Most RPG board games are very complex. Some have in depth stories that must be followed, others require dungeon masters that would otherwise be a player of the game, and if you haven't played recently then relearning the rules can take an hour. (One exception I'd like to point out is the Dungeons & Dragons "Dungeon!" game. Simple rules, easy to play, and even supports single player. Still too difficult for very young, but it's a solid game.)
I played many of these board games with my young son using VERY simplified rules, but even then those rules were quickly thrown out the window and the game lost all its structure. I wanted a game we could really play together. Giving up buying one, I developed my own with very young RPGers in mind but still interesting enough for those older playing with them.
The game was originally tested with my 3 year old, and to my wife and I's astonishment we all actually followed the rules and he loved playing it! And it had an educational aspect to it as well - attacks involve rolling 2 dice so my son had to add up his dice rolls. Sometimes that involved him counting the little black dots but occasionally he could answer by memory right away (learning by sheer repetition).
Some key aspects to making the game accessible by a younger audience:
- Rules so simple they could be written on the game board itself - no separate instruction manual.
- Just a few components: the board game, two standard 6-sided dice, two types of cards, and a handful of tokens to represent character positions.
- I like the idea of branching paths, but from much playtesting we learned it does not work well with very young players - so there is a single path to follow.
We still play the prototype to make tweaks (it has quite a few more marks now than these photos below show), but we're in the process of making it a bit more "professional". There are board game manufacturers where you upload your drawings and they deliver you a high quality printed game. Our next step is beefing up the art-work and then getting it printed!
Prototype Game Board