The twins, my niece and nephew, turned ten last Monday. I decided the big one zero was certainly old enough for Jack and Ella's first game of Dungeons & Dragons.
We all were upstate for the week. My mom and pop, otherwise known as Grandma and Grandpa, rented a cottage in the woods near Lake Placid. I was full-on prepared to overcome long evenings with only dial-up DSL. We would go OG old school with dice and graph paper and photocopies.
No worries that I had not actually played D&D for something like 30 years. Being Dungeon Master was like riding a bike, right?
It seemed frivolous to consider that nobody else besides me had ever actually played a game of D&D before. Tom and Grandma were in, and so were Jack and Ella. Grandma grabbed a piece of graph paper and said she’d draw the maps. Ella situated her iPad-mini on the table, at the ready to total up her gold pieces. I was pleased with the adventuring party.
First thing after reaching the Keep, our stalwart adventurers went into a tavern. Jack announced his character wasn’t allowed to sit at the bar because he’s not 18. Ella immediately retained two henchmen. She had rolled a high charisma and the party seriously needed some extra fighters after grandpa and my brother lamely showed zero interest in playing with us.
It took about ten minutes to figure out that being a dungeon master is not a whole lot like riding a bike.
Mostly I just made shit up. Happily, I have not lost my flair for dramatic dice rolling. And I’m excellent at noisily pretending to consult one of the many manuals my mother recently dropped off at our house after declaring it was high time for all my old boxes of crap to not be in her basement.
|Stash of 1st edition D&D gear|
The good news is my fast and loose DM’ing style went completely undetected. Nobody else had ever played D&D before. What did they know from saving throws? Turns out it’s kind of great to play with a party who totally believes you when you say that armor classes can vary from round to round for no particular reason, for example.
It was magical.
|Exploring the Caves of Chaos.|
Our intrepid party of adventurers explores a dungeon.
Pure awesomeness to watch the kids totally get into it. You could practically see their imaginations sizzling as they puzzled out mysteries and decided what to do next to rescue their own sorry asses from the pickle they got themselves in. Occasionally Tom took charge when he “just couldn’t take it anymore” but in general, the kids endeavored to lead the party.
Grandma contributed a few excellent suggestions and prevented the execution of some very bad ideas. She also was the only one who brought along enough food when the gang headed out to the Caves of Chaos. She cooked dinner at the campsite. Some things don’t change much no matter what world you’re in.
After their first outing to their first dungeon, the party returns to the Keep.
Ella is too cheap to pay two silver pieces for her henchmen to stay overnight at the inn. She announces "my two henchmen will just sleep with me in my room."
Grandma says, “Absolutely not. No henchmen upstairs in your room.”
Some things don’t change much no matter what world you’re in.