Today was a special day for me: I got to pass on the magic of Dungeons & Dragons to a young person. I was about nine or so when I was introduced to this funny little game played with weird looking dice and graph paper. I didn’t know how strongly it was going to shape my life at the time. All I knew is that it was like nothing I had ever experienced before: a doorway into my own imagination – a world full of unknown dangers and glittering treasures. I stepped through that doorway and never looked back. Today I opened that door for another nine year-old boy: Jake.
I don’t have any children of my own, but I’ve known Jake since he was born. His father, Tony , is an old friend of mine and fellow gamer. To be honest, I’ve been waiting for this day for a while. I’ve seen Jake grow into an inquisitive, bright young man, and have watched him embrace many of the same things I enjoyed, and more importantly, Tony enjoyed, as a kid. Comic books, Star Wars, video games, fantasy and science fiction novels and toys of all sorts. With a father like Tony, Jake’s development into a fan was practically inevitable, really. Jake turned nine a couple of weeks ago, and I knew that it was time to introduce him to the game. With his father’s consent, we planned for a Sunday afternoon: Just Jake, Tony and me – well, that and a handful of dice.
I brought over my old Basic Dungeons & Dragons set from the seventies. I thought that perhaps it would be easier for Jake to grasp. The rules are simpler and the options a bit more limited. I was worried that Jake, a child raised on video games, might have a little trouble with the abstract nature of the game: no board, no little figurines and – more importantly – strange new concepts like “Alignment” and “Hit Points”. How would this old game hold up to the glitter of video games? I took a deep breath, grabbed a character sheet and set to the task of explaining the erudite mysteries of gaming to Jake.
Well, it turns out that I had nothing to worry about, thanks to video games. Thanks to years of playing fantasy-themed games, Jake already knew what “hit points” and “attributes” were. I didn’t even have to explain the classes to him. He took right to it, mostly because Dungeons & Dragons was the great granddaddy of the games he loves today.. Within minutes, Jake had a lawful fighter named “Bloody Ian”, and his dad a lawful cleric named “Killian”. I was the dungeon master. After that, it was off to the dungeons.
We stopped the game a couple of hours later after Killian, Ian and a non-player character fighter named “Fritz Mantooth” had slain a handful of goblins and a magic panther with paralyzing breath. A sack of gold and a magic ring was in their coffers, and more importantly, a look of delight on Jake’s face. Dungeons & Dragons had held just as much joy for this child of the XBOX as it had held for me.
Jake didn’t want to stop playing. He even asked if we could play tomorrow. When I was leaving, Jake even asked if his dad could start running a special game for just the two of them every night. My mission was complete. The torch was passed, and another gamer initiated into the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
Now, what will I run next week…