When I was in sixth grade way back in 1980, when I was almost ten years old, I really got into Dungeons & Dragons.
There was no bookstore in the small, rural town in Iowa where I grew up, so I had to wait for trips to the “big city” of Dubuque to hit the Waldenbooks at the mall to check out the latest D&D modules. The modules had these amazing, brightly colored covers, and inside were all the treasures: maps, monsters, quests, and more charts than you could shake a ten-foot pole at.
I was hooked. I’d just read The Hobbit in fifth grade, and was working my way through The Lord of the Rings, and I couldn’t get enough of these fantasy worlds. I was an avid reader, but those books opened up a place inside of me I never knew existed. It was an amazing feeling, and something I’ve tried to recapture over the years in the books I read and the books I’ve written.
So my ten-year-old self read the modules, tried my best to study the rules, and tried painting some pewter miniatures.
I even wrote an adventure or two, collaborating with my sixth-grade buddy on a two-parter: “Victory at Castle Deepmoat” (mine) and “The Diamond of Terror Mountain” (his).
But I never actually played the game.
Years passed, and I played computer role-playing games like Wizardry, Ultima, and Might & Magic, and I read (and re-read) fantasy novels like the Dragonlance series, Thomas Covenant, the many Drizzt novels, and more. But still no D&D.
Fate plays a role (roll?)
Flash forward to 2016 and a visit to the Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville, NC, with my two sons, Drew and Mitch. Mitch was the one who found the “Starter Set” for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons at that store, and I was intrigued:We bought the box set, which came with the condensed version of the instructions (which were still intimidating!), a complete adventure (The Lost Mine of Phandelver), some pre-filled character sheets, and six plain blue dice.
Oh yeah, the dice! I could write a whole blog post on the magic of these dice! And the many many different kinds of dice you can buy and collect and use during the game… Don’t get me started! Here’s a shot of my most recently purchased dice, along with two extra “inspiration” dice:
After flipping through the pages of these books, we all got excited and bit shell-shocked by all the rules. I made the kids stay away from the adventure, because I wanted to try being the “DM” aka the Dungeon Master, aka the person who runs the adventure for the players.
And then the box sat on the basement shelf with the other games for nearly a year, mocking me. I was too nervous to try an actual game. I figured I’d mess it up. I never thought I’d remember all the rules and all the details. And my kids would hate it and never play again.
Enter the D&D Dad Blog
Right now, in the early fall of 2018, Dungeons & Dragons is having a huge resurgence, and you might have heard about it. I’m guessing you probably feel overwhelmed by the thought of learning this game, or maybe you’re just curious to see what all the hubbub is about. Maybe your kids are interested in playing, but you’re a little apprehensive (“Is it kind of… satanic?” Short answer: “Heck no!”).
If you’re like I was two years ago, you probably don’t know where to start.
So let me help. In this blog, I’m going to write about all sorts things related to D&D, including how to get started, which resources and sites have the best info, and how to be the best DM and PC (player character) you can be. All the blog entries are listed and organized on the D&D Dad! tab.
Also, because I’m playing with my kids, my focus is on making sure kids (and other new players) enjoy the game right off the bat. I was actually shocked at how much we laugh when we play D&D, and how much fun it is to spend quality time with family and friends while we play this crazy game without a board, versus the solitary aspect of playing video games.
My goal is to add a blog every week, no later than Friday, and I’ve seeded the D&D Dad Blog page with some content already, including some reviews of great “one-shot” adventures that you can finish in one sitting (maybe two), and a couple “start-up” articles with tons of tips and links to help you get those d20s rolling.
(I’ll explain “d20s” and everything else as I go, so don’t worry!)
If you have any questions or topics you’d like to see me discuss, leave me a comment below, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t let that Starter Set mock you any longer!!!
Oh, and by the way…
We did finally overcome our fears and started playing last October (2017). While it may have taken us a year to get going, in the past year, my wife Elizabeth and my two sons Drew (now 13) and Mitch (now 10), have gotten hooked on D&D. Well, at least us guys are hooked (though Elizabeth likes her ranger and paladin characters quite a bit).
That’s Mitch up there, having a ball during his first turn as Dungeon Master for his game (called “My First Adventure,” fittingly enough). Happy gaming!
Here are some links to help you get into dungeons and slaying dragons in no time flat: