So my son and I were clearing off the kitchen table, getting ready to play our first official Labyrinth Lord game. Denis the Fighter's character sheet was laden with scattered dice.
I love back story, so I ask my son, "So where does Denis come from? A big city, a medium town, or a small village?"
"A great big city," he hopped up to my desk and pointed the rough draft of the Gulf of Labrys basin. "He was born there, in Norlun."
Hmm, I had intended to start off in Oshtan, which was more to the south west. Oh well, I could deal with that.
"Okay, so . . ."
My son wasn't finished. "And his parents were killed when he was two and he was adopted by dwarves."
I blinked a couple of times. That completely messed up my whole non-racial fraternization concept for the world. I began to imagine baby Denis in a basket made of reeds floating down the Nile. Oh well, I could deal with that.
I scanned the map. "There are some nice mountains near Norlun right here. I suppose there could be some dwarves living here." I nervously looked at the big word DUERGAR in the mountains. Oh well, I could deal with that.
"No," he shook his head, pointing to the mountains with DWARVEN STRONGHOLDS written on them. "That is where his parents live."
I began scratching my beard. That was over 1,200 miles away from his home. How in the hell did the two year old Denis get all the way over there. The dwarves, in my mind, certainly were not much for travel. They only hit the road if the needed a Burglar to sneak into lonely mountains. My mind raced.
"That's a long way away. Why would Denis' parents be anywhere near the dwarven mountains?"
Of course, the Peanut Gallery had no answer.
"They must have been merchants," I muttered. “ Desperate merchants looking to strike a deal with the dwarves. They would have had to have gone through here, the NEUTRAL ZONE, which is full of thieves and outcasts of society. They they'd have to brave the Lands of the Goblinkind to get to the Dwarven Strongholds."
My son nodded. "The Goblins killed his parents."
"Aha," I nodded back. "It all makes sense now. The dwarves rushed to help the humans, but it was too late, and all they could save was baby Denis."
"The dwarves taught him to fight and vanquish anything in his path."
"Yes, it means . . ."
I chuckled, "I know what it means." We sat down and I began to flip to the back of the Labyrinth Lord book.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Oh, it's a little adventure in the back of the book I'm going to take Denis through."
"I don't want to do someone else’s adventure. I want to do one of your adventures. Your adventures are much better."
I watched the entirety of my plans go up in smoke. I took a deep breath. I could deal with that.
"Okay . . . so Denis is . . . at his home, in Jarlsberg . . ."
The boy shook his head. "It should be a cool name. Like . . . like . . . Thornhold."
I smiled. "Okay, So Denis is with his mother and father, Helga and Jarn . . . Bronzebottom . . ."
"Just Bronze." he said.
"Okay, Denis is deep in the bowels of the Dwarven Fortress of Thornhold, a hollowed out shell of a mountain. It's normally dark, since the dwarves can see heat,"
"Like a snake?"
"Like a snake. But Denis' parents have always carefully lit their home so that Denis could see well and not stub his toes. So Helga and Jarn dressed Denis up in the family armor and gave him a sturdy shield and mighty sword. Then his mother says 'We've taken care of you all these years, my son, and loved every minute of it. We've taught you all we can teach you. It's time you made your way to the human lands. You need to learn about being a human. You'll make human friends and find a human woman to love and have a family with. You can't do that here - only with other humans.’"
I watched as my son's face began to drop and it almost looked like he had a tear in his eye. "It's okay," I said softly. "It's time for Denis to go have adventures now."
"I know Dad," he looked at me, "But Denis is really sad. He wants to go on adventures, but Denis loves his mom and dad a lot and will miss them a bunch."
I nodded and gave him a minute.
He nodded yes.
"Okay then, Denis' mom and dad hug him and warn him about the goblins and send him on his way."
He smiled great big. "Okay, I leave home and go off into the wilderness. Do I see any goblins?"
"As a matter of fact . . . you do."
Okay, now that is why I play.