Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hero Kids - review

Hero Kids, is an RPG designed to be played with kids and features PCs that are themselves kids. This is a review of the 2012 PDF version.

I was rather intrigued by the idea of a game designed specifically for kids, so downloaded this to check it out. The PDF is 39 pages long, and comes in screen and print-friendly versions. The cover features cartoon-like artwork, a style that carries throughout the game. In general it uses a two column landscape layout with artwork and diagrams scattered across most pages.

The premise of the game is that in a fantasy land all the adults in a village have disapeared and so the kids of the village will have to deal with any issues that come up, whether that's a fire in stables, or an evil wizard raising the dead. The missing adults is not a mystery to be solved (unless you want to do that), they could be out raiding, having a party or bringing in the harvest, the point is, the kids have to deal with the trouble.

So the book starts with an brief introduction to roleplaying, and I got the impression that this part was written for teachers, or group leaders rather than the regular roleplayer.

Then we get an introduction to the vale where the village resides and it nicely contains a lot of ominous sounding names, such as "Darkenwold Woods".

Combat rules are suitably simple and match the objective of getting youngsters into the hobby, with four combat related abilities each being assigned a number of dice. You roll your attack dice, defender rolls armour dice. The player with the highest individual die wins. Rather than having the classic Hit Point scale a character  gets bruised, hurt and finally knocked out. meaning that combat will not go on for too long. Incidentally, it means that every single roll matters!

None of the other mechanisms of the game are more complex that those described above, in fact they are generally very simple and this makes it an ideal first game. No complex rules explanations, no beginners-fear of getting things wrong, just straight forward rules.

After the brief character generation rules which are basically allocating dice to the four stats, there's an interesting page about playing the game with other peoples kids and a reminder to be careful of the subjects you cover. Then comes some hints and tips for the referee on how to handle playing with kids, common sense stuff to be sure, but worth the read, as you might be playing with complete newbies to roleplaying and many of us forget what that was like.

Then come five pages of pre-gen sheets. Each with its own drawn character, stats and abilities listed, along with a standee, ready to fold. I love this format. Print the page and hand it to the kids, get them to cut out the character sheet and the standee, making it a project as well as a game.

The last seven pages of the PDF is for monsters. Each type gets a character sheet of its own and a page of standees.

That's it. Simple. Everything about this game is simple, and beautiful. The cartoon look of the characters is excellent and non-threatening, the hints and advice for the adults clear and well thought out. I don't know about reserving this game for kids, that's clearly where it's aimed, but I'd play this at the drop of a hat. Like the awesome game "3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars", it's not about the dice rolls, but about telling the story the dice lead you to.

A quick scan of DriveThruRPG will let you see that this game has a bunch of scenarios to support it and colouring books too!  I was blown away at what a great idea colouring books were. Imagine playing the game then getting to relive the great moments with the kids as they colour-in the scenes they've just been playing in, an awesome idea.

A must buy for parents, I'm so glad I bought it.

I'm an author, I write adventure game books.

1 comment:

Michael Heywood said...

That is a really good review, and it sounds like a pretty cool game.
It is a pleasing trend to have so many good games written for getting kids into the hobby.