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My 6-year-old played Pathfinder


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3 people marked this as a favorite.

...and I don't mean the Beginner Box, nor some simplified form of the game. I mean the real, complete Pathfinder RPG. He made some great progress in it, and I feel compelled to boast of his exploits.

Some of you may remember my stories in the past about my son playing Basic / Expert D&D at the age of 4. He rose to many challenges in that D&D game, and overcame them. He continued that campaign for a long time. Among other things, he played "Palace of the Silver Princess" to its completion.

So when he asked to play Pathfinder for the first time, I dared to get ambitious. Not only would this campaign be a first for him, but a first for me in several respects... at least, in a REAL campaign.

You see, sometimes, I might just create some characters and run them through a bunch of adventures on my own, in order to learn the system. In order to teach myself D&D 3.0, I ran a solo campaign. In order to teach myself D&D 3.5, I ran a solo campaign... and in fact, I never played a real campaign in D&D 3.5, as no one else wanted to play 3.5 with me, so I stuck with 3.0 for my real campaigns.

Only in my solo campaigns did I use a published campaign setting. For my real campaigns, I would typically create the setting myself, or just handwave the setting. When I played Basic D&D with my son, I mentioned that the characters lived in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, but I never did anything with that.

But I had always wanted to set a real campaign in an established setting, and make real use of the setting. Now, I've finally done it. I showed my 6-year-old the Pathfinder Campaign Setting book (the 3.5 version), opened the map of the Inner Sea "Reigon" (sorry, Paizo!) and said "Your characters live in the kingdom of Nex."

My son was fascinated! He started asking questions about Nex and the surrounding areas. (In fact, it was uncanny that he asked about the very places that would become important later in the campaign. It was like he could tell the future, or read my mind.)

Also, my real campaigns had all been hodgepodges of small adventures with little or no connection to each other. I've never run a single adventure or series of adventures bigger than a 64-page module. I've never even tried, except in solo campaigns. For instance, I taught myself 3.5 by running a bunch of characters through "The Red Hand of Doom". I got most of the way through it, but quit when my party got TPKed by that...

Red Hand of Doom:
...large red dragon in part 4. I tell you, that dragon was WAY more difficult and dangerous than its CR would imply!

But now, for the first time, I decided to start running a complete series of adventures for a real campaign, because I had always wanted to run the "Coin" trilogy of modules ("Root of All Evil", "Forging Darkness", and "Coin's End" by Kenzer and Company, written for the Kingdoms of Kalamar campaign setting.)

One of the reasons I wanted to run that trilogy is that it had such an intriguing hook.

Root of All Evil:
Towards the beginning of the first adventure, while the characters are still at first level, the party witnesses the BBEG of the trilogy become dangerous, even playing a part in the incident (sort of).

And it worked! My son was impressed with the need to stop the baddie. Maybe that was part of the reason he stuck with the campaign for so long.

When I run a campaign one-on-one, I usually have the player control two or three characters, while I play two or three "DMPCs", thus forming a full-sized party, and that's the way I did it this time.

To be sure, such a young child has some things to learn. During one battle, after my characters engaged in melee, my son announced that his cleric character would hang back and do nothing.

I tend to give my son advice, in consideration of his age, so I said "Why? Even if the cleric doesn't dare battle the monster directly, she could still step up to my characters, in such as way that the monster can't reach her, and then she'll be ready to cast Cure Light Wounds on my characters."

"No, she won't do it."

"Why?"

And my son smiled, showing that he was wise in the way all children consider themselves wise, and said "I have my reasons."

Consequently, one of my characters was killed in the battle. Even though it was my character, not my son's, and even though the party won the battle in the end, my son became upset. He saw that I wasn't pulling my punches, and after that, his characters acted much more sensibly. He continued the series for a long time after that, and there haven't been any more character deaths, as of yet.

But my son taught ME a few things as well, showing that he could make use of the "sandboxy" nature of a campaign setting. At one point, he said "Why should I travel all the way to Quantium just to find out where <a certain NPC> is? We know that he's in the Mwangi Expanse. Why not just go to the Mwangi Expanse?"

I argued "The Mwangi Expanse is a big place." I showed him on the map, and asked "How will you know where to look?"

He replied "We'll ask around."

I thought about that for a while. Why not? It could work. I could throw in some encounters that could lead him in the right direction. And if that doesn't work, he could THEN go to Quantium to get the information. So I prepared for this change of course. Then my son changed his mind and decided to go Quantium after all, but if he hadn't, the whole campaign might still have worked.

Of course, even when he follows the railroad, I'm not running the trilogy verbatim. For instance, I ripped out the whole...

Root of All Evil:
...sea voyage.
I replaced it with a few treks across Nex, complete with wandering monster encounters, and threw in some other stuff, such as "Euphoria Horrors" (from Dungeon magazine issue #34).

And it was a success! I was surprised to find that my son finished "The Root of All Evil", and I had to start work on converting the second volume, "Forging Darkness". The trilogy was written for 3.0, and of course, it was written for the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting, so I have to convert it both for PFRPG and for Golarion. Also, I think that a lot of the encounters are too tough and deadly, so again, I have to replace them. For instance, I decided that the...

Forging Darkness:
...octopus...
...encounter was too difficult, so I replaced it with "Centaur of Attention" (from Dungeon magazine issue #60), which he completed. With our characters reaching 4th level (at the medium level progression), the campaign still kept going strong.

There's no point to this story. As I said, I just felt compelled to tell it. Now I'm just trying to decide how to rewrite the...

Forging Darkness:
...hellcat encounter. In PFRPG, a Lesser Planar Binding spell can no longer work on such a powerful creature... and anyway, a hellcat is no longer a devil in PFRPG. Maybe I should replace the hellcat with a flock of imps? Of course, imps don't usually attack openly like that. Maybe I should forget the whole "invisibility" thing, and just use a couple of barbazus instead.
Well, I'll figure something out.

Star Voter 2013

My mind is blown by this. My own son is eight, and although he does have some interest in this, we're holding off for a little longer until we actually try him on something (and even then, it was likely to be something simpler than Pathfinder) so I look forward to hearing how things go.


Now all you need to do is show him Hook Mountain Massacre and he'll be traumatized for life...

...in all seriousness, nice story here about how it all went. Keep up the good work on that, you hear?


Evil Finnish Chaos Beast wrote:
Now all you need to do is show him Hook Mountain Massacre and he'll be traumatized for life...

Or Aaron will be shocked to discover how much his son will enjoy it... :P


This is why the huge reason why the "Beginner Box" is not needed. If the game pathfinder dose not need to be made simpler. If "six year old can do it any one should be able to play Real pathfinder...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Dang. And I didn't start D&D until I was 11-12. Little did I know that I could have played it from age 6.


Evil Finnish Chaos Beast wrote:
Now all you need to do is show him Hook Mountain Massacre and he'll be traumatized for life...

Heh. In all seriousness, I DID incorporate a few encounters from "Burnt Offerings" into "Root of All Evil".

Burnt Offerings and Root of All Evil:
On the way to the crater, the party had three goblin encounters, which I took from the Swallowtail festival. Then, when I ran the "goblins in the crater" bit in RoAE, I threw in the nursery, pickle barrel, and bird game from Burnt Offerings.

Mind you, the goblins in the crater were clearly of a different ilk. That dungeon included a fire trap meant to KEEP THE GOBLINS AWAY! Heh.

But yeah, I never would have considered, say, the severed head bit.

Anyway, my son later said that he liked goblins, and asked for more goblin encounters.


Tom S 820 wrote:
This is why the huge reason why the "Beginner Box" is not needed. If the game pathfinder dose not need to be made simpler. If "six year old can do it any one should be able to play Real pathfinder...

I trust that you're joking. Obviously, if you don't have an experienced GM familiar with the system, a beginner box will be most useful. I still want to get a beginner box, so I can examine it and decide if it would make a good gift for certain people unfamiliar with tabletop RPGs. It's on my list of Pathfinder products that I want. (Unfortunately, that's a very long list...)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber

Cool! I'm looking forward to the day when I can play Pathfinder with my children.

-Aaron


Aaron Bitman wrote:
Evil Finnish Chaos Beast wrote:
Now all you need to do is show him Hook Mountain Massacre and he'll be traumatized for life...

Heh. In all seriousness, I DID incorporate a few encounters from "Burnt Offerings" into "Root of All Evil".

** spoiler omitted **

Tom S 820 wrote:
This is why the huge reason why the "Beginner Box" is not needed. If the game pathfinder dose not need to be made simpler. If "six year old can do it any one should be able to play Real pathfinder...
I trust that you're joking. Obviously, if you don't have an experienced GM familiar with the system, a beginner box will be most useful. I still want to get a beginner box, so I can examine it and decide if it would make a good gift for certain people unfamiliar with tabletop RPGs. It's on my list of Pathfinder products that I want. (Unfortunately, that's a very long list...)

Really I am not joking. When Dragon Magazine(which is the people who own Pathfinder) started there change over/buy out form TSR to WotC they did huge editorial on what TSR did wrong and why they failed as company. The fist thing they said was that they spilt there own market by having to different lines AD&D and Basic D&D. This meant 2 sets of staff, 2 times print runs to keep, 2 set of dead lines ect. And while the two market did some time cross over. What they found is the vast Marjory did not if you played Basic you stayed and did not go forward with AD&D. And while they where some what similar game for the most part really to different games. Add if you did the $60 (4 box at 15 each)buy in for Basic game you hand to start all over when you went to AD&D $50 to $100. This lost them customer because they would not upgrade. Which lost us players in this field there for $ for gaming industry and folks to play with. Living Pathfinder is smaller than Living Grayhawk which means they were unable to take full market share of 3.5 D&D. Do not get me wrong I love pathfinder. I think I it is the best version of the game hand down of all time. Are there flaws…Sure but still heads and shoulders above anything else the market place. I want it to be #1 and still able to put out more and more martial now, next year, and 1000 years form now.

The Exchange

But the Beginner Box is a singular one time product. Consider it an extended Quick Start. There may be some who buy the BB and stop there, but I think most people will eventually upgrade to full Pathfinder. It's not nearly the customer base split that Basic/Advanced was. Had they continued to put out additional BB products, then perhaps it'd be a concern, but I'm fairly sure its been said repeatedly they aren't going to.

@Aaron - Congrats on your geek-spawn, I look forward to having my own some day, but I'll have to suffice with corrupting my friend's kids for the mean time.


Well my son is 10 and he did his first PFS game and he did it while his mother and i were at another table. From what I could tell. He did remarkably well. His adventure was a 0 season. That took place in a theatre and under it with lots of Zombies. Did alot of hit and run tactics. With his disrupt unread.

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Congratulations dude =)

My niece is at 10 months and already listens in on Skype when her parents play in my online group. The rest of us can usually hear her over my brother's mike and her "additions" often add a comment or two to each night.

I do think it'll be quite some time before we get her this involved though, but who knows? =D

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Thing is Tom, the Beginner Box is not the same as the split between Basic D%D than AD&D (which really had more of it's basis as a dick move by Gygax to screw Arneson than anything else.) The Beginner Box is pretty much designed to seque you into the full game itself so it's not a "split" line as you're thinking of.

As far as the fall of TSR, that had more to do with it's internal corporate wars, and idiotic decisions made by the folks who took over than anything else. Small publishing companies (and TSR WAS small in the overall publishing field) don't have much room for error, and TSR made some big ones in it's time.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I spent a few nights with my family playing a beginner's box adventure. Wife, 7 year old daughter, and 6 year old daughter. I've played off and on since 2nd edition, none of them have ever been exposed to it. Went through the beginner box's Black Fang adventure. Went VERY well. Had to be a little lenient on the attention span, but when returning to the adventure after a week in between sessions, it was the 6 year old who had the greatest retention of what had previously occurred.

Older daughter was playing an elf evocation wizard.
Younger daughter a human fighter.
Wife a dwarven cleric.

Greatest moment was the excited fear in the youngest's eyes when the young dragon swooped into the final room. Especially when she was hit by the acid breath. After the damage was rolled, she stopped for a second, and simply said 'what about my heart?' - turning over her character sheet and pointing to the sloppily scrawled 'energy heart' gem she had picked up earlier in the adventure that absorbs 10 hp of energy damage a day. After it was resolved, she jumped right in on her turn, charged the dragon excited that she was going to get to attack it with her 'golden dragon sword!'. In two rounds of everyone doing what they just felt was right (the cleric running up to heal the fighter's wounds, before taking 2 claw attacks that brought her to 0, while the wizard let loose a couple force missiles, and a couple well placed strikes with the dragon bane longsword. Black Fang flew away with a mere fraction of it's health left, tail tucked squarely between it's legs. They collected loot, rested, and made way for town - all but demanding i get a continuation story prepared... couldn't have gone better!


CraziFuzzy wrote:

...when returning to the adventure after a week in between sessions, it was the 6 year old who had the greatest retention of what had previously occurred.

<snip>

Greatest moment was the excited fear in the youngest's eyes when the young dragon swooped into the final room. Especially when she was hit by the acid breath. After the damage was rolled, she stopped for a second, and simply said 'what about my heart?' - turning over her character sheet and pointing to the sloppily scrawled 'energy heart' gem she had picked up earlier in the adventure that absorbs 10 hp of energy damage a day.

Heh. I remarked on the same thing here and here.


"No, she won't do it."

"Why?"

And my son smiled, showing that he was wise in the way all children consider themselves wise, and said "I have my reasons."

-sounds like my nephew

good stuff


I must admit, I absolutely love browsing the threads you put up @Aaron Bitman, they're heartwarming, inspiring, and just plain awesome! I also enjoyed @CraziFuzzy's story as well!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My oldest son, now 11, had been playing Pathfinder for about 2 years, and 4e for about 4 years. He still finds 4e simpler to understand, but he loves trying to build wild and wonderful PFS characters.

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