Wizards offers a “D&D junior” as free download

From time to time, new roleplaying gamers – or parents that play RPGs, or gamers trying to bring their buddies over from consoles and PCs – ask me to recommend the best way to get them into tabletop D&D. Lately, I’ve been at a bit of a loss, not having any one set or edition to universally put forth as a gateway into the system without going way, way back to ancient basic boxed sets and such. Wizards of the Coast must be aware of this perceived lack of friendly entry-point products: not only is a new “red box” basic set on the way later this year, but earlier today, WotC also posted Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod, a child-oriented D&D variant stripped down to the bare minimum. Targeting age 6 and up, the free 14-page PDF provides everything needed except dice and pencils, and boasts a play time of “as little as fifteen minutes or as long as an hour.” The game looks like a young players’ D&D Miniatures or a D&D: Fourth Edition-lite boardgame, but it just might be a more comfortable starting point for newbies, or a fun diversion for seasoned gamers.


  1. I’m a little concerned that this PDF comes with an “adventure start” text that seems to be meant to be read out loud, but no instructions on whether or when to actually read it. It’s just there.

    Now, apparently there is an actual Monster Slayers book that sort of goes with this adventure, and maybe it has game rules in it? It doesn’t claim to – it’s in the novels line – but that doesn’t mean they didn’t slip in a page or two. So if it does, then maybe it tells you what to do with that text. And, of course, if this is really intended to just be a board game that’s fine too; they’re allowed to make those.

    My concern is that they will introduce even more confusion into a new generation as to what role-playing even is. If they’re throwing in that text on the assumption that people will just naturally know what to do with it, and that encouraging kids to take their roles on and bring them into the game is in the hands of the presumably-adult GMs, then they’re keeping the D&D community fragmented when as of 4th Edition they seem to want to finally unify it.

    Obviously I’m overstating how much one downloadable extra is going to affect the world here, but if it’s indicative of a general attitude – and that’s an “if” – then it’s a little perplexing.

  2. This isn’t an introduction to role-playing games. It’s a fantasy skirmish game. There’s no character creation. There’s no exploration. There’s no puzzles. There’s no decisions to be made other than the tactics of combat.

  3. Agreed. So what’s the “Adventure Start” text doing there? (And the “Adventure End” text, I should add. And why aren’t the “Adventure Notes” in the game rules where they belong?)

  4. The game is designed to be ran by an adult and played by children. They give you the basics but assume that you already know your way around the game. Any person who had ran or played any sort of dungeons and dragons game should know enough to ad-hoc any “rules” not covered or descriptions of the adventure for flavor. Keep in mind that these are kids we are talking about here, not 40 year old gamers. They aren’t going to be interested in a long term epic campaign or any real role playing. This game is for 6 year old’s, they want to pretend they are playing daddy or mommy’s game for realz. So just make it up as you go, they will never know the difference and they will pick up the skills offered in role playing games along the way (depending on how much you introduce into their game).

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