Somebody wondered what to play with their kids. They said: “even simple D&D is complex … They want gratification with minimal effort.” Fair enough! So do I. 😅
I’d suggest Lasers & Feelings, or variants thereof. There are super simple: you have two stats that are connected: lasers or feelings, sorcerer or sellsword, and you pick a number between 2 and 5 for where you are on the scale between the two. Thus, if you are Spock, pick 5. On a test, roll a d6 and see on which side it lands on: for Spock, a result of 1–4 means a success when using lasers, a result of 6 means a success when using feelings, and a result of 5 means you get a special insight. There are many variants of this game, they vary in the two attributes they pick, and the adventure and setting guidelines. Most of them are one page affairs.
If the kids are older and they want D&D, switch to a version from the eighties: Moldvay’s Basic D&D, or Old School Essentials, or Basic Fantasy RPG. These games have elves, dwarves, halflings, magic users, fighters, thieves, red dragons, orcs, a cover showing a dragon, Moldvay’s Basic D&D even says Dungeons & Dragons on the cover, and all of them are simpler than D&D 5E.
If it doesn’t have to be D&D, then use something like Lady Blackbird, or Classic Traveller.
Lady Blackbird has single page character sheets that include all of the rules, and premade characters, and some adventure suggestions. Just keep adding to the setting and you should be good to go for a long campaign, or run a tight ship and you can play through it in one session. Up to you.
Classic Traveller is the classic sandbox: generate a subsector, think of some patrons and quests, factions, enemies and potential allies, and go.
What do you or would you play with kids?
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Hex Describe is particularly well suited for classic D&D and old school variants like Moldvay’s Basic D&D, Old School Essentials, or Halberds & Helmets.