I'm wondering if anybody has run this module with a young group. Through my work at a mental health agency I'm going to get the opportunity to start a respite group for roleplayers. My hope is to run them through the Beginner Box and have Shiela take notice of the PCs.
I own this module and really like it. Additionally, I'm thinking that the PCs will become deputized and given the task of bringing the Tower Girls into custody. This is mostly to encourage my agency sponsored roleplaying group to spare the lives of humanoids.
Would it be way detrimental to have the characters brought in knowing where Natalya is and being sent to apprehend her? Other than the potential for bad times with the Tower Girls and the derro torture, which will be tweaked into non-specific experimentation and interrogation, am I right in viewing this as a hard PG rating?
I've read a bit about what mental health agencies like yours are doing with RPGs; I wish we had one like that in my area for my Asperger's son.
To your question, I ran the module with my three kids, two of whom are teenagers and one a preteen. I agree that it would be easy enough to run at a PG level (although I suspect that wouldn't be equally true of later modules in the same adventure path). You could easily hand-wave all lethal damage against humanoids as nonlethal.
However, I should mention that I didn't find it a very satisfying adventure after my players entered the Crow, for three reasons:
1) The Tower Girls simply weren't compelling as "bad guys." My kids would rather be fighting monsters.
2) The Crow was a tedious dungeon crawl, at least the way I ran it. (Disclaimer: This was my first attempt at GMing in over 20 years, so if you're more experienced, you could probably do a lot better.)
3) I was dissatisfied as a GM that I couldn't make the Tower Girls do the logical thing (flee combat, collect reinforcements, and overwhelm the players) without creating a TPK. That was just my problem, of course; the players never knew about it.
Once my players got below the waterline, I faked a climactic battle, congratulated the players on completing the adventure, and started over with "The Dragon's Demand," which had greater variety in its encounters and more opportunities for roleplaying. (I've also run them through Crypt of the Everflame, which was their first adventure after The Beginner Box.)