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Age target: All ages (depends on mechanics adjustment)
The Grandmother Tree is a D&D adventure that is specifically made for kids. While combat is allowed, there’s no killing, and alternatives to combat are offered and encouraged, or combat is with, say, some angry cookies. The adventure instead focuses on exploring, figuring out traps, and helping others.
For mechanics, it uses D&D 5e, but there’s suggestions at the end for running with kids, and even a book recommendation (that I very much want to check out myself) to help make the overall game accessible to kids.
Setting for The Grandmother Tree:
The Grandmother Tree is set in a magical forest and follows the players through a wyrmling’s tree house as the party tries to recover a lost backpack for an NPC gnome named Max. The adventures through the tree house lead them through a trap, some chaotic delicious cookies, a disheveled library and more as they make their way to the top.
The setting was very cute, and kiddo was very interested – we actually started out with him not wanting to play, so I started reading the prompts “out loud to myself” in another room…. as he peeked around to listen. It didn’t take long for him to ask if he could join, and we had a really good time with this! It was a great hook, and, honestly, the perfect length for keeping him engaged.
Your character in The Grandmother Tree:
Your character is built from D&D 5e mechanics and highly recommends letting kids make their character (they may not be so interested in the mechanics, but I agree that they will be interested in the character) versus using a pre-made sheet. There are also lots of options that I’ve tried out before (here, here, here) that can be applied to make the mechanics portion of character building a bit easier for kids, so it shouldn’t be a barrier.
The tips that are suggested at the end of The Grandmother Tree are great for helping with making an accessible character and keeping the game open to play with kids.
Mechanics beyond D&D 5e:
In The Grandmother Tree, during the final confrontation, there’s an option to play some mini-games instead of doing combat! I thought this was really cute! They are games that children can definitely play (like a talent show, which is what we rolled) to give some variation besides just talking when it comes to combat alternatives.
I liked that there was both a table to roll from so kids who love to roll dice aren’t feeling left out when combat is passed up and because it introduces some randomization for the encounter. There’s explanations of all the games too, so it doesn’t assume that you’ve played them before, and it also adds some information (like a DC for the talent show) to tie it into the core D&D mechanics.
5e modifications for kids
The Grandmother Tree is an adventure, so it doesn’t have a unique base SRD, however, it does recommend several awesome modifications to help with accessibility. From character modifications to dice simplifications, it does bring to the table great points to help with gearing the core game to kids so the kid-focused adventure can be framed with mechanics that are appropriate for your particular kids.
What did my kid think of The Grandmother Tree?
Kiddo loved the story! We played with modified 5e mechanics (taking some tips from the Family Fantasy games), so it was with a familiar set of rules, and had a great time playing out this adventure. He particularly enjoyed the encounter with the cookies and playing with Callie, the wyrmling, at the end.
Like I said earlier, we started out with him not so much in the mood for a game, but once I started reading it out loud, he was quickly hooked by the story and jumped in to have a good time playing together.
Overall impression of The Grandmother Tree:
The Grandmother Tree is a fun and cute adventure with great tips for playing with kids, and it is a great entry point for people looking to start TTRPG’s with their children. This story could be used with other systems very easily to provide a positive and playful quest for kids to join in, and it’s a great opportunity for some family (or classroom) play and bonding time! I hope you get to enjoy this game too!
Where to find a copy of The Grandmother Tree:
The Grandmother Tree can be found on DM’s Guild! Go check it out!
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or decide to try out this game because of this post!