Scouts and D&D

Mechanics

It’s hard to play a game like Dungeons and Dragons at camp. Camp gets wet, and so do character sheets. Camp gets muddy and dirty, so do miniatures and game mats. Most importantly, younger Scouts aren’t always as keen on writing everything down and moving miniatures around as older, more experienced players. What my troop has done for these problems is remove a lot of the complexity surrounding the game. We don’t use character sheets. Instead, we have each player pick a race and a class, solely for roleplaying. The DM decides what each class gets at the beginning (for example, a wizard might start off with Magic Missile or Fireball, and a rogue might start off with a crossbow or knife). Dice are rolled in something from a Scout’s mess kit, and it’s rare to use a die other than a d20.

“No character sheets? High level spells to low level characters? That doesn’t sound like D&D at all!” I know, that seems like a really oversimplified version of the game. The point of getting rid of all those extra dice and complications is to make the game more accessible to a younger audience.

Adventures

It’s usually a good idea to try and find some one-shot adventures with a simple plot. One of the ones I can usually fall back on is “Beneath the Ruins of Firestone Keep” from DriveThruRPG. I managed to get it on sale, but it’s a well-written adventure that you can use to ease new Scouts into the game. An alternative is, as always, to write your own adventure. For this, don’t make the plot too complex. It should be fairly simple, especially for young Scouts. Dungeons and other locations should all be able to fit in a small notebook, with minimal notes.

Whether you use a premade module or opt for the homebrew route, all the components of the adventure, like traps and monsters, are defeated or bypassed mostly when the DM feels like it. For traps, I usually pick a DC of around 10 to 15. Monsters are defeated when I feel that the players have expended enough effort to defeat it. This leads to less time spent messing with papers and statblocks and more time spent engaging the Scouts.

Conclusion

In general, the goal of introducing Scouts to Dungeons and Dragons should be to ease them in, with minimal complexity. By eliminating character sheets, most dice, and using simple adventures, the game can be made a bit more engaging for them. This can be made into a great activity for the trail too. Take a cup and use it for dice, and play the game like that. That’s how I’ve gotten through a lot of Scout hikes, and it’s a good way to keep Scouts entertained.

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