I (35M) own a game store and host board game/D&D nights three times a week. I've set up a few tables in the back for people to come in and play games, along with a small 'kitchen'—really just a fridge, microwave, sink, and cupboard—so players can enjoy snacks and drinks.
One of the regular groups has been playing D&D in my store every week for the past three years, and I've occasionally joined them as a guest player. It's always been great fun. About a year ago, they had to find a new DM because their usual one couldn't dedicate time to preparing campaigns. During the search, they continued coming in weekly but played regular board games instead.
A few months ago, a 10-year-old girl (let's call her Emma for convenience) and her mother showed up at one of the game nights. According to her mother, Emma had spent months preparing materials for playing D&D but didn't know anyone to play with. So, her mother asked if it was okay for her to inquire at my store if anyone would be willing to play.
The regular group gladly joined in for a session, and it went so well that they invited Emma to DM regularly if she wanted to. Fast forward to now, and Emma is DMing two days a week—one for the regular group and one for one-off sessions where others can jump in.
This girl is a genius; she has memorized the entire player's handbook and monster guide, and she's crafted a fully homebrew campaign that's genuinely fun and exciting (though sometimes surprisingly dark).
Now, here's the issue. Some people have started complaining about having a child on game nights, stating that they play here specifically because they have children at home. With Emma around, they feel constrained in their usual gaming style, worrying about inappropriate language or jokes in the presence of a child.
I explained to them that I never specified a child-free space, so I won't be banning Emma from coming. If they don't like it, I'm sorry, but they're welcome to plan their nights on days when Emma isn't there or find another place to play. I did inform Emma's mother that Emma is only allowed to be here as long as one of her parents is also present—I'm not taking any risks.
AITA for not banning children from game nights and telling people to basically suck it up?
OP answered some comments:
I thought you were going to say there were children coming in and being disruptive, which would have been unreasonable to allow. Emma sounds absolutely great, and like she's actually adding value to the game.
Of course, she's in what's fundamentally an adult space, and her parents need to respect that. Do her parents actually mind if the adults have a beer or swear in front of her? NTA.
Her parents actually don't mind at all. Her mother told me Emma is smart enough to know what words she should and shouldn't use herself regardless of other people's usage, and that alcohol isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as it's being drunk in moderation.
I. Love. Emma. I love that OP and the regular group have welcomed her when she didn’t have anyone else to play with. I feel bad for the kids of the other group whose parents apparent don’t seem to like them. NTA.
It's been great fun having her around. The regular group has even started pitching in so Emma can buy miniatures and map-props to create battle maps and arenas for their games.
I admit I'm curious what kind of encounter a 10 year old comes up with. Have you eavesdropped on her games? Feel comfortable telling us?
One instance I personally got really interested in was when it was revealed that the guy the group had been helping in the city had actually been killed and replaced by a doppelganger three sessions in.
None of the group ended up passing the checks to discover it, so after many sessions it turned out that instead of them helping the city get into a better position, they instead unknowingly helped the doppelganger set up his takeover of the city.
They had taken out political figures, nobility, guard captains etc. that the doppelganger had claimed were corrupt, when instead those were the ones that were innocent. I believe they're still dealing with the aftermath from that.
What do you think? Should OP have listened to his customers?