My kids are on a My Little Pony kick, so this Hero Kids Adventure: Glade of the Unicorn perfectly fit the bill. It features a unicorn in need, some evil goblins and wolves, and a quest to save her. With just a few tweaks the unicorn Alethia became Princess Celestia, the spear became an element of harmony, the Darkenwold Woods became the Everfree Forest, the goblins became diamond dogs, the wolves became timber wolves, and with our miniature ponies collection we were off and, uh, trotting. My 3-year-old and 6-year-old were excited to play.
This scenario, like all the adventures in the Hero Kids series, is entirely self-contained. It includes paper miniatures, battle grids and maps, and scales up the adventure depending on how many children will be playing. It even places the monsters on the maps. Each encounter is straightforward, leading to a branching path determined by the children.
Although Hero Kids is theoretically for kids ages 4 through 10, the scenario is decidedly adult. Our kids have to save a wounded unicorn by retrieving a cursed spear from a goblin clan, dipping it in a holy spring, and bringing it back to the unicorn. The encounters include one role-play encounter in which the kids have to prove that they are "worthy" of the sacred spring; one with wolves (if they get lost); and three goblin encounters in which the goblins stage a running battle inside a ruined fortress.
My kids' characters got lost along the way and ended up encountering the timberwolves; once defeated, I had them turn into a dire timberwolf. They eventually found the sacred spring, which is the sole role-playing encounter. Here's the description:
You emerge from the dank and oppressive woods into a tranquil clearing that is dappled with soft sunlight. A mossy rock cliff rises straight up on far side of the clearing. At the bottom of the cliff is a still pool, a thick mist blankets the pool, wafted and stirred by a cool breeze.
I started to read this and then gave up. "Oppressive"? "Dappled"? "Wafted"? I don't mind stretching my kids' vocabulary, but the text (dripping with adjectives for every single noun) is way over my six-year-old's head, and he reads quite well for his age.
This encounter is intentionally left vague -- the game master's job is "to coax from the heroes a statement of their worthiness." This can be a frustrating exercise if the GM doesn't know what that is. I pretty much took whatever my kids were willing to share (in this case, a tentative explanation of why Princess Celestia needs the Elements of Harmony.
The subsequent battles are a fight to the finish to retrieve the object and save the unicorn. Despite the combat challenges, both kids were engaged for the entire adventure and agreed to play more. This might have something to do with the fact that they were playing with the ponies they know from the show (including characters they haven't seen yet), but I like to think that at least some of it was due the structure of the scenario.
Overall, this scenario is a standard dungeon crawl written for kids closer to ten-years-old. Younger kids might not be as excited about the relentless combat and have difficulty with the larger words.
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