A cool thing about stuffed animals is that they know a lot of kids. And kids are really good at games because they haven’t yet learned to suspend belief.
And so the idea of playing a game like D&D is also a little scary. Yes, they will learn that much of life is about killing things and taking their stuff, but do you want to be the one to teach them that?
So the other day, with three five-year-olds, I ran a session of “The Prince’s Kingdom,” a game in which players assume the roles of princes (or princesses, as in the case of my game, although the rules are male-biased to a strange degree) who as sons (and daughters) of a good king (and queen, yeah?), need to prepare to rule by visiting remote regions of his realm and fixing the problems they encounter.
In this adventure, the PCs (Prince Capton Rex, his twin brother Prince Obi-wan-kenobi, and their sister Princess Kelo) sailed to a distant island to visit some similarly distant relatives who were supposed to be living in a castle. When they arrived, the relatives—three sisters—were waiting for them at the docks.
As the sisters explained, the family had fallen on hard times. The castle was gone and each of the sisters now lived in her own house.
Each of the sisters invited the visitors to stay at her house. How would the visitors choose?
Era told the visitors that she lots of money. If they stayed with her, she would give them some money and they could buy whatever they wanted. Even a light sabre? Yes, even a light sabre.
Ena told the visitor that she had lots of books. They could read her books and learn anything they wanted to know. Such as how to build a light sabre.
Enu, did not have money or books, but she did have children, a boy and a girl for the visitors the play with.
Here the party split up, with Capton Rex going with Era while Kelo and Obi-wan-kenobi went with Enu.
This is where things really got interesting. Although the players pretty much ignored the “adventure hook” (both Era and Enu explained that she once owned Seven Magic Spoons and extracted a promise from their guest(s) to retrieve them from the ghost castle), they got really into exploring their environment. Kelo taught Enu’s children how to play hopscotch in detail. Capton Rex took his money to town and although he couldn’t buy a light sabre, he did pick up a crown in the shape of a coiled snake with rubies for eyes. He also bought two pies. Obi-won-kenobi met a hungry urchin and tried to enter Era’s house so that he borrow some money from Rex and buy the urchin some food.
And then Kelo’s mother called and she had to go home.