Some celestial being has heard my whining about not playing role-playing games. Last weekend, as I scribbled and doodled the beginnings of a Baltic Sea campaign for Aug, my younger brother called and told me that his son wants to start playing D&D and that he is planning on running a campaign for his boy. (Funny, just like my plan.) Alex is 12 and eager to play. Brother Steve hasn’t played D&D since he and I were chiselers; he called primarily to ask me about editions, what they are like and which he should play with Alex. Naturally, after offering my profound opinion on the issue of editions, I invited myself to play. And Aug, and KC.
Sunday last, at mom’s 75th birthday celebration dinner – Happy Birthday Mom! – he continued the discussion and invited Brother Roland, the youngest of the Ryan brothers, and his son Evan to join the growing Ryan Family Reunion Role-Playing Campaign. While not at the celebration, Steve also invited Twig, the fourth Ryan brother. Twig isn’t a Ryan, he’s a Terwilliger, whose first name is Jim. Jim grew up next to us, living a quarter-mile down the road, and spent enough time with the family that he seemed like kin. At our local public school, the other kids had a hard time pronouncing Terwilliger and often turned it into “Twillinger”, and around the ranch house we turned Twillinger into Twig. It’s funny because Jim is not built like a twig, he’s built like a tree trunk. Strong, barrel-chested, and broad-shouldered, Boulder would be a more apt moniker. Regardless of his nickname – “Bunion” is also a common one but I’ll spare you the derivation – Jim plans to join us at the gaming table.
The whiff of gaming on the wind has ignited conversation around the dinner table. Not like there is nothing to talk about. KC and I are buying a house together and have been looking for the past month. Yesterday we made an offer on a 150-year-old Italianate. My trial is still pending, and lately my fellow activists have been found guilty (no surprise there, fighting the power has never been easy) and sentenced with the maximum penalty for their charge. But does Aug ask, “When will you hear about the house offer,” or “is anything happening about your trial,” as he shovels fork-fulls of peas into his trap?
“So what character are you going to make? I’m thinking about a half-orc barbarian named “Krunklor.” Or maybe a paladin.”
This morning, while brushing our teeth, he said, “What does a monk do?”
“I don’t know, sing the offices of God? Live a life of seclusion and contemplation?”
“I mean in D&D.”
KC and I have decided to make twin characters, elves born from the same egg (it had a double yoke, obviously), and hairless since birth. KC wants to be a rogue; I’m less concerned about the character’s profession and will pick one that augments the party and that no one else wants to play. (Can you say “cleric”?) Their last name will be Stalker, and their first names will be something like Night for her and Norman for him. When I flashed this by Brother Steve, he said, “no way.”
“You two can’t be twins. It will be weird when you start smooching and kissing while we play.”
I said, “Our characters won’t be smooching and kissing, and we’re not planning on making out while your twelve-year-old leads us through the dungeon.”
“Good thing,” he said. Yeah.
The plan is to converge upon his house Saturday and make characters. He also wants to talk about the fantasy world we envision playing in, perhaps even picking a pantheon for our characters’ culture. It all sounds good. He wants to run a campaign in which we are the good guys, and he says that he only wants to allow characters with Good alignments: “No Chaotic Neutral or any of that crap.” Okay, I thought, sounds find to me. I’m excited to play D&D with my brothers again, and I wonder if 30 years has changed anything. Yes, 30 years at least. My plan is to facilitate play, to make a character that adds to party cohesion and isn’t picky about choices, or railroading, or any of the hundreds of session-ailments that gamers complain about. Want us to save the peasants from the ogre? Sure thing. The king has sent us on a mission? Great, pack fresh undies! The princess is really a mindflayer? Who would have guess! (I don’t know if a mindflayer masquerading as a princess who needs rescuing is a common complaint, but if not, it should be. Not the mindflayer a la princes trope again!) You dropped an ancient, yellow dragon on 8 first-level characters!?! No problem, pass the 3d6.
I also hope that, as dungeon master, Brother Steve doesn’t unleash 30+ years of resentments brewed from what I did to his characters during those long ago adventures on my character, although if he did, I’d deserve it.