The kids are having great fun as we moved into this next phase with dungeon crawls.
They have had characters take total beatdowns with only my good graces preventing Total Party Kill (TPK). Accordingly, I have increased the treasure commensurate to the risks.
The combination of more intense battles and more and better rewards is providing for some major fun games.
However, I have been perhaps over-lenient in dealing with character deaths in favor of trying to teach them the basic mechanics of the game.
As of the game they are currently in, this has changed and wow what an effect on the game.
One PC didn't take advice to make use of their thief skills and wound up getting shot by a poison arrow from a trapped door. Not only did she take the damage from the arrow, but is slowly dying from poison in a dungeon they will not get out of soon enough to save her.
Not only that, there are no clerics, etc anywhere nearby to be of any use to her.
The more active the character is, the more she speeds the poison through her system, thus ending her life even faster.
This has added a whole new dimension to the game for the players, even those who are not facing permanent, imminent PC death.
Mind you, these are kids between ages 9 and 12 years old. I am intentionally playing with "kid gloves" on, so to speak.
They are learning the value of a strategic retreat when out-numbered or plain over-powered.
They are learning to look before you leap.
They are learning that not everything, or everyone, is what it seems on the surface.
And now they are learning that even powerful spell casters and mighty warriors can be brought low by things they never bothered to consider.
All in a game.