Edited by Michael Hansen
First Fable is a roleplaying game tailored specifically to children around the age of 6. It is designed to be run by a GU (grown-up), who leads the characters through the story and helps the players understand the rules. There are many gamers who are now parents and looking to introduce their children to their roleplaying world. This book is set up to do just that! The wonderful part about this book is that the book is written so even grown-ups who have never done roleplaying games before can pick this up and play it.
The book starts off with the basics of roleplaying and why roleplaying can be beneficial to children. Language, math skills, emotional growth and communication skills are all built up in the process of telling a story. It’s also a safe way for children to work out social situations they may not know how to handle. We, as the GUs (Grown-ups), can help guide a child through situations they may face in school or the playground when we aren't there. I will go into this in more detail later in the review.
Character creation is always the hardest part for new players. So how in the world do you get a 6 year old to make up a character? Well, that is where this system comes into play. There are 4 different character types outlined in the book, all of which are easily identifiable to children: a pirate, a warrior, a fairy princess and an animal keeper. Next, you get to pick any 3 things at which your character shines. They then choose one thing they are not very good at. After that, they can pick one item that does something very special; whether it is an animal that talks or a singing crown, it’s whatever they want. They can play characters that cross the different types of characters. Younger players may want to play themselves, which is fine as well! Challenge older kids to come up with reasons why they have their special items. Remember: always assist children with writing where needed!
The rules for challenges and resolutions are also very simple. D6s (six-sided dice) are used with 4s, 5s, and 6s being winning dice. A challenge is determined as an action that has the chance of changing the story. These actions should always have a dice rolled with an action the player cannot actually do in real life.
Tasks are simple actions that help the story move forward. Most tasks are actions taken by the players that can be accomplished fairly easily. These are storytelling opportunities where the players can give details about what their players are doing.
Special things are actions that involve the use of the unique item they possess. Each item gets stars, which the player can use to accomplish extraordinary tasks. It may also require a dice roll, depending on the action, but it is up to the GU to decide.
This system is one of the simplest starter systems to work with. It is open-ended, so children can pick whatever they want for any of the categories. Some kids may elaborate on their items or abilities, others may keep them simple. Always encourage children to elaborate as best as they can. They may need help with words or actions that they want to do. As a GU, help by asking them questions and helping them find the word they are looking for.
The age group I played with was 4, 5 and 6 – so, the younger end of the spectrum. When creating their characters, all of the kids worked together and helped each other. A couple of the kids were not good with writing, so the older kids helped them. I also had them draw their character. The kids I worked with modeled their characters after themselves. Some used their real names, others used a character name. For their official character sheets, I did write down what they told me, so that I had a reference, but allowed them to keep their original sheets. I ran the starter story in the book, and the kids loved it right from the start. The system for rolling dice was easy enough. With a few reminders, the kids quickly figured out how to roll their dice. The children all waited for each player to make an action, and helped each other with the story. They also helped remind each other what was written on their sheet.
Overall, this book was perfect for younger kids. It was challenging enough to make them think and engaging enough to keep them interested for about an hour, which is long for the younger age groups I worked with. I would recommend this book to parents and teachers alike. Experience in gaming is not necessary, though it may help. Just remember: it is not about the rules but about the story the kids tell.