I will admit I did not anticipate that my kids would be as awesome as they are. There is an abiding pride a geeky dad experiences when his 7 year old son says, “Hey Daddy, can we play Dungeons and Dragons?”
There is, of course, but one correct answer to this question. But that is not the answer I gave. My nerd-dar pinging madly, and simultaneously thrilled that my son is, in fact, very much like me, and also a little scared for what that will mean in middle school, I said, “Heck yes we can.” Immediately, I searched online for a 5th edition character sheet (of which there are actually many) and helped him roll up a character – Nilon Samtor, Human Sorcerer. His 4-year-old brother, as 4-year-old brothers are wont to do, saw this and was immediately intrigued. After thoughtful and mature negotiations (read: whining, a tantrum, a timeout, and ultimately a merciful invitation from his brother) the littler one ended up with Lexton Firebomb, Human Fighter.
“How has it turned out?,” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you – we have played for more than 30 hours in the last couple of months, both boys’ characters are at level 8, they have been misled by a corrupt king twice, have been jailed and escaped, have taken command of a medieval/steampunkish airship called The Highwing, have explored the edges of the material plane, captured a young dragon, and are preparing to wage war against the evil that has seeded the land with mistrust and greed. Yeah, it’s working out. I tell you, I can’t get the boys to sit still for a 90-minute movie, but we’ll roleplay for two hours straight and I’ll be the one who needs the break!
It started out as a lark, but now I really believe in the power of D&D to capture the imagination of young players. Of course, as their dungeon master (or DM – the one moderating the action and story), I’m careful to curate the monsters and plots they encounter. It’s been very PG so far. Even the monsters, when defeated, collapse into a gentle repose and vanish like ashes in the wind, returned to whatever plane they have been summoned from. It’s fantasy, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying.
I am hopeful to post up on some of the adventures they have undertaken in the future. Some of it has been very trite, but fun nonetheless. And then there have also been adventures that reveal so much about their own character – decisions that they have made, and consequences they have dealt with, that make me proud like you wouldn’t believe.