On a Children's Quest, A Starter 5e Adventure.

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The below is a fantasy adventure for 1-4 second level characters with players ages 8 to 12. Running games for children that young requires special skills discussed On a Practical Guide to Playing Dungeons & Dragons with Children.

Roofus Goodsman, the mayor's assistant, calls an audience with the players and says that Oracle, the town wise-woman has foretold that the players have a destiny to save the town. 

There is a great evil ready to be loosed in a nearby ruin. The players must visit the ruin to stop the evil otherwise many bad things will happen. 

He offers each of the players three items to each of the players and allows them to pick one. The items offered are dependent on the class of the character.

Reasoning: This makes the children feel special and gives their characters a higher degree of survivability. It also provides a fun choice for the player to immediately make that increases their power and is a simple enough decision. Named items are in the Basic D&D .pdf

Items to give to the players

  • Barbarian
    • A Talisman made from a large bear eye surrounded by yellowed teeth, that when worn, allows the wearer to make a Constitution check when reduced to 0 hit points or less to remain at 1 hit point. The DC is equal to the damage dealt.
    • +1 Great-axe made of runic steel that hums when wielded. It grants you +1 hit point per hit die.
    • An amulet made from the tail feathers of birds that have willingly donated them to your tribe that acts as an Amulet of Health
  • Bard
    • A masterwork musical instrument of the type the bard plays that grants you an extra bardic inspiration die
    • A jaunty cap that grants you an extra first level spell slot and advantage on charisma check 3 times a day
    • A worn pair of frogskin boots that act as Boots of Striding or Springing
  • Cleric
    • A luxurious silken stitched tabard in the colors of your god that grants you an extra first level spell slot and a bonus use of channel divinity
    • A holy symbol that increases your spell save DC by 2.
    • A set of thick golden gauntlets that act as Gauntlets of Ogre Power
  • Druid
    • A thorn amulet that increases your level by 3 for the purposes of wild shape.
    • A leather jerkin that gives you expertise in stealth while outdoors and grants you a second level spell slot.
    • A Vine ring that acts as a Ring of Evasion
  • Fighter
    • A well-used longsword that has a blade of iron with a hilt wrapped in oiled grey wyvern hide. The blade is decorated with a lightning motif. There is an ornate scabbard of Mithral inlaid with Lapis Lazuli. It acts as +2 magic sword
    • A footman’s shield made of ancient steel with the image of an oak leaf, within a eight-pointed star in white on a blue-green field. It acts +1 shield that allows you to recover an additional hit die during a short rest for free
    • An uncomfortable looking pair of books made from spider chitin, that act as a pair of Boots of Striding and Springing
  • Monk
    • A pair of wrist wraps that increase the monks armor class by 1 and allow the monk to do an extra point of damage with unarmed attacks.
    • A headband that provides an additional 2 ki points.
    • A simple stone band that acts as a Ring of Protection
  • Paladin
    • A golden shield that is a +1 shield that glows and grants an extra 1st level spell slot.
    • A heavy silver maul, inlaid with the symbols of your god that acts as a +1 Maul that causes divine smites to do 1d10 points instead of 1d8.
    • Fishscale gloves of swimming and climbing
  • Ranger
    • A longbow made of cherry wood. The grip is wrapped in black leather. The bowstring is actually a fine chain made of sinister brass.  It acts as a +2 longbow
    • An elven lightblade composed of iron, with a hilt wrapped in pebbled black leather. A blood groove runs the length of the blade on each side. The large, round pommel is stamped in copper with the image of a centipede. It grants the two-weapon fighting style and an extra 1st level spell slot.
    • A darkleaf amulet around an acorn that acts as an Amulet of Health
  • Rogue
    • A dagger that has a blade of steel with a hilt wrapped in pebbled brown deer leather. The pommel is in the shape of a spike and screws off to reveal a hollow hilt. It is a magical dagger that grants an extra 1d6 sneak attack damage and returns to your hand using your reaction.
    • A dark cloak made of shadow silk, that grants a +2 bonus on perception and stealth checks.
    • A small cap that acts as a Bag of holding
  • Sorcerer
    • A a kinked yew wand with a head of large Aquamarine, that glints with a yellowish light while underground that contains an additional 1st and 2nd level spell that can be cast using the sorcerer's spell slots.
    • A silver bracelet that grants an additional first level spell slot and an additional sorcery point.
    • A green marble wand, ending in the shape of a ball of antlers of Magic Detection
  • Warlock
    • A dark iorn bracer that grants an additional spell known
    • A steel ring covered in hooks that causes 1d4 points of damage if removed that grants a +2 bonus to damage cast by spells.
    • A glass ring filled with blood that acts as a Ring of Protection
  • Wizard
    • A golden ring that grants the wizard the ability to prepare an additional spell and increases the DC of every spell by 2.
    • A hat covered in moons and stars that allows you go retrieve small objects three times a day
    • A crystalline wand with a sapphire tip that is a Wand of Magic Missiles

The Adventure

Hand the Players the Map

The first choice: The ruin lies to the north east. There are two routes, a shorter but more dangerous route through the Mirkmire woods, or a longer path through the Baleful hills.

Show them the map and let them make their choice.

Let them feel free to ask questions about the map and walk them along. Those things on the map are actually there. Use this opportunity to describe the road, the nearby farmhouse, the turtle in the road, the nearby well, and other sites on the map. Descriptions of each location are listed below.

Advice: Treat the world as living and dynamic, allowing them to interact with anything. They may have ideas about what things are, and being loose and going with their ideas while injecting creativity and things they don't expect can lead to a fun session. Anytime they appear frustrated, giving them some options and likely consequences of making each choice is a good idea. Feel free to remind the players that they can ask questions.

  • The turtle in the road has a patterned shell, with one spot that is opalescent.
  • The house north of the road is deserted. Rations can be found within. It is unclear what happened to the people who lived there.
  • The tree nearby the house has a beehive.
  • The cow is white and is quite friendly.
  • If they climb down into the well, they can find a small sack in the bottom that contains 100 gold coins.
  • The small pond has an aggressive frog that gives players the stink eye if they mess with it.
  • The field of flowers is filled with sprites who dance and play in the air. If the player approach they turn invisible and disappear. If there is a ranger or druid and they watch for a while and leave an offering, the sprites might approach and grant the characters advantage on the next ability check they make.
  • This sign is weathered and points in three directions. The arrow pointing towards the town is labeled Brighton. The arrow pointing north says Mirkmire Woods. The sign that points south says Baelful woods.
  • The Crystal lake is calm, with a rocky southern shore. If the characters investigate the waterfall behind it they find a small pool with a hatching dragon egg. Out crawls a pseudo-dragon who imprints on one of the party members, focusing on pure spellcasters first.
  • Attempting to pass around the eastern edge of the woods causes Rock Trolls on the upper ledge to drop rocks on the player characters. The ledge is 40 feet up and must be climbed. (Rock Troll Stats as Kobolds.) There are 2 rock trolls +1 for every member of the party over 4. The rolling rocks do 1d8 damage if they hit, and the character must make a Dexterity saving throw or fall to the bottom of the hill.

The Southern Path

While traveling through the southern hills, the party is attacked by a single rock gnome named Phil. He doesn't attack the party with weapons, but instead with words. If the party ignores him, he becomes bored and wanders off. If they attack him, he begins to attack them with cutting words. (verbal attacks that do 1d6 points of damage, with a +4 attack bonus). If the party hits him, he splits into two half-sized gnomes, that continue attacking the party. If the party hits those gnomes, they turn into two half-half-sized gnomes which continue attacking the party with insults. If the half-half-sized gnomes are hit, they die. If at any time the party flees, the gnomes stop attacking.
Reasoning: Attacking people who insult you only grants them more ammunition.

The house on the hill is the home of a wretched looking woman, with a long nose that has a big wart with thick hairs growing out of it. She is hunched over, has bulging eyes, and wears a dark coat of beasts that looks like rats crawling over her skin. Her name is Esmeralda and she, although scary sounding is quite nice. If the players attack her, she attacks back and is quite powerful (stats as an Oni). If she wins the combat, she heals any characters back to full health, and deposits them at the crossroads by the pond. If the players are kind to her, she invites them in, and blesses them with charms of protection. The next creature that wishes to attack fails on their first successful attack automatically. Reasoning: Appearances can be deceiving.

The cave is the home of an ogre named Blorp. He is frightening and scary, making loud roaring and groaning sounds, but is really peaceful and sad. He attacks as an Ogre if the players fight him. But if they are nice to him and find a way to make him happy, he can be friendly. Reasoning: Sometimes new things or people can be scary but are really nice

The Northern Path

The Mirkmire woods. These woods are dark and spooky. It should just be a three hour journey through the woods, but they are enchanted. At the end of every hour, make DC 10 Wisdom checks for the party. For every two cumulative failures, they wander around in circles (the hour doesn't count) and they are attacked by 1 Giant Spider per 2 members of the party. If the party wipes, they wake up at full health outside the forest.

If the players make it through the woods, they find a vicious Dire wolf near the exit. It growls scarily at them, but is really just very afraid. If the characters befriend it and remove it of the painful infection it has (cure light wounds), then it can be a loyal companion.

The Ruin

Outside the ruin, there is a very wizened old man who is about two feet tall and quite frail. He floats above the ground about 3 feet, but appears very sick. He calls the players to him and says that he is the guardian of a great evil and his life is almost over. He needs someone to take over his job or the evil will get free and run rampant. But if they take this job, the won't ever be able to leave, stuck here until it is almost time to die. Let the players talk it over for a minute, but if they can't decide, tell them they don't think the old man is going to live very much longer.

No matter which decision they make, they here an evil laughter coming from beneath the stairs. They are attacked by a death knight (Skeleton) with red glowing eyes and wearing ancient armor. His armor class is 17, and he has 3d8 hit point per member of the party. He also has the Undead Fortitude special ability as a Zombie.

Death Knight (Skeleton)

Medium Undead, Lawful Evil
Hit Points: 3d8 + 6 per party member
Speed: 30'

Strength: 10 (+0)
Dexterity: 16 (+3)
Constitution: 15 (+2)
Intelligence: 6 (-2)
Wisdom: 8 (-1)
Charisma: 5 (-3)

Damage Vulnerabilities: bludgeoning
Damage Immunities: Poison
Condition Immunities: exhaustion, poisoned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft. Passive Perception 9
Languages: Common
Challenge: 3 (700 XP)

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the Death Knight to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the Death knight has 1 hit point left.
Terrifying Gaze. As a reaction, the Death Knight my gaze at any opponent that successfully hits it with a melee attack. The target must make a DC 9 Wisdom save, taking 10 (3d6) psychic damage and moving away from the Death Knight using their reaction, or half damage only on a successful save.


Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft. One target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) Piercing damage.

Flame Gaze. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 80/320 ft., One target. Hit:  6 (1d6 + 3) fire damage.

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  1. I'm confused. Why wouldn't this be a perfectly good adventure for a group of reasonably-competent adult players?

    1. I'm confused. Where does it say that it can't be?

  2. Ignoring the hand-holdy-ness of it, I think it's a bit too basic for competent adults. The lessons behind the encounters (as mentioned in the 1st paragraph), are very early social skill things that adults should already have. My kids are only 2.5, so they're not ready yet, but I'm saving this for when they are.

    Sadly, my current group with TPK themselves on Phil over an over again and probably attack the mayor to get the rest of the items offered... Dang murder-hobos...

  3. I really like this style of map. I have no idea how long it takes you to make these, but I'd definitely love to see more of them.

  4. Thanks for posting this! great short adventure for my 8 and 10 year old kids. I noticed a chest in the ruins on the map, but not text describing treasure after defeating the Death Knight. What happens when the party returns (triumphantly) to the mayor's assitant? Does he reward them at all?
    Thanks again for posting this great idea.

  5. Ran this quest with my 8 year old daughter as a solo adventure on this first day of summer vacation. Good stuff. Thanks for creating it and making it available.

  6. I ran this adventure for three girls (9, 10, and 13) who couldn't get enough. It was a blast. Thank you!

  7. Friend put my back against the wall to run D&D for he and his 6 & 9 year-old. I had no clue what to do, but settled on 5e (stripped down) as the best option, since basically only I have to know the rules. And I'm going to run this little adventure tomorrow! I'll let you know how it goes.

  8. Hey! It's been almost a week since I've run this; I've been remiss in not posting about it.

    So--I took everything you said but instead of offering them three options I offered them two. I wanted to keep it very simple since they were so young and also not take up too much time in deliberation.

    They were fucking STOKED about the sweet items. Ranger took the bow, Fighter took the sword, Cleric took the holy symbol. The turtle gave them a lot of pause as they ventured forth, but they didn't pick it up or try to pry out the sparkly shell or anything (I described it as "a patch that sparkled like diamond"). I had withheld spells at this point from the spellcasting classes, to keep it simple, and then as they observed the turtle gave the Ranger a spell card--Speak with Animals. He used it and the turtle said that a scary old lady had fed him and sent him on his way; he didn't know anything about his sparkly shell since he couldn't look behind him.

    They went to the abandoned house and the Ranger guarded outside while they found some rations inside. Then they went to the sign and looked at the lake. They argued a bit about where to go, but eventually decided to go South.

    (cont'd below)


  9. The kids were fight-happy and the Southern path was a little barren as far as that kind of thing goes; If I ran this again I'd add one more fight on that path. They met the woman and that dad player kept the kids from fighting her. I know she's supposed to be a lesson but an Oni is a CR 7! If they had fought her it would have been an incredibly demoralizing blowout, such that I was unsure if you made a mistake here or not.

    Anyway, one of the kids trusted her, one didn't, and so some people got her boon and some didn't, which was cool.

    They proceeded to the Ogre cave. I had the Ogre provoke them with a thrown rock since they were itching for a fight by this time (45 min in, or so). They didn't want another decision point; they wanted to hit stuff!

    after dispatching the Ogre I had them find 50gp among his possessions as well as some rusty knives. Why not, eh? They'd ignored the well and so it seemed some treasure was in order.

    After that there wasn't much more than the final encounter. They spoke with the old man a bit and while they wanted to help by no means did they want to spend their lives as guards. They heard evil laughter and saw a red glow at the base of the stairway leading underground, and decided to try their hand at killing the monster. I drew up a large throne room and improvised a trap (which they didn't trip). They dispatched the dude pretty handily; their bonus weapons from the beginning plus the witches' boon was pretty OP. Funniest part was when the Fighter got smacked a bit and ran behind the rest of the party. He was such a battle-happy 6-yr-old but as soon as he got hit he was like, 'I'm taking my ball and going home'. We encouraged him that it was a part of the fighter's job to take a hit and keep on licking, and the cleric promised to heal him if he kept fighting (which he did). Afterward they inspected and triggered the flame jet trap I improvised. The skeleton king's throne was inlaid with gold but they'd have to go back to town and hire workers or something to get it.

    They left and saw the dead body of the old man lying on the ground. They went back to town and the kids eagerly asked for more treasure as a reward. The mayor stated that the impoverished town had given them all it could, but the laborers of the town could offer some help in refurbishing the fortress that they had just purified, and if they wanted to they could use it as their based.

    The kids loved the SHIT out of that.

    Anyway, I introduced some kids to D&D this week! And it was rad. It was sort of 5e, sort of "general trad rpg mishmash from my head", as far as system goes. No skills, no backgrounds, no inspiration.

    The kids are hyped for another session. I honestly wish I could run it for them every week, but as it is I'll probably only be able to give them one more session before school starts. Now that I know they're hyped on fighting I'll either do a dungeon crawl so they can clear out the rest of the fortress (which feels a little anticlimactic but they'll probably have fun with it), or I'll send them on some other quest to recover a stolen relic of some sort.

    Thanks for your hard work!

    1. It is truly wonderful and gratifying to hear how well it worked out with you.

  10. Awesome. This reminds me so much of the freeform larp my kids and i made up for walking around the neighborhood. i cant wait to play it with them.

    Just getting started with my kids girl, 8 and boy, 10. The boy is highly competitive and his primary motivation is earning xp and gathering items. supposing they decide to fight everything, how do they learn of the lost opportunity? maybe the old man asks, 'did you meet my good friend Esmeralda?'

  11. This was a wonderful resource for me. I ran a game for my 10-year old son and two friends. They did great and just _loved_ it. Excellent design with lots of creative ideas, plus all the right room for me to improvise things for them.

    Thank you!!

  12. I just ran your adventure for my ten year old son and his friend - modified for Moldvay B/X. They had a blast. I think I'll take my sone to gaming night to be my dice caddy. He didn't roll below a 15.

  13. Hey there,
    I'm prepping this adventure to run as a one shot for some friends, and have a couple of design questions for you:

    1. Why did you make (some of) the Gifts in the beginning have such high magic bonuses? Usually WoTC published materials strongly suggest a +1 magic bonus until 3rd level.

    2. Why did you make the Death Knight's AC so darn high? Bounded accuracy is designed to scale HP with creature hardiness, not AC. I have yet to run this monster, but I might run it as you've written it, then with lower AC and more HP.

    I Thought a bit harder about your design decisions and wonder if these two changes to 5e's combat math are intentional.
    Did you intend to make the PCs a bit more powerful than usual in normal encounters, then come against a boss monster that has defenses that scale to that increased power?

    Anyway, I'm preparing a modified version of your adventure to run for some adults that adheres more to (what I think) how 5e is intended to play. I'll compare how it runs with your original version and report in with results!

  14. Started running this with my girls ages 12 and 7 tonight; here's a recap: http://www.andybartlett.com/2017/08/dming-an-adventure-with-finn-and-quinn/

  15. This looks awesome. I'm gonna try it with my when my kid turns 8. For those of you who are looking for a set of rules for younger kids, here are some rules I made for my daughter when she was just turned 5. She took to it immediately and we are still playing two and a half years later. Here it is in my google docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11-Wy2vAedZo8POsQhpnuOPxYa3TxMBEeAaXFlcebYpY/edit?usp=sharing

  16. Played with my 6 year old daughter for her first session. She loved it.

  17. Replies
    1. Well, I have other maps, but nothing specifically for children.

  18. Thank you for sharing this. It is a snow day so my kids and I are going to play this adventure.

  19. Just ran this for my son (12) and four friends. It was great fun! First time for all of them playing, so threw some level one pregens at them and they did great. It was just enough sandbox with a goal. They left the turtle alone, stole the food from the house, killed some spiders, made the wolf go to sleep, and ultimately decided that they'd rather fight whatever was laughing than stay there forever to keep it bottled up. Fun starter and lasted for about 1.5 hours. They now want to level up and go explore the ruins, find out what was up with the death knight, etc. The best was that one of them said "That was more fun than fortnight" as they were going back downstairs. Score.

  20. I played this with my 4y/o as her first time and my first time DMing. She was a "princess inja", so a human rogue and I made a Loxodon Paladin (elephants are cool.) We made two NPC friends that were more or less PCs, a wissard lissard (dragonborn sorc) and a unicorn (I created a wood elf ranger.) We encountered three different monsters in our three hours in the woods, thanks unicorn natural explorer forest. Two giant spiders, a pack of goblins and a pack of wolves.

    We "tilled" the giant spiders. The "lissard wissard" confused the "globlins" and then we fed peanuts (from my pack, I'm an elephant-man) to the "werewoofs." After that she kicked off the skeleton knight's head, dealing 1 damage, I stomped on his head that fell on the ground, dealing 1 damage and then our "lissard wissard" froze his feet and we got him and saved the town from "ebil".

    It was a blast, short and fairly simple. Yet, it looks like there's enough for really any new player to DnD.

  21. This looks great. I might try running this for a 1.5 hour time slot at my library's upcoming international gaming day. I have a few questions though.

    1) Where can I find the map?
    2) If running for children or total noobs, how do I explain some of the more technical aspects, like checks, spell slots, gods etc.



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