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Age target: all ages (counting/tracking required)
Babies and Broadswords is a system that comes with some premade scenarios to facilitate your adventures! These adventures are all-ages geared with some comic fights (like your character going into a temper tantrum rage!) and some potty jokes (our group learned to definitely take a friend with you to the bathroom…), but that’s also pretty standard for most kid’s repertoire.
For counting and mechanics, everything uses a d6 with some simple addition for your stat bonuses, so kids who can count and add with a little bit of help should be able to play. You have a few special abilities and items as well to keep an eye on, but again, the list is short, so if kids can read a bit or you want to help them with this part, there aren’t too many abilities to remember, and they should be able to play without much intervention.
For playing with a group of all grown-ups, I actually really thought this game was the perfect balance for a family. The mechanics are not too complicated for kids who have some basic math and reading skills, but they’re also just complicated enough for older kids or adults to feel like they have some customization and can strategize a bit. It was really well-rounded, and is what I would definitely call a true all-age game for that reason.
Babies and Broadswords is set in an orphanage for tykes of an arcane or mythical nature. There’s the weird staff, the old building, and the team of little ones that come along with that setting to make for some fun adventures and plot hooks.
This is also easily outfitable to other homebrew settings because it doesn’t specify particular origins or place restrictions on the flavor of much of the content. I could also see this easily be shifted into playing out of a daycare on a starship (think Star Trek daycare shenanigans!) or being at a daycare for the kids of superheroes.
Your character is a ~4ish year old little one who is just out to have fun or to deal with the problems faced by a group of kiddos.
You pick your class from the list (which is hilarious by the way…) and then can choose your character’s origin for flavor (this can be ANYTHING you want and has no features tied to it). You also pick certain knacks and quirks that give you some additional abilities, add some challenges, and provide building blocks for your character’s personality.
In the game we played, I was a Barbabyian (that’s spelled correctly because… barbarian baby!) werewolf who would fly into a temper tantrum rage! Other players were Ricky the Sneaky Pants zombie raccoon (inspired by some pre-game discussions) and Daikini, a little Thortherer wrapped in a safety blanket (who was totally NOT a jawa).
And here is my character sheet! (also note – this is form fillable, which is really nice to be able to prep and print)
Our stats were determined by our classes, and everything else was chaotic awesomeness! The suggestions for character traits were great and facilitated SO much RP, and the flexibility in picking your character’s origins added some amazing variety and creativity. This game was very character focused, and it was GREAT.
Stats and “health”:
When picking your stats, you follow an array input for your three stats: adventurousness, precociousness, and cuteness. I liked this because first, it simplified character creation a little bit AND because it means that you don’t have one of the kids you’re playing with rolling really low and ending up with a stinker set of stats. It guarantees a bit of fairness between your players.
The second part to this is that there is some variation introduced when rolling for your “health”. Instead of one health pool, you have a pool for each of the three stats. These are called ouchies, grumps, and tummy aches. For these, you add your stat modifier for the respective health pool and roll a d6 to add to them. This introduces some variation to the character while keeping things fairly simple. It also really promotes teamwork because everyone will have that one low stat from the first part of this, so the players will need to cover each other to make it through scenarios.
With the health discussion, I do also want to know, there’s no permanent damage here – if ever an ouchies, grumps, or tummy aches score gets to zero, the kiddos will get back into the game after getting help from a friend or the group of crabby and tired toddlers taking a nice nap.
Each character starts with some cookies! These cookies are used to activate your character’s special abilities. For example, if I want my barbabyian to go into a tantrum, they’ve got to chomp a couple cookies first.
I thought this was a GREAT mechanic to give an easy way to limit spamming abilities without making things too complicated. It’s like spell slots or adrenaline or ki or any other tracking mechanism, but everyone uses the same word, so it’s easy to translate across different character builds.
It is also super cute and makes total sense. You can find cookies on your adventure, I imagine that’s the primary currency in an orphanage or daycare, and… if you’ve ever seen Rugrats and know who Angelica is… that was running through my head whenever cookies were mentioned.
Combat was a lot of fun and very dynamic. For the game I played in, I think we ALMOST had to face the janitor and were able to just sneak by, but… we did need to face what lurked in the orphanage bathroom… and it was hilarious!
All rolls are contested rolls between you and your opponent, so you are rolling against each other and adding your stats. This was pretty easy to track and meant you only really needed to watch your big three stats and didn’t need to also track an armor or defense score on top of that.
I also loved how the turns and ranges were broken down.
For your turn, you get to do a big thing, a little thing, and a moving thing. The language is simple but super clear! Whether something is a big or little thing is noted on your abilities, and moving is pretty self-explanatory. I think this is really key to being able to understand combat for that all-ages target.
For ranges, you have flailing range (close combat), spitting range (mid-range), and flinging range (long distance) positions and interactions. Again, this was pretty clear, and I was immediately able to understand what these were without having to really use numbers to make it meaningful.
Babies and Broadswords was a blast! The game was easy to jump into but had enough material that I felt I had made a character that could and should be played for a possible campaign. The rules were just complex enough, and the setting was an amazing nostalgia hit. It was great for a fun grown-ups game, and I believe it would translate well to a table of kids too!
To top that off, the Babies and Broadswords team that I played with was a great group to chat with since we all have kids of different ages involved in TTRPG’s, and they brought a ton of joy and humor to the game. I really enjoyed the game we played, and I am happy that this fun and dynamic group has made such a wonderful game together.
Where to find a copy:
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, tried the game because of this post, or have played this game before!