It’s inevitable. DM long enough, and kids will crop up in your adventure. They’ll either need to be rescued from a trap or a villain, one decides to tag along for protection or curiosity, or like Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street Boys, you’ll come to rely upon a gang of them to run errands and gather information.
So it’s a good idea to have some standard children rolled up. Not many, just a few that can be plugged in as needed.
Stats for children, of course, are problematic. Children are (generally speaking) more fragile than adults. And in D&D terms, if a first-level wizard clocks in at a frail 1d4 hit points, what’s the average school age kid going to be by comparison?
Here are some quick pointers for rolling up kids.
Starting ability scores
Roll 3d6, arrange as desired. This pulls the numbers out of the heroic class range.
Apply racial adjustments
Keep in mind the 100-year-old elf, who is still an adolescent in elfen society. That’s a long time to deal with acne and angst.
Turn the Aging Effects Chart around
Adjust the starting abilities, by treating Adolescents as Middle Age (–1 to Str, Con, and Int; +1 to Dex, Wis and Cha); Preteens as Old (–2/+2 adjustments); and Children as Venerable (–3/+3 adjustments). I’ve moved Int to the penalty category, though, because kids aren’t “smarter” as toddlers than they are as preteens. They may learn things at a faster rate, but high Int scores will make for a maddening skills selection process. Dex, Wis and Cha are OK to get boosts. The boosts on Reflex and Will saves reflects the assumption that kids are just plain lucky at times, and they’re certainly nimble-fingered and cuter at a young age.
Adjust size categories
Adolescents can remain at the same size as adults, but make Preteens and Children one size category smaller. So human preteens and children would be treated as Small, while halfing and gnome children would be treated as Tiny.
Pick an NPC class
The apprentice-level class adjustments is a good way to emulate classes for Adolescents. But NPC classes work best, I think. Warriors serve for kids in street gangs, Experts work for any child being trained in a craft, trade or profession, Aristocrat fits those whose parents are rich or a part of the nobility and Adepts for dabblers in magic or church acolytes. For the youngest children, Commoner is just fine. As for hit points, strange as it may seem, it might be OK if a child has more hit points than the average wizard (who should have spent more time running and playing with the other kids, anyway).
Select skills and feats
For simplicity’s sake, avoid cross-class skills and use the saving throw buff feats, such as Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will and Great Fortitude, or Skill Focus. But don’t overlook a feat that makes sense, say a warrior-in-training who picks up Weapon Focus or Point Blank Shot.
Have you used children in your D&D games successfully? If so, I’d love to hear how you handled it, especially if your approach is different, and more importantly, if it’s simpler. Because dealing with the 100-year-old elf is difficult enough without worrying about who they are dating and what their stats are.