Thursday, August 26, 2021

Dispel Cynicism

 A few days ago, I realized it had been 6 months, I think, since I participated in roleplaying games in any fashion. I shrugged. Would probably be another six months, or a year, or maybe never. 

At the school I just returned to, I was conscripted into co-sponsoring the board game club. Among the hoard of games we have, there is a 5e Beginner Box or whatever it's called... you know, the one with the Lost Mines of Phandelver in it. At the activity fair, this box drew a lot of attention.  A number of kids were asking about D&D, and even a staff member. 

We had our first meeting last night. Only two of the D&D kids showed up. They'd played things like Elder Scrolls and other CRPGs, but had no idea what D&D was about. Two was hardly enough to start a game, but something made me not want to leave them disappointed. 

I ran the start of Phandelver for them. One picked the human fighter in the box's pre-made posse, one picked the high elf wizard. 

I have no great love for 5e. I think it's "fine," which is not a compliment. You know what was great, though? DMing for two young people who were absolutely fascinated by the game. 

They tried weird shit. One of them wanted to scrape the pitch off of his torches and smear it on a scimitar to make a flaming sword. One wanted to lasso some goblins, mid-combat, with a rope. They searched a slain goblin and compared his arrows to the arrows found in the dead horses in the first encounter, before sagely proclaiming "They must be from the same tribe!" They used stealth and tactics to put a group of goblins to sleep. They threw torches ahead into dark hallways. 

The kid playing the wizard was super into learning about his spells. The kid playing the fighter bravely put himself between goblins, the wizard, and the NPC bumpkin wagon driver. 

It was fucking pure. There was no kvetching about editions and how things used to be. There was no talk about class balance. There were no hobby politics. One kid rolled a critical hit and it was like a miracle to him. 

After we finish Phandelver, we're going to move on to the Essentials box, still wrapped in plastic and rotting away on my shelf along with the rest of my collection of rpg stuff. Then...who knows? Maybe I'll roll out a new campaign for them. 


  1. Spending some time with new blood in the hobby now and then is good for your mental health. They don't have to be actual kids, but if you get to the point where you can't stand the idea of playing with beginners (or even just people you haven't played with before) you're facing a future where your opportunities to play will do nothing but shrink over time.

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  3. Oh yeah, having my kids (and before covid, friends' kids) in my games really helped me to feel good about gaming in a way it hadn't for a while. Glad to hear it helped you, too.

  4. That's great. I bet they'll remember that for a long, long time.

  5. That's pretty awesome stuff. My kids' school is getting ready to start-up again, and I was thinking about the possibility of offering some sort of gaming club now that they're talking about bringing back "enrichment activities" (after school extracurricular programs). Unfortunately, it looks like they will be limiting EAs to outdoor stuff for the time being, and pencil/paper games don't do well in Seattle climate Sept-Jun.

    At least I'll be able to coach soccer this year!
    ; )

    RE Edition Wars & Kids

    I, of course, am heavily biased in this regard (and have written about it often enough, so don't need to wax on about it). Might as well pull out a "dusty copy" of B/X and run the Essential scenarios with it (you'd just need to add more treasure to the encounters).

    But whatever...the joy bit is the most important aspect of what you're doing.

    D&D memories last a long, long time...perhaps because the game uses so much of the "processing space" of our brains to play. I meet young 20-somethings that I taught the game back when they were my kids' ages who still remember the thing fondly, regardless of whether or not they still play. I think of my own lifelong obsession that has lasted nearly 40 years now, that started so innocuously with a single box of Moldvay's Basic, purchased in the toy section of J.C.Penny's.

    Sharing the game with others - but especially with youngsters full of energy and imagination - is just about the greatest thing you can do in this hobby. Sometimes I think THIS is the reason we hold Gygax in such high regard...not because of his writing or publishing but because of what he gave to so many, at both his home tables and convention tables. He is the root of so much joy...because he shared it with so many people.

    Keep on keeping on, man.

  6. There is nothing I love more than running D&D for new players. It's pure magic.

    A couple of weeks back, I resolved to start up my Shade Isle campaign again as an open table, the moment I found a game shop in Our Fair City™ that was allowing in-person gaming again, and the game begins tomorrow.

    Every single time I've started a campaign in this fashion, with no knowledge of who I'll be playing with or who's going to wind up sitting down at my table, it's generally turned out to be a joy and a pleasure, mostly on account of the new players who join up without having any prior roleplaying experience.

    1. Shade Isle was dope. I ran the game again last nigh and my players had increased to 6, with only 1 of them having any prior experience prior to playing at my table

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