Review of Starsworn and the Stories RPG System, teaching literacy through games!
Starsworn and the Stories RPG is a great game for kids ages 4+
Starsworn is rated for ages 4+, but I had no problem playing this with my 3 year old. As long as your child can recognize numbers on a six-sided die (or is OK with you telling them if their roll was a pass/fail) then they should be able to play.
The dice mechanics were nice and streamlined, only using d6’s and having the same numbers to track for pass/fail through the game. It also came with lots of opportunities for coloring breaks (it comes with lots of coloring pages!) and fun creative thinking that my kid really enjoyed, so it was definitely age appropriate and engaging for him.
Starsworn offers a fantasy world setting geared at kids!
Chapter 1 is set with the characters headed to a medieval fair! This gave a fun lower-stakes way to start everyone out, get to know each other, and practice using the dice mechanics before jumping into the rest of the game. My kid had fun exploring the festival and even made friends with a fire-breathing chicken who is now his companion (and so far has helped him cook basilisk wings *not chicken wings* at the festival’s hot wings cookoff).
From the end of chapter 1 and into chapter 2, things start ramping up as chaos brings the characters into a full-blown adventure through different areas and meeting different NPC’s to complete their first big mission.
My kid isn’t typically into medieval settings, but he was VERY into this one – it was written in a way that he understood and brought in familiar fun elements (like the fair) or new elements presented in a way that peaked his interest (i.e. learning what a swamp was and having interesting NPC’s to go along). He was 100% engaged, and at the end of chapter 1 wanted to jump right into chapter 2 despite having been playing and coloring for over an hour already.
I also really liked how this was broken into chapters for each main part of the quest. The game is modular and can have a good set ending with a nice wrap up for each session. Within the chapters too, there are good stopping points for either taking a break and picking up next time or allowing for coloring. This is great both for adjusting to kid’s attention spans and also for winding down the excitement before dinner or bedtime.
Your star-touched character in Starsworn:
The game provides premade sheets at the end of the first chapter OR you can make your own! There’s a lot of flexibility with the character sheets, focusing on giving your character a personality and story instead of a bunch stats to track. You then reference back to those “story lines” to get extra dice to roll when trying to complete a challenge.
It was flexible enough that when my kid wanted to be a certain web-slinging superhero, I let him. It worked with character creation, and it ended up being a lot of fun seeing him get creative with his superpowers. Since it was just my kid and me playing, we even brought in another couple superheroes to act as companions, and my 3yo kid was tracking multiple characters by the end of chapter 1, which is a testament to how smooth the character management is.
Starsworn and the Stories RPG system are rules lite and teach as you play!
Starsworn uses a d6 dice poll mechanic (see the Stories RPG system) where you get to roll more dice based on how many elements of your character’s story can be involved in the task you are trying to complete AND if your friends are helping you with the task.
From there, you roll all your dice and take the highest one. Whatever that highest one is will determine if you run into trouble, succeed, or both! The numbers for each outcome are always the same, so it was really easy to explain to my kid what he was trying to do – there’s no changing DC.
If you run into trouble with a task, this can mean anything from disaster (roller coaster collapsing), a minor setback occurs (the turtle is swimming away and you need to chase them!), or maybe part of your character’s story lines (used to help increase the dice for your rolls) is no longer active until you can take a rest. Your characters don’t die or lose health, but they can require a nap or a good meal to recharge if three of their story lines are out of commission.
Regarding the troubles and successes, I will also say, it was very helpful in the story that there were suggestions for the storyteller. It meant that as the parent reading to my kid, I could improv these parts if I wanted to, but if it was a tired day or I was having trouble coming up with something on the spot, there were suggestions right there to pull from.
What did my kid think about Starsworn and the Stories RPG system?
I mentioned before that as soon as we finished chapter 1, he wanted to jump right into chapter 2! He loved getting to pick where to go next at the fair and having the freedom to use his character’s abilities in the way that he wanted (since the game is focused on storytelling versus using set spell mechanics or something).
He also enjoyed all the coloring pages – he was familiar with having coloring pages from the games I’ve been making, so this REALLY clicked. The pictures were well done and a little cartoony and quirky, so they connected well and gave him some breaks to either get his interest in the game back or to calm down when he was getting too excited.
For the story, he was super engaged. At one point, he started pretending to swim and hold his breath while I was reading, so I know he was paying attention and excited for the parts where it was just me reading too. It also helps that there’s a podcast that goes along with the story – it was really cool getting to listen to characters from the Max Goodname series playing out the game as well while we were out driving to the grocery store!
Overall thoughts on Starsworn and the Stories RPG system
The story was engaging, the coloring pages were great, and I think the mechanics are a fantastic first introduction to using dice in games. This was a great game to play with my kid and start introducing some simple dice mechanics!
Starsworn is not overly complicated (which is an A+ for kid’s games) and is implemented in a very fun way. I would definitely recommend trying this game out with your kids either as a first intro to TTRPG’s or as a next step for your kids if you’ve been trying out StoryGuider.
Where to find a copy of Starworn and the Stories RPG system:
Check out here for a copy of Starsworn!
Also, check Michael Low’s itch.io here for more games and the Luck of Legends site, including his blog and class sign up!
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9 thoughts on “Review of Starsworn and the Stories RPG System, teaching literacy through games!”
Chapter 2 and the second podcast are both up! Do drop by StoriesRPG.com to take them for a spin!