Playing with Youngers: Side-by-Side, Older + Younger

This orc has yet to internalize the first rule of travel: Sacks in the middle of the road are likely traps set by PCs.

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Often times you’ll have kids of different ages playing together. This was the case when I was running games at summer camp. Seven year olds are playing, which attracts the eights and nines and maybe one of the seven’s older brothers who’s twelve and so on.

Maybe you have two kids of your own who AREN’T twins. Likely.

Having kids of different ages can be tough. Just in general, but there are unique challenges in role-playing games.

Because Youngers are more likely to suggest impossible things, they don’t need as high of a mechanical challenge as Olders. Moving Youngers from “okay, well that’s incredibly impossible” to “well, that could work, let’s roll some dice.” is a big step. To support this, we GMs can make that roll more likely on average.

On the other side, Olders are more likely to come up with smarter plans by themselves but exclude the youngers. Younger siblings/kids can be seen as a nuisance by older players. Just the way it works some times.

So, here’s the idea: make rolls easier for youngers to encourage plans that are possible and give olders a reason to include youngers in their plans.

Let’s use a number that kids use a lot already.

I already mentioned it, but you just read right over it:


For those from ages 3 to 18:

When a player attempts something that is uncertain, they roll a d20. If the number is their age or higher, they succeed. Otherwise, something bad happens.


  • Younger players have an easier time rolling. Coming up with a plan that is possible (see also: within the realm of rolling) is the goal here.
  • Older players are challenged more. Coming up with a plan that is certain (see also: requires no rolling) is the goal here.
  • If plans do roll dice, olders are incentivized to make youngers enact the plan instead of themselves. Younger players are literally more likely to succeed.
  • Youngers get to feel great for DOING.
  • Olders get to feel great for THINKING.

As we get older, there is also a better appreciation for seeing others succeed. Helping people out, you know? Let’s nurture that in older players.

Include a young player in a game this month. Sons, daughters, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandkids.

I hope this Playing with Youngers series has shown you that it can be incredibly rewarding.

6 thoughts on “Playing with Youngers: Side-by-Side, Older + Younger

  1. This is a great idea. Although I love negotiating with the youngest player to come up with something that kinda make sense but still retains some of the original craziness. This is how you end up with a young mouse trying to disguise herself as a kitten and interrogate the terrifying cat lord while her older brother stays hidden because he is too scared to do anything.

  2. Keep these playing with youngers coming! I’ve got a 10 and 12 y/o and a 5 y/o so these ideas are awesome for our games. Thank you!

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