What I Learned From Playing AMAZING TALES, An RPG for Kids Aged 4+

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As my kids get older, their desire to play games with daddy grows. I recently  wrote about 5 board games my 3 year old loves. Today I’m here to tell you about  Amazing Tales by Martin Lloyd, an RPG system designed for the age 7 crowd but still approachable for younger tykes.

Amazing Tales is a 96-page book; on the surface, it feels like any other RPG book. However, unlike most other RPG books the rules for playing Amazing Tales fit on one page. Character creation and a simple die system are presented early and provide just enough structure to introduce kids to roleplaying without bogging anything down in minutiae. So what are the other 95 pages there for? They’re there to help the adults.

We Already Know How to Tell Stories

It seems silly that I should learn this from a book. My kid — like most other young kids — has a very active imagination. What hadn’t occurred to me until it was spelled out was that he isn’t just making things up, he’s telling a story. It may not be the sort of cohesive narrative that gets published in a novel but that doesn’t mean it isn’t storytelling! Very early in Amazing Tales, Lloyd reminds us parents that it’s us grownups who have lost our natural inclination to follow flights of fancy into the world of make-believe.

amazing tales sceintist

If you think about it, he’s right. How many RPG books have you read that provide guidance or structure for telling story? Whether it’s  Dungeons & Dragons‘ backgrounds or the structured resolution options in anything  Powered by the Apocalypse, it seems that grown-up RPGs continually have to encourage us to use our imagination while playing. Within seconds of playing a short game of Amazing Tales with my little one, we were already riding a bicycle to the moon to find monsters. The details of how we pulled that off weren’t clear but I didn’t worry about it.

That’s something I can take with me into more advanced RPG systems. I have a tendency to want to follow published scenarios, but playing Amazing Tales has reminded me that we all grew telling stories and it’s still inside of us. While I may keep the stories a little more grounded than what a 7-year-old might come up with, I’m definitely going to let go of my inhibitions and encourage players to push the boundaries of their – and my – imaginations.

Just Go With It

Another key recommendation of Amazing Tales is to let your kids drive the story no matter where it takes you. Do they want to play as a knight gallant, armor gleaming in the sun? That’s amazing. Do they instead want to be a motorcycle-riding dinosaur who can talk to fish? That’s also amazing.

amazing tales tyrannosneak

Our role as grown-up and GM is to encourage their imagination and work with it. Character creation is very simple and focuses on things the character is good at. The GM is tasked with focusing the story in ways that let characters shine. A good portion of the book is dedicated to helping us do this, with tips on how to handle success and failure. Even the included settings – a fantasy world, enchanted forest, space, and pirate-filled seas – aren’t presented like those of an RPG sourcebook.

Instead, it’s more an outline of the types of trials and triumphs you might see in this world. Telling Amazing Tales isn’t about following specific story beats, it’s about riding to the moon on a bicycle and seeing what you find together when you get there.

Let Go of Expectations

The final less is one of the most important ones. I have in my head an image of RPGs that’s developed over the many years I’ve played them. There are character sheets both complex and simple, piles of dice in myriad shapes and colors, and sprawling adventures that can last years. Amazing Tales is upfront with the fact that it isn’t necessarily designed to provide that kind of experience nor is it likely a 6 or 7-year-old will enjoy that anyway.

Amazing Tales is designed first and foremost for our little ones. It encourages us to find joy and fun in the fact that we’re gaming together. The fact that your enchanted forest adventure isn’t exactly the Tomb of Horrors is fine! You’re sharing a gaming moment together. I’ll cling to that now just in case he’s too embarrassed to play tabletop games with his dad when he grows up. Similarly, any opportunity to sit down around the table with friends should be cherished.

Does it matter if your players took a hard left into the woods away from your perfectly planned NPC-town encounter? Nah. Throw a dragon at them and see what happens. It’ll likely be easier to explain than a bike ride to the moon.

Amazing Tales Pirate Captain

Amazing Tales is a fun RPG system for kids, and a wonderful RPG book for adults. It recently joined a very exclusive group of games when it was certified Adamantium on DriveThruRpg, which is a testament to its quality and how excited people are to share RPGs with young gamers. The simple rules make it easy to teach and do help introduce the core concepts of tabletop gaming, while the rest of the book helps us parents become better GMs. I’m looking forward to seeing the tales we tell in the future!

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Image Credits:  Amazing Tales

In addition to Geek & Sundry, Raf Cordero co-hosts the gaming podcast  Ding & Dent. Chat with him on Twitter  @captainraffi.

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