The Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9

The Forest Dragon By Rory Age 9 is a fun game of testing your luck and risking everything on the turn of a card.

Dare you explore the forest? It’s full of things you need, and there is treasure to be found. But beware! The forest is also full of monsters!
• Will you meet the Forest Dragon?
• Will you have a sword in your hand when you do?
• Will you find a Golden Coins, a Witch Bottle, or just some Acorns?
• Will you encounter an Adder Crow, the Bandit King, or a Hungry Ghost?
• How far into the forest dare you go? And what even is Ghost Milk? (honestly I don’t know, and I’ve asked)
In The Forest Dragon you will create a fantasy world from cards, and then explore it.

With amazing art from Rory and his little brother Ben, and with just a little help from their dad, games-industry veteran Jon Hodgson, The Forest Dragon games are fast and exciting fun for the whole family!

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The rules

Download the rules for the latest edition of The Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9 here.

Or grab the printer friendly version here.

How to play

Our story

Our house is full of games. So it was no surprise when Rory, age 7 announced he wanted to be a games designer.

What was a surprise was when he told us he had already invented a game. He then proceeded to tell us all the rules from the back seat of the car. Practically in one breath. And it sounded like a game that might really work.

When Rory told us the rules of his game, we really felt he was on to something special. And so we ordered some blank cards, and made a prototype. 

The game worked! And it was a lot of fun. 

It has simple rules, and in game-design terms it abstracts a whole bunch of processes into a series of very straight forward player interactions. It’s really quite clever.

The Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9 began life as a card game based in the world of a well-known block building game. We were truly impressed by how Rory managed to capture so much of the game experience in a very simple set of interactions. You head out from a base, you collect resources, you try to avoid monsters, you occasionally find cool stuff, and you get ahead if you do well. If you go too far, then things go badly for you. It was a really smart piece of design. I work with a lot of grown-up designers who couldn’t have captured the essentials of a game experience so neatly.

We were simply not in a position to license such a well known property, but we didn’t let that stop us, so we headed in a different direction, making an adventure game in a fantasy world all our own.

“My kids make up some truly wonderful stuff, and I try to record as much of it as I can. When they come up with a monster, or character, I’ll write it down. And that’s the collection of things you’ll find in the deck of The Forest Dragon. We don’t know exactly what everything you’ll find in the game is – but we hope it will spark everyone’s imagination!” 

– Jon, the Designer’s Dad

Since making the first prototype two years ago we’ve played it with friends of all ages, and a bunch of games industry professionals. And everyone has had fun!

We’ve added a few bits here and there, and we discussed how to make it the best game it could be, revised, reworked, but to this day, the core of the game is the same as it was the day he explained it in one go.

We took the game to Kickstarter in 2017, and it did really well!

The original Kickstarter video for The Forest Dragon


The Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9 was the recipient of two awards on initial release: The Imagination Gaming Young Einstein Gold Award, and The Imagination Gaming Silver Award for Family Game.

Follow our updates at The Forest Dragon Facebook Page.

Don’t just take our word for it, here are some thoughts from players about The Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9

“The Forest Dragon is a precious thing, an experience Jon Hodgson and his son Rory will treasure for years to come. And it’s a fine game to boot! We’re so lucky they decided to share it with us.” – Francesco Nepitello, game designer

“The Forest Dragon is as indispensable as wet wipes and snacks, and occupies a permanent place in my ‘leaving the house with the kids’ bag.” – Gareth Ryder Hanrahan, author, game designer 

“If you’ve ever experienced wonder while wandering and exploring, the Forest Dragon contains that excitement in a conveniently-carried, child-friendly card game.” – Jacob Rodgers, game designer

“It’s very easy to pick up and play the game, with enough depth in the game to keep kids of all ages entertained. At its heart, there’s a marvelous whimsical adventure, which had my pair (an 8 and 11-year-old) coming back for more. I knew I was onto a winner when they were picking up the cards and having games without me 🙂 ” – Newt Newport, game designer

“The most nutritious cardgame I have ever eaten!” – Patric Götz, game publisher 

“Our Forest Dragon card game has (literally) been to the base of Mount Doom and to Hobbiton, entertained plenty of adults and children along the trek and is an absolute joy to play.” – Scott Purdy, artist

“It’s not a good game because it was written by a kid; it’s a good game because it’s a good game.” – Jared Earle, writer, photographer

“It’s an awesome game which my kids love playing! Especially when they beat me at it!” – Gordon Kennedy, game artist

With its bright colors, fun illustrations, and easy rules, The Forest Dragon became a fast favorite in our house. It is quick enough to learn to hold my children’s attention and fun enough to appeal to adults as well.” – August Hahn, game designer

“This game is amazing. I like stealing items from my family, especially my brother. We usually play with the whole pack to make the game really long and exciting, and my favourite bit is the Poo Portal!” – Milla aged 7.

“Both enchanting and hilarious, this simple-but-fun card game is already a favourite in our house. The artwork is delightful. The Poo Cave Expansion is essential. We’ve played it with small people and with my eighty-year-old parents. It’s a winner with everyone. Gutted we missed out on Clarinetto.” – Claire Longhurst, gamer

So good I wrote a review of it”  – Pookie, game reviewer

“It’s funny and my wife likes it” – Adam Littlefield, musician

I’ve so far only played it with adults, but they all loved it (and it wasn’t too complicated for them) ?” Andrew Peregrine, game designer

Fantastic game. My kids have racked up over 200 hours playing this game. A family favourite that never get old! Highly recommended.” – Wayne McNamara, gamer

“Such a simple game and great fun to play. That said, I’ve yet to win a game against my eight year old and his friends!” -Tom Cusworth, gamer

“The Forest Dragon is a great game. Attractive to look at, simple enough to play as soon as the box is open, but with enough variety to repay any number of repeat plays. And the monsters are very cool.” – Matt Cambridge, writer

The follow up to The Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9 is The Forest Dragon Bang & Twang.