Recently on holiday in France, I was looking for something to do with the kids. For some reason, every damn bit of writing paper I could find in French supermarkets had squares on it instead of lines. Squared paper always makes me think of pen&paper RPGs. So I made up a silly little RPG for them, played on a single sheet of A4 paper. It was a big hit.

This weekend, I happened to have some time, and it occurred to try this again but with a little arts & crafts thrown in - I made little tokens and the kids coloured them in (or helped - K made a bunch of the little hearts and coins you’ll see below).

The game is very simple: while Princess Peach and Boulder Dwarf (P picked the name himself, I swear) are having a picnic, the Evil King sends his Goblin minions to steal all of the gold from the village. The villagers beg our intrepid adventurers to recover it from the King’s castle. So, they have to fight their way through the woods, into the castle, and defeat the king - picking up gold and magic potions to help them on their way.

Here we are playing. P and K are to the left and are 3 and 5 years old respectively.

A picture of all of us playing the game together.

No RPG is complete without character sheets. Each character has 6 lives and two powers they can use to do damage or move around (or both). The number beside the power is what the player has to roll to succeed.

A picture of the game's simple, colourful character sheets.

The game master’s tokens include the Evil King himself, his Dark Clouds of Evil, the Goblins and their arrows, and of course treasure: potions and the gold taken from the poor villagers.

A picture of the non-player game tokens - the Evil King, his minions, treasure, etc.

The game is played with A4 sheets as “tiles”, with movement basically completely fudged. Combat takes place in turns, with each player and the monsters rolling a d6 to decide initiative order (highest wins). Here we can see that Princess Peach has been missed by an arrow and missed once with her fireball, while poor Boulder Dwarf has taken an arrow to the knee and missed once, but finally crushed a Goblin with his second shot.

A picture of all of us playing the game together.

A closer view of the action inside the castle. Princess Peach actually used her Teleport power to get past the gate, which impressed the hell out of me - I had planned to just have them knock it down. K said “if I hold hands with Boulder Dwarf, can we teleport past it?”

A picture of all of us playing the game together.

The full set of tiles. They battled their way through the forest and explored the castle before defeating the Evil King.

A picture of all of us playing the game together.

I was blown away by how much the kids enjoyed this. They even got into the roleplaying side of it too: while for Boulder Dwarf that tended towards shouting about how he was going to crush things with his boulders, Princess Peach made several rousing speeches against the Evil King.

I suspect we’ll be making a little campaign of this.