Friday, February 11, 2011

Your Moment of Zen

"When I get 16 I'm going to get a car and drive to the game store and play Living Forgotten Realms with the RPGA." my ten year old son said suddenly from across the room.

"That's fine with me," I said as I worked on the map at my desk.

"I want to go play," he sighed, "I miss it."

"So do I. We had some good times there.  But you know I can't support the RPGA if they are going to allow those cards in the game."

"But I want to play D&D."

"We will be playing D&D.  Two of the guys from the old group are interested in playing Labyrinth Lord."

He perked up.  "They are?"

I chuckled.  "Yes, the are.  I've told you ten times already."

He looked as if it was the first time he had heard it.  "Oh."

"And you could play yourself, yanno.  You have friends around here.  You could DM a game."

He shrugged and grunted.

"And there is that map you drew and the character I made.  I do want to play with you."

The boy sighed.  "I don't know how to DM.  I'm too young."

I shook my head.  "You know, I was just a little older than you when I started to play  Less than a year older.  Practically your age.  I picked up the D&D book, read it, and started DMing without anyone teaching me how.  There was no one to teach me how.  There was just me and my friend Chris and neither of us knew anything."


I nodded.

"But it's a big book."

I nodded.  "Yes, it's pretty big.  But do you want to know a secret?"

"Yes," he said as if that was an extremely stupid question.

"Have you ever noticed how in fourth edition that everyone expects to follow the rules in the book?  Players even correct the DM and the DM nods and goes along with what the player said, or people will argue about a rule and someone will have to pull out one of those big hardcover books from their bags?  There are so many rules that it takes a whole table of people to try and remember them all."

He looked at me like I was telling him the sky was blue.

"Well, in classic D&D, the DM is the rule book."

He looked at me as if I was telling him that martians made all of the bubblegum in the world in a secret chicken coup in Mumbai.


"The DM is the rulebook.  You have final say on the rules.  Not some book."

"Oh," he said, staring off into the aether.  Then he looked at me. "I'm the rule book?"

I nodded.  Deep in thought, he stood up and wandered off in a daze.

A few minutes later, he came back with a crooked smile and a bag of dice.  "Can I use your book and some paper?"

"Sure thing," I grabbed the Labyrinth Lord book and some paper and a clip board and pencil and handed it to him.  "What do you want the book for?"

"Prickly the hobbit will need retainers, right?"

I tried not to smile.  "Yes."

He sat down across the room and began flipping through pages.  "Would he like short people to adventure with him?  Like a dwarf?"


He stopped at a page, put a sheet of paper on the book and began writing.  Then he started rolling dice and writing again.

"Just remember," I said.  "If the NPCs have all 18s, it makes the PCs feel kind of useless."

"Oh," he said, and began erasing.

I smiled and turned back to the map.

- Ark


  1. Awesome!

    But on my map, it says the secret chicken coop is in Bombay...

  2. Fantastic. My oldest is 5 is already itching to play(and run) "D&D". Of course, we're not really using much in the way of rules yet. Just maps, something to stand in as miniatures, and some basic dice rolls. I'm going to slowly introduce him to Moldvay as soon as his attention span matures.

  3. So awesome. I love this kind of stuff. I either want my nephew to grow up a little sooner or a kid of my own. First I'd need a wife...actually first a girlfriend...this may take a bit of doing.


  4. Great post. Very fun. Look forward to reading more. Happy Gaming.

  5. Interesting post. I hadn't even considered that to today's younger gamers the very idea that the DM could have the power to create and make decisions might be alien to them. I also got a kick out of your son planning to go play Living FR with the RPGA in 6 years... what will that be then, 5th edition? 6th? Or some strange new incarnation of "D&D" we can't even imagine at present?

  6. @biopunk - you need to refresh your Google Earth cache - Bombay is sooo last millennium. :)

    @migellito - Thanks!

    @Risus - Yanno, my son made up a game with minis and dice a few year back called "Ultimate Destruction." It was actually pretty fun as a simple DMless combat system - good guys vs.. bad kinda thing. Would probably be good for 5 year-olds. Maybe I'll nudge him to post it.

    @Alien - So many steps, eh? Don't forget to floss too. Girls like flossers.

    @Whisk - Thank you. I'll definitely be writing more.

    @Anon - Well, creativity is there - just in a more rigid structure. If you drop a spoon - it will hit the floor. That wasn't a guaranteed outcome back in my D&D games circa 1983. :) Sheesh. D&D in 6 years will be a digital collectible card game with a monthly fee and an automated DM where you can level up by getting enough Happy Meal proof of purchases.

    - Ark