Kids & RPGs: Passing it Down

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Just recently, I’ve started a new campaign. I think I’m more excited about this game than any other I’ve run (which is saying a lot,  given the fact that I practically live for running games). It’s nothing fancy: just a plain, vanilla, out of the box ADD3.5 game, using largely canned adventures. The adventures aren’t anything to write home about — many are old-fashioned dungeon crawls updated to 3.5 stats. It’s not the adventures, it’s not the setting (I haven’t really developed one yet). What makes this game so exciting for me is the players … well, one player.

You see — I’m teaching my son AD&D. At 12, he’s finally able to sit down long enough to make it through a game session. I’m not sure who’s more thrilled: him or me. Probably me.

As the child of two gamers, he’s been around RPGs his whole life. He actually played his first game when he was 14 weeks old; he played a changeling child in a World of Darkness LARP. He’s been playing MMOs since he was five.  He’s watched countless game sessions I’ve run and played in. He follows the AD&D game I’m playing in almost as closely as I do and always asks what happened if he’s not around during a session. But this is his first real tabletop game.

I’m not expecting him to play all of his games with me. Honestly, I wouldn’t want him to. I know for me, half of the fun of games was discovering things for myself, with people of my own age and skill level and that’s an experience I don’t want him to miss out on. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud when he asked me to run his first game.

I ran my first game when I was about his age. It was the B1 module In Search of the Unknown that came in the Basic D&D “blue” box. Of course, back then adventuring consisted of killing monsters, gathering treasure, and getting as much magic and experience points as we could.  We had only the most rudimentary idea of a background for our characters and there wasn’t as much role-playing as roll-playing. But it was the start which, 30 years later, led to our current games of rich character interaction, fully-developed game settings, and intricate plots and subplots where it’s almost as much theatre as game.

I’ll refer to my son as ‘Kraseus’ —  his character name. After all, when I was his age, I preferred my character name to my real one, too 😉 .

Kraseus is starting from a different point: he wants what he sees the adults playing. He wants a detailed character background and the sense that he’s playing in a world that could be real — something I never looked for until my later years of high-school. But he’s entering a well-developed hobby where as, 30 years ago, it wasn’t just us that were new: the whole idea of gaming was new. My son is a second-generation gamer (actually third, on his dad’s side), so his expectations are different from mine at his age.

It’ll be very interesting to see where his generation takes us.

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