“After searching in the ancient desk, you find a blank piece of paper. After giving it a good look, you can’t see any visible marks on it. While lost in trying to figure out its meaning, you become aware of someone or something breathing behind you. What do you do?”
I started playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was younger than ten years old, in a small space the floor between the bed and wall with my brother, five years my senior, when we were supposed to be sleeping. I clearly remember the funny looking dice, coloring in their numbers with the included crayon, tracing the numbers like one would go over a line, thinking to myself, this is dumb. I pretty sure I was an adult when I learned how it was supposed to be done.
Underneath the night’s veil, my brother Scott would tell me stories of combat and fierce creatures, and we would roll funny dice, their results helping dictate how well my character performed or if the enemy heard my hopefully silent foot steps as my character tried to sneak past them.
Unfortunately, I did take most of two decades off from the hobby. From my late teens to my late 30s, I didn’t play much. I tried my best to be a good adult, the best father and husband I could be. The hobby fell away as my friends also tried their hands at adulthood. Fast forward many years, and I find myself sitting in front of my son and a few of his friends with the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, and I am immediately reminded of the joy of unbridled, youthful imagination.
There is any number of things that a father can do with their children, and it would be a success. However, D&D is special. It allows for a myriad of things to converge in one time and place. Imagination, teamwork, social experiences, math, history, problem solving, morality and storytelling all come together in a simple, but amazing time and experience.
Playing the game with my son and his friends, reminds me how amazing they are. And to me, that makes D&D amazing.