I have played game master in a pen and paper Roleplaying Game for each of my three boys.
It’s odd; thinking back. Every son was different. No surprise there. Their characters…SO different. The way they played…different. And I had the pleasure to walk them through many avenues of imagination along the way.
But first, let’s step back. My first year of college. I was away from home for the first time in a brave new world with all of it pitfalls and surprises. One of those surprises was a young man from Pittsburgh named Rich Jones. I, being a deep south rebel, hadn’t ventured too far north. Even to this day, I’ve never been farther north than Baltimore, Maryland. So, Rich Jones was an adventure. But it was just such an adventure that my burgeoning imagination needed.
We lived in the same dorm on the same floor. 4th West. Ah, the stories I could tell. Lol…The stories I will tell. But not just yet. Yes, 4th west was a ‘study hall’. I think it was just an excuse to herd all the nerds, freaks and weirdos into one place. But, I’m not sorry they did. In fact, I’m really appreciative to Carson Newman. If it weren’t for them, I would not have met the greatest pack of nuts I’ve every had the pleasure to meet. And the nuttiest nut was Rich Jones.
He was all Yank! He talked funny and fast. He was an excitable guy. And he LOVED the cold. My future wife had the pleasure of meeting him the first time in the dead of winter in Tennessee and he was wearing shorts, a tee-shirt and flip-flops. He was unique.
And, getting to know him, he introduced me to the finer points of living in the 80s; Steve Martian, Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy and Dungeons and Dragons.
It was that last discovery that still echoes throughout my life. For it was in his dorm room, just me, him and his roommate, that I had my first experience with Dungeon crawling. Between Rich’s roommate and myself, we had four characters. And, back in the day (I love saying that), you only had four choices for classes. The roommate picked the two most popular; Fighter and Magic User. But that didn’t bother me. I liked taking the weird way. I, then, chose a Cleric and a half-elf Fighter-Magic User.
Their adventures were amazing. And, someday, I’m going to honor them through parody. We may have only spent a couple of years playing, but our characters lived a lifetime and became legendary. Getting serious about a future with my girl, I backed off ‘childish things’. It was necessary, but it wasn’t the end.
As my first born reached the preteen ages, he began to prod me about playing D&D. Early on, my religiosity kept me from going back. To much magic and bloodshed, I suppose. But, lucky for him, I discovered West Gates 6D Star Wars RPG. In no time, we gathered his closest friends (most from church, so that explains why not D&D) and created the strangest cast of characters to ever land on Tatooine. I have a blog about these adventures already and have been to produce a cartoon (rough as it is) lampooning our days with that RPG.
Needless to say, every session was truly and adventure; for me as much as it was for them. I like to GM with a loose, fluid style; allowing the players to turn the story to suit their own personalities. It was fun to say the least. My second son, very young at the time, even convinced me to let him get
involved. He became the greatest pick-pocket on any planet. It was repetitive, but he loved it and it got him involved.
Later on, I would DM a D&D game for my eldest (now almost out of high school) and my second son would get involved there too. It was a dark little game. The eldest played this teifling whose father was the Demon Prince of the Undead who wanted nothing to do with his father’s plans, but who fancied running the whole of creation. That’s a first born for you. His younger brother created this deep gnome thief who never really got the hang of thieving, but was great for comic relief. In fact, all of his characters were.
Jump ahead nearly two decades. The eldest is out of the house and my second son and his friends are looking to start a new game. Enter Dead in the ATL. My first ever Zombie RPG. I also have a blog for that one. But , anyway, both the second son and my youngest got involved. I loved every minute of it. In fact, we may revisit it this year, even though the middle son has moved out.
I remember playing this with the kids too!
And today….my youngest GMs his own games. RPG’s are still a part of our formative years. I would very much like to develop some of my own games. I like pen and paper RPGs because I believe they may be the last bastion of imaginative play left for our kids. They are an exercise, not only, of our imaginations, but our social, deductive and problem solving skills as well. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so. For, I can never repay the debt I owe to a Yankee friend who opened the world of table top RPGs to me and my family.
Thanks Rich…..wherever you are.