it can be played at three different complexity levels, depending on the age of the players ? and each of those levels is compatible with the others. So if you have kids of a wide range of ages, the younger ones can be playing at the most basic level while the olders ones play at the more advanced level ? and they can still all play together! This makes the game completely playable up to age 14 or so, and even then it provides a good introduction to some of Monte Cook?s more advanced games such as The Strange.
The game can be downloaded as a PDF and printed out, but I definitely recommend spending a few bucks more to get the full boxed set which comes with a dazzling array of useful bits and pieces ? check out the unboxing video. There are also some great expansion sets that will keep your kids entertained for months if not years.
If you don?t mind spending some money, this is a colorful, exciting premium package that kids will love. Highly recommended.
No Thank You Evil
No Thank You, Evil! is a tabletop game of creative make-believe, adventure, and storytelling. In No Thank You, Evil!?
- 2?4 Players
- Age 7+
- 20?40 minutes
Labyrinth is a deceptively simple board game of wizards looking for treasure that anyone can learn in a few minutes, but which has a wonderful mechanic that makes it highly strategic and fascinating even for adults. Each turn a player can move the walls of the labyrinth slightly so that the board changes all the time, making it endlessly interesting. A great fun family game that you?ll be coming back to again and again.
Mice And Mystics
- 1?4 Players
- Age 7+
- 60?90 minutes
In which fearless mouse heroes must band together to defend their castle from cockroaches, spiders, and the terrifying CAT! Mice and Mystics is an expensive but beautiful boxed set that?s half board game, half Role Playing Game, with loads of adventures your mouse characters can go on. There are also several expansion sets you can use to add even more adventures later. Recommended if you have the budget for it.
Mice and Mystics | Games | Plaid Hat Games
In Mice & Mystics players take on the roles of those still loyal to the king – but to escape the clutches of Vanestra?
Beyond the Wall
- 2?6 Players
- Age 10+
- 3?5 hours
Beyond the Wall is another Role Playing Game that takes a more traditional angle. It?s basically a beginners version of Dungeons & Dragons but in many ways is actually a better game. Players take on the roles of teenagers growing up in a village who must go out into the dangerous world and learn to work together to prevent evil forces that threaten their families.
Like most classic RPGs, Beyond the Wall is not a simple game by any means, but it will absolutely reward taking the time to learn it and play. It?s available as a downloadable PDF or hardback book ? I recommend the hardback because you will want to refer to it frequently. You?ll also need at least one set of polyhedral RPG dice, which you can get from any good games store or from Amazon.
For teenagers and tweens looking to get into D&D, this is a great place to start. Very highly recommended.
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures, a zero-prep OSR roleplaying game you can play in an afternoon
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is a zero-prep roleplaying game you can play in an afternoon
Shadows Over Camelot
- 3?7 Players
- Age 10+
- 60?80 minutes
If you?re a fan of knights, especially Arthurian mythology, you will love this game. The players take on the roles of famous knights of the Round Table (Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad etc.) and must work together to complete quests and fight off the evil forces that threaten Camelot. It?s not a simple game by any means, and requires good planning and co-operation between the players in order to succeed.
In its more advanced mode, one of the players can also play a traitor who is secretly working to bring about the downfall of Camelot. This brings a whole new dimension to the game, with the players all wondering who might be the traitor and trying to expose him.
Although the game says 60?80 minutes playing time, be prepared for it to take longer than that if the players really spend time planning out their strategy. But it?s worth every minute of its playing time. I think it might also be optimistic to think its suitable for 10 year olds ? I would tend to aim it a little older than that. A very deep and colorful game that kids who enjoy planning and working together will love.
Shadows over Camelot | Days of Wonder
Shadows over Camelot is a unique collaborative game featuring a malevolent twist! As the incarnation of the Knights of?
- 2?5 Players
- Age 10+
- 2 hours
It?s Risk, but not as we know it. Players control the ancient armies (and the gods!) of the Greek, Celtic, Babylonian, Norse, and Egyptian pantheons. Unlike most of the other games here, this game is a fiercely competitive war game, but with a great mythological twist. It?s a much more interesting, educational, and fun game than vanilla Risk. It?s also a lot more beautiful. Unfortunately it?s still Risk, which means games can get long and bogged-down. For kids that want a detailed and strategic competitive war game only.
AVALON HILL | Risk Godstorm | Avalon Hill
Enter a time of myths and legends. Enter the world of Risk Godstorm, where ancient faiths and fears rule. Battle across?
- 4?12 Players
- Age 12+
- 20?40 minutes
And now for something very different. This is a card game based on the famous Salem witch trials. Players take on the role of townsfolk in Salem ? but some of them are secretly witches! The good townspeople must try to find which of them are witches, and the witches must try to evade detection and capture.
This is a fun game, with an excellent historical background. Great for teaching your kids about this aspect of American history, and how easy it is to organise a witch hunt?
Salem 1692 | Faade Games
Hunt down the witches before you become one of them! Will you be the hero who purges your town of witches, or will you?
Dungeons & Dragons
- 3?6 Players
- Age 13+
- 2?6 hours
The granddaddy of Role Playing Games, this is the one that everyone knows. D&D has great brand recognition, but early versions of this game suffered from overly complex rules and some terrible design mistakes. Luckily the latest 5th Edition of the D&D rules is a huge leap forward in simplicity and playability, making it a much better game overall. It?s still a very deep game, but one that your teenagers will definitely want to tackle sooner or later.
The best way to get into the game from scratch is the D&D Starter Set ? this box contains everything you need to get started: a beginning Players Guide, a really good adventure, and even some dice. It?s also quite affordable, though limited in how far players can go in the game.
Or for fans of Netflix series Stranger Things, there?s even now a Stranger Things D&D Starter Set, which not only includes the characters that the kids in the TV show play, it even includes a Demogorgon figure!
Be warned however that D&D can become an expensive hobby if your kids really get into it and want to start buying all the books ? they aren?t cheap! They will give them a lifetime of fun though, so the books can be a pretty good investment as presents.
For those on a limited budget the good news is that the D&D Basic Rules are now available as a free PDF download. This free, official PDF contains more than enough to get you up and running without spending a penny (though you will still need a set of polyhedral dice?). You can also download loads of free adventures to keep you playing for months. A great risk-free way to get into D&D.
D&D Official Homepage | Dungeons & Dragons
Can you ever hope to find your way home safely when pitted against the infinite evils of the Nine Hells? Diabolical?
- 2?5 Players
- Age 14+
- 60 minutes
Cyclades is a wargame similar to Risk, but with ancient Greek gods and more streamlined rules. It?s a lovingly presented game with great artwork and loads of great figurines. Players must not only fight over territory and build cities, but also vie for the affections of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Ares, and Apollo, whose divine powers can aid them in their quest. It?s a sleek, clever game, but it does encourage players to get very competitive indeed, and back-stabbing your friends will quickly become the order of the day!
Be prepared to travel to the Cyclades Archipelago during the golden age of ancient Greece. With the blessing of the?
- 1?8 Players
- Age 14+
- 2?4 hours
With a name like Eldritch Horror I bet you can already guess that we are in HP Lovecraft territory? Not for younger kids, but for teenagers who want to travel the world battling Terrors That Man Was Not Meant To Know, Eldritch Horror will deliver in spades. It?s a deep strategic co-op game of Lovecraftian menace and two-fisted pulp goodness.
Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of?
Mansions of Madness
- 1?5 Players
- Age 14+
- 2?3 hours
And staying with the Lovecraft theme, a different take on Mythos horror. Mansions of Madness puts the players inside a haunted house and tries to kill them in numerous ghastly ways. Each game can feature different scenarios, so no game is ever the same twice ? there?s even a free downloadable app that guides the scenario so you will never know what?s coming next. Definitely fun while huddled around the table on a dark winter?s night?