Can an 11 Year Old Play D&D? 5 Tips to Get Them Hooked on Tabletop

Yes! I’ve put together five tips to get them started. Eleven years old is just about the perfect time to introduce a boy or girl to Dungeons & Dragons. By this age, they’ve played a lot of games. They’ve been on the playground. They’ve had experience in team sports and solo play. They’ve made friends, joined clubs, and experienced most of what life has to offer outside of the home. Nevertheless, it’s a big step to introduce role-playing games, tabletop games, and make believe games in general to a child.

In this article, I’ll lay out five tips for parents, friends, or adults with the intention of letting their 11 year old play D&D or Pathfinder.

At what age can kids play D&D?

Simple answer? Around 12 years old. However, if the kid in question has read the hobbit or is into fantasy, there’s a good chance someone as young as 10 years old can understand, play, and enjoy D&D. Emphasis on having fun!

5 Tips to Teach an 11 Year Old D&D

Here’s my twelve tips.

1 – Take The Time To Explain The Game

When you first introduce your 11 year old to Dungeons & Dragons, don’t just say, “Here it is. There’s some dice. Have fun.” For most kids, the idea of rolling dice, even a pair of six sided dice, is exciting. However, you want to explain the game in a way they will understand.

To explain D&D to an eleven year old, say something like, “I’ve invited you over to play a game. It’s called Dungeons & Dragons. We’re going to role-play that we’re adventuring together. At some points in the story, we will have to roll dice in order to see if our characters succeed or fail.”

“You will be playing a character that you create. I’m going to be playing a character that I create. We will be adventuring together. As we adventure, you will want your character to be successful. So, when your character faces challenges like swinging across a ravine on a rope, you will want your character to succeed.”

And so on. Keep it simple and keep on explaining. You don’t have to go into great detail, but the concept of role-playing a character and rolling dice to see if your character succeeds or fails should be the takeaway.

2 – Help Them Roll Up Their Own Character

While a DM can hand out pre-made adventurers, especially if someone’s new, it’s a good idea to take an eleven year old through the process. By helping them create a character on their own, they’ll become invested in this person they’re playing.

Before they even get to the table, let them configure their character. Talk about how to pick classes, race, and backgrounds. Make a big deal out of the character creation process. Take the time to get to know your character together.

Then when you finish character creation and it’s time to play, ask them what they would like to do.

3 – Play A Light-Hearted Game

An eleven year old will have a great time playing a light-hearted game. There’s no need to settle into a campaign that’s going to last for years. Instead, make it a series of one shots or maybe a mini-campaign that’s only a few sessions long.

It will be enough for them to get a taste for role-playing games. By the time you finish, they may be ready for the next step up.

4 – Make It Your Own

It’s your table, your game, and you should play the game you want to play. If you can play a published adventure, that’s great. However, if you’ve got an eleven year old boy or girl, why not let them in on the action?

Let them walk around your table. If a player character makes you roll an athletics check to see if they can climb a rope, say as an DM, “Well, I’ll let you role-play it.” Give the player a chance to make it happen.

If the player fails, then you can say something like, “You’re exhibiting poor form. Try again.”

The same goes for combat. If they’re trying to make it across a room full of orcs and you want to roll initiative to determine who goes first, it’s okay to sometimes fudge the rules. Notice I said sometimes.

In short, if you’re playing with an eleven year old, don’t be a stickler. Let them feel like they’re in control of their character, that they’re responsible for what happens. This will help them have a good experience with tabletop games.

5 – Encourage Them To Learn RPG Etiquette

This is an important tip. If you’re playing at your house, you need to establish a few rules for the kid. Learning about RPG etiquette will set the tone from the start.

Here are a few rules to consider.

  1. Stay in character. In other words, don’t talk about school when you’re in the middle of a dungeon. You’re a dungeon delver.
  2. Don’t argue with the DM. If the DM says something is true, it’s true. If the DM says you can’t climb the wall to the next room, then you can’t.
  3. Don’t interrupt the player. If the DM says, “It’s your turn,” your turn starts when the DM stops talking.
  4. Follow instructions. If the DM says you’re invisible, then you’re invisible. If the DM says you can’t see the dragon until he attacks you, then you can’t see the dragon until he attacks you.
  5. No one likes a know-it-all. Use your best judgement, but it’s not cool to try to prove the DM wrong. If you do, you’ll get a reputation for being disruptive.
  6. Don’t cheat. If you don’t like the way the dice are rolling, don’t roll them twice.
  7. Improvising is good. However, use your best judgement. If you’re improvising and you think what you’re doing is okay, ask the DM. If it’s something the DM doesn’t like, then drop it.
  8. Take turns. As a DM, if you’re waiting for your eleven year old player to finish with their turn, keep the conversation going. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them what they’re feeling.
  9. Use your common sense. If it’s not in character to pick a pocket, then don’t do it. If it’s not in character to go swimming in a suit of plate mail, then don’t do it.
  10. Be invested. If you’re interested in your character and their success, then the other players will be too.

Conclusion

Can an 11 Year Old Play D&D? The answer is clearly yes. In fact, teaching a child how to play an RPG at this age can be a lot of fun. This is the perfect time to introduce them to Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder.

Best of all, they’ll get the full role-playing experience. By the time they’re 16 or 17, they’ll be pros who might be leading their own adventures as Dungeon Masters. Overall, taking the time to teach an 11 year old how to play Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder can be a lot of fun.

Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.

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