Arcane Game Lore

Remember player agency!

Strange Sounds from the Kitchen

I was sitting in my office at my house painting one of my 3D printed UPF Frigate miniatures when a strange sound came wafting in from the kitchen.

“As you pass through a clearing the bushes along the edges start moving toward you and cut off the path.”

“I charge at them with my axes.”

“Is there room to use my bow?”

“Roll for initiative.”

… some time later …

“You take a short rest, everyone add one hit die of hit points back”

… some time later …

Kobold Swordmaster by Prorogue on Deviant Art

“You enter the cave and find two kobolds sitting at a table talking.  They see you and jump up.  Roll for initiative.”

… some time later …

“You’ve reached 300 XP everyone goes to level 2.”

Hit die? Kobolds? Levels? That sounds suspiciously like D&D.  I was quite entertained listening to my boys play out their first ever game of D&D, and the first time one of them had ever tried being the GM.  But level 2 at 300 XP?  In my day …

You see, while we play role-playing games, we’re not a D&D house.  Which is why the sounds were so surprising to me.  We’ve played Star Frontiers and RuneQuest but never D&D.  It’s just not a game I ever got into so I didn’t pass it on to my kids.

I started playing back in the early 80′s.  1983 to be exact.  My first ever RPG was the Red Box Basic rules and I played it in school in my gifted and talented class of all places.  One of guys in the class had started playing and pitched the idea to the teacher to play in class and she agreed.  We played 5-6 sessions over as many weeks with him as DM.  If I remember correctly we played through Keep on the Borderlands but my memory is really fuzzy on that.  I had a blast and was hooked.  A month or so after we finished playing in class, he gave me a copy of the red box for my 12th birthday in early 1984.  I quickly sat my brothers down, we rolled up characters and started playing.

Of course this was back in the heyday of the 80′s anti-D&D fervor and my parents were a bit concerned.  The actually didn’t have an issue with the idea of role playing games in general but more concerned about the fervor around D&D.  After getting D&D for my birthday I had seen this game called Star Frontiers at the PX (my dad was in the Army at the time) that was a science fiction RPG from TSR.  Being really into science fiction this game intrigued me (Traveller wasn’t on the shelves).  We had a discussion about it and I agreed to stop playing D&D and they would buy me the Star Frontiers game.  I’ve never looked back.

I did play a little 2e D&D in grad school (the first time I was in grad school) and I own the 2e Player’s Handbook and DM Guide but I’ve never really played D&D for any long period of time.  Which is why my boys playing it was such a surprise.

It turns out that one of the twins (age 16) had printed out the free PDFs of the 5e Player’s Handbook and DM Guide. He’d read through the rules and they had rolled up characters.  The other twin was playing a Halfling fighter, my 11 year old was playing an wood elf rogue, and the twin running the game had a human cleric.  They were playing an adventure that the DM had create completely on his own which ended in a TPK when they got a little too deep into the kobold lair and were facing the chieftain plus six other kobolds with more reinforcements arriving regularly.  The were simple outnumbered and overrun although the took quite a number of their enemies with them.

The twin running the game learned a bit about encounter balancing and they all got a better feel for the mechanics.  They reset their characters to level 1 (The one twin rolled up a dwarf fighter instead of his halfling one) and they launched off onto another homemade adventure.  They survived this one and managed to make it to level 3 (900 XP? Really?)

I was quite happy to see them picking up the GM mantle and running games on their own and taking the initiative to do so.  I was a little surprised that they didn’t use one of the games that we already had in the house but since those are all older games (Star Frontiers, RuneQuest, MERP, Powers & Perils, GURPS 3e, and Paranoia mainly) it’s not a complete shock.

We’ll have to see how this goes.  I might just have to read the 5e rules myself.


Categorised as: General

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