Adventures in dungeonmastering

True fact: I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons off and on since I was in fifth grade and never once in that time have I actually been a Dungeon Master. Now, granted, my first outing was about as foolproof as it could get– my audience was my wife (inclined to forgive me any errors I might have made) and my son (who wouldn’t know the difference) and I was using a prewritten, off-the-shelf adventure that I only made a small handful of modifications to, but I still think I acquitted myself pretty well. I added a character who wasn’t in the original adventure to sort of guide them through everything and created a couple of encounters before everything got started to help them get their feet wet, and we were off to the races after that. The problem with D&D is that it takes so damn long– the adventure was two pages long as written in the sourcebook and the session took three and a half damn hours. The boy wants to play again tomorrow— he’s second level now, which is just unbelievably powerful, of course– and it’s going to be hard to convince him that Daddy is not going to have this kind of free time every single day for the rest of the winter.

The kid’s a frickin’ fiend with his dice, though– three natural 20s over the course of the session, which wasn’t super combat-heavy so that’s more impressive than it sounds, more than balancing out my wife’s two natural 1s, one of which left her flat on her back at the feet of a mimic that was doing its best to try and eat her face. I wasn’t super inclined to kill either of them, although I made sure the boy in particular knew that if he tried to pull anything particularly reckless or dumb during the session he was going to pay the price, and other than offhandedly suggesting that they kill everyone in the room during an early negotiating session with some gnomes he more or less did a decent job of reining in his more destructive impulses.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Sunday. I look forward to doing this again.

In which I have reawakened the beast

… not for roleplaying, mind you– for buying dice. I took my son to the Griffon yesterday and it somehow managed to end up costing me fifty bucks, coming home with a new set of dice for him and my wife (each) and several totally unnecessary new sets of dice for me, including that metal d20 right in the middle there. I have, since then, taken to perusing Amazon for full sets of metal dice, since the Griffon’s metal collection appears to be limited to individually purchased d20s and not entire sets.

I have enough dice. I already had enough dice before I bought more dice yesterday, and I do not need to buy more dice to complement the more dice I just bought and the many dice I already had, and the part of my brain that is going dude your mom just died you’re entitled to blow some money on bullshit that makes you happy needs to shut up and go away. If I’m not careful I’m gonna end up with a dice tower this week and I don’t need that even more than I don’t need more dice.

The boy, meanwhile, is getting more demanding on a daily basis that we actually start playing. We’re gonna have to start designing characters soon. I mean, hell, we’ve got the stuff, right?


On a more serious note, I want to take a moment and thank everyone who sent thoughts or prayers or well wishes or sympathy or naked pictures or really anything my way regarding the loss of my mom this week. I was originally planning on going back to work tomorrow but I don’t think I’m quite ready yet; I’ve been reasonably busy the last couple of days and I think I need a day to be alone and quietly stare at the wall, by which I mean “read and play video games,” before I go back. I am doing a thing right now where I feel like this process should be harder, because I have not at any point in the last few days cracked open like an eggshell or collapsed into a sobbing heap, and everyone around me has told me that there is no wrong way to mourn, so believe me, I have heard the message. There is still a lot to be done, but I need some normalcy, too, and a couple of days at work worrying about other people’s problems– which, I note, will be immediately followed by a three-day weekend, since Monday is MLK day– will actually do me some good, I think.

And, hey, if you really feel bad for me and want to do something, you could always buy me more dice.

(That was a joke. Do not buy me more dice.)

In which I gain a level in Nerd Dad

The boy, who remember is eight and was never provided with a sibling, is forever crafting games that he wants his mother and I to play with him. They are damn near always some sort of Pokémon pastiche of one kind or another; “We create characters, and assign them powers, and then we battle!” only battle basically means that all of the moves he’s made up for his characters destroy all of our characters automatically. He, uh, hasn’t quite mastered the concept of game balance just yet.

“We should really get you into Dungeons and Dragons,” I said to him the other day, not expecting anything to come of what I meant as an idle comment.

Yeah, that backfired. He’s been talking about it for a solid week, and I’ve been kind of tossing around ideas for quickie adventures I might be able to run for him and my wife, and then I happened to be at Target tonight, as one does, and came across the D&D Essentials Kit, which frankly has far too much crap in it for just $24.99. There’s a rulebook (not really necessary, as I have the 5E hardcovers,) the adventure itself, some dice, a bunch of character sheets on nice paper (nonetheless, easily photocopied for backups,) a DM screen, and a bunch of little cards for status reminders and quests and magical items and other shit like this. An early look through the adventure reveals that what it actually is is a bunch of mini-quests set in the same area, so it’s going to be possible to do a bunch of shorter sessions that will be better suited to the attention span of an eight-year-old than the marathon gaming sessions I remember from high school and college.

I’m actually looking forward to this. I kind of feel bad not buying it from The Griffon, but that’s the nature of impulse buys, and I’m sure it’s gonna trigger spending a crapton of money on other stuff, and also holy crap have the nerds won the universe. You can get D&D stuff at Target. That’s kind of mind-blowing.

In which this isn't happening

My Rise of Skywalker review is at 5800 words and I’m only maybe 2/3 of the way through the movie, and I’m tapping out. This isn’t getting done tonight. So expect it tomorrow, once I’ve had time to sleep. It gives you another day to go see the movie, right? Sure.

In which I don't wanna do this and I also don't wanna not do this

All right. So, we’ve got our tickets. We’ve secured the services of a babysitter, and we’re going to see it at 4:45 on Saturday. I should probably be avoiding spoilers, and reviews are starting to hit, but … damn, it’s amazing and deeply depressing how little I care. The Force Awakens has slowly evolved into my least favorite Star Wars movie, and while I haven’t turned on Last Jedi the way I did TFA, I also never watched it again after that initial viewing in the theater. I would like to watch it before the movie on Saturday, but who knows. I actually pulled it up on Netflix an hour or so ago and upon realizing that I would be watching it until 9:30 I turned off the damn TV instead. Maybe tomorrow, after my last teaching day of 2019, or Friday, when I get home (probably early) from my no-students teacher record day. We’ll see.

I just don’t trust JJ Abrams as far as I can throw him, and in general I don’t like any of the broader decisions this trilogy has made. Frankly I’m still not at all sure why there needs to be an Episode Nine, as I thought TLJ tied up basically everything we might need to have tied up from TFA. The two movies made a decent duology; I’m just not sure what the hell you might do with this third movie to make it a meaningful trilogy.

Meanwhile, there are two episodes of The Mandalorian left, and … well, I’ve watched them all, and I’ll watch the next two, and then I’ll forget the show existed until the next season comes out, because it’s settled nicely into a “this is moderately entertaining but utterly forgettable” sort of rut, and Baby Yoda has morphed from something that was initially at least adorable and intriguing from a story perspective into a Goddamned albatross. We’ll see if they pull anything together with this episode and the finale, which airs Friday, I think, but I’m keeping my hopes muted.

I dunno. I don’t want to be One of Those Star Wars fans, but I’ve been souring on the fandom since the prequels and I’ve grown gradually more disinclined to call myself a fan of the “saga” aspects of the entire thing since Disney took over. The books mostly aren’t even worth reading any longer; all of the good Star Wars material seems to be in video games and comic books lately. I’m not going to start ranting about anyone beating up my childhood or anything like that but I’m going into this movie expecting to come out deeply disappointed, and I really wish it was anything other than that. Hell, even mad would be better, as I suspect that would generate an entertaining blog post– I just don’t think it’s gonna happen.

We’ll see, I guess. One way or another I’ll try to not be too much of an ass about it.