I have always been an avid video gamer. My Mam used to tell me I was born with a Gameboy in one hand and the schematics for the Nintendo 64 in the other. Despite being a massive fan of RPG’s – whether that be Baldur’s Gate, Final Fantasy or Morrowind – I never really got into Tabletop RPG’s. When I evolved into a dashingly handsome teenager, however, I started to dabble more and even joined a Dungeons and Dragons game with some friends. Those were, without a doubt, some of the best memories of my teen years. When it ended though, so did my attraction to the genre.
Now I am a fully-fledged adult with kids and responsibilities, I got the overwhelming urge (possibly lockdown related…) to grab some graph paper, pick up some dice and play again.
“Screw video games!” I cried. All I need is merry company, a sturdy table and the power of imagination. Turns out my company consists of my questionably sentient Son (see here for reasons why…) and my roleplaying-virgin partner. Add to that, my table is too small and getting people to imagine and roleplay is harder than I expected.
I have run a few short 90-120 minute sessions of D&D now, and despite the issues I alluded to, I can safely say: this is a hobby any family should pick up and try. My Son, like me, loves video games. Adopting my passion is naturally pride inducing, but I feared it was sapping him of his childlike wonder. He would often proclaim that he had no imagination whenever he was asked to write something creative for school, for example. This is no longer the case.
D&D has provided him with an avenue to explore the infinitely possible – to delve into an endless world where barriers and rules are merely suggestions. He is a Dwarf Rogue who, due to a tragic accident, has painfully low intelligence. My Son, after a few minutes of play, realised he wanted to cook monster parts for food rations. Shortly after, he came up with a backstory. Baring in mind, this is a child with no imagination, apparently:
Krumpet the Slow was a talented cook in his mountain hold. Then one fateful day a large pan fell on his head causing serious brain damage (hence the low intelligence). His skills with a hob may have waned, but he found a new purpose: He wanted to establish a fine dining restaurant where people could come and try exquisitely cooked monster meat. So he travels the lands, killing goblins, ogres, manticores and the like, looking for ingredients worthy of his dream. He may, or may not, be planning on opening a food stall in the meantime.
Once the idea of rules faded into the background, Krumpet began to express himself, and his actions, down to the finest detail. He was opening his mind and coming up with amazingly complex actions that, as a DM and Father, blew my mind. He walked up to a Dragon and threatened to cook him over a fire if he didn’t leave. He used his insane acrobatics skills to hunt a pack of goblins by doing intricate treetop manoeuvres. He even tried to mount a manticore and ride him like a horse (this didn’t go well). As our campaign goes on, he gets more and more confident – more and more excited. He has been telling his best friend all about it and has begged me to let him play his awesome new game. It brings a tear to my eye, it really does.
Speaking of his friend, DnD has also unearthed some disturbing, potentially psychopathological traits. Murder hoboes are commonplace in D&D, but I suspect they are less common in 9-year-old children. His mate, on a quest to save children, decided to, without evidence, lob a firebolt a small child. This was after much debate with Krumpet, who managed to talk him down from killing a gaggle of children. Freaky stuff – more so when you consider the maniacal cackling as he acted out his firebolt lobbing. There was much pride to be had as a Father, however. My Son, the moment they got back to town, told the town guard, got his friend arrested and is now on trial for murder. The mad lad grassed on his best friend instead of giving in to murder-based peer pressure. What a guy.
But that isn’t the best part. Despite my partner being new to this whole thing, and very much against the idea of roleplaying, has actually started to engage as well. This has gone from an experiment to a family occasion that we all enjoy. Between homeschooling, university work, parenting and wanting to have a break, it is easy to forget that spending time together and having fun, is just as important. I have seen a side to my Son I didn’t even know existed, and I would wholeheartedly recommend any budding parent to try the same. D&D is complicated, but the player, especially a child, doesn’t need to know every facet of the rules – that’s for the DM to know. Let them have fun in a world full of adventure.
Follow me on Twitter @gameswithtoasty, or join the Games With Toasty Facebook page here for exclusive updates on the future of the blog, as well as notifications for when the latest articles drop. Happy gaming.