Cavalorn (cavalorn) wrote,
Cavalorn
cavalorn

In which my daughter plays Dungeons and Dragons, sort of (transcribed from FB)

Our daughter Sabrina, aka 'Bean', is five and a half. She loves imaginative play, especially where superheroes are concerned; having inherited my Lego, she's accumulating a small collection of DC-based stuff. Both Catwoman and Harley Quinn have changed sides and are now good guys, by the way. This is partly because Sabrina doesn't think there are enough good girls' roles in superhero stories - well done, kid - but also because she 'doesn't be baddies'.

This prompts something of a Dad strop last night. 'Why does Daddy always have to play all the bad guys?' I fume. (I am already in a Dark Souls induced frump, the sort where you hate the game forever until five minutes have passed, you have a new idea and you plunge back in.) 'It's like I'm always the DM and I never get to be a player!'

'What's a DM?' asks Sabrina.

'Well,' say I, alert to the possibility that The Time Is Nigh, 'there's a game we all used to play called Dungeons and Dragons...'

Three lines into my explanation, she yells 'I WANNA PLAY IT!'

Oh God, what have I done.

I ask her mother if this is a good idea. Her mother gives me one of those you-dug-yourself-into-this-hole-dearest-have-fun-getting-out looks. Right. Let's do this. I am confident I can improvise some basic, pared-down version of D&D that doesn't baffle or upset my daughter, but still communicates the crucial difference between tabletop RPG and other kinds of play.

To my mind, the difference is that there are Rules. It's not just freeform improvisation, unlike the stories Sabrina and I make up together (what happens when Wheatley from Portal II takes over Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, does Captain Jack Sparrow know Ariel the mermaid, what sort of house would we live in if we had a gazillion pounds and why do Daddy's houses always have disco floors). In D&D, you can choose to TRY to do something, but whether you succeed or fail isn't wholly up to you. It's the living flesh of imagination wrapped around the rigid skeletal structure of system, and that, my friends, is how the magic is made.

We can't find the polyhedral dice. We can't even find a six-sided die. No matter. We shall use the toss of a coin as our conflict resolution mechanic.

'The first challenge is to choose your character class,' I explain, lying on the sofa like some recumbent dictator. 'Fighter, magic-user, cleric or thief?'

'I want to be a witch,' says Sabrina, in a move that literally nobody could have seen coming.

'Right. Okay. As a witch, you can cast four spells,' I improvise wildly. 'Magic missile, light, spider climb and web.'

Sabrina jumps up and down with glee.

'And you have a dagger for fighting with. And some money. And a cloak.'

'Can I have a helicopter?'

'No you can't.'

Cut for length....Collapse )
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