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Organizing a D&D Game for Boys

Calfgrit10 has shown interest in a lot of my D&D paraphernalia laying and hanging about my home office. I’ve given him some vague descriptions of D&D, but I’ve never played it with him nor given him a rulebook to read about it. Not that I haven’t wanted to, I’ve just been waiting for an appropriate level of maturity. I think he’s reached that maturity, now. So I told him to think of who he’d like to invite over for an afternoon introduction to the wonderful world of Dungeons & Dragons adventure.

He immediately had one particular friend in mind, so I noted him. Then he thought for a minute and gave me another friend’s name, and I noted him. Then he thought for another minute, and this time I suggested a friend’s name, which he agreed to, and I noted him. That would be four boys in total — a good number that maybe I could handle. I’ve run a D&D game many times through the years, but it’s been since never that I’ve done it for a group of 10 year olds. Especially a group of 10 year olds who have never been exposed to a table-top role playing game.

The boy whom I suggested, I know his father is/used to be a gamer similar to me, (we’ve briefly talked about it when our boys were hanging out together). I knew before I asked Calfgrit10, that I wanted to invite that dad and boy to join us. Not only would another classic gamer be sharing in a little nostalgia with our sons, but maybe having another dad present would make it easier for me to control the game. And I was glad that CG10 immediately agreed.

Once I got Calfgrit’s list of friends to invite, I gave thought to what edition of D&D did I want to run for them. Third edition is my personal preference for D&D gaming, but it’s too complicated for what is essentially a simple pick-up game. D&D3 is great for campaign-length gaming, but Basic D&D (1981 edition) is probably better for simple, introductory one-shot games. So I decided to run Basic D&D. And I’ll use the classic adventure module, In Search of the Unknown — the adventure module that served as my own personal first introduction to the game. The more I thought about this whole thing over the next several days, the more excited I got about it.

Maybe it could salve my disappointment over the last time I tried this with my adult game group:

I sent emails to the three boys’ parents, explaining my plans, and waited for the responses.

I’m in the planning stage of having a game day where I’ll introduce [Calfgrit10] and some of his friends to a classic game of Dungeons & Dragons. (Basic D&D, 1981 edition, if you are familiar with the game.) We want to invite [boy] to join us, if he’s interested. It’s looking like the best date would be July 23, for about 4 hours in the afternoon.

Please let me know if [boy] would be interested, and if that date is workable.

The first reply was an immediate and positive response from the dad whom I was hoping would join us. The second reply didn’t come until I had sent a follow up email several days later.

I got a phone call from the boy’s mother. She was “concerned” about the concept, as she didn’t have positive knowledge of D&D. “From what I remember about it, it was something that studious kids avoided,” she said.

Her husband had played D&D some time in the past, but she had no firsthand experience with it, herself. She said her son tended to get somewhat obsessed with video games he played, so she wanted to think about it and talk with her husband about whether D&D would be appropriate for their son. I supported her wanting to talk it out, and made no defense of the game other than to point out it is more social than most video games — he’d be playing with three or four other boys at the table.

The idea that some of the parents might have memories of the old 80’s urban myths about D&D being related to the occult, and players going insane, did cross my mind before I sent out the emails. So I had already given thought to whether to, and how to, defend it if I needed to. My decision was that I would not defend the game in an effort to get some parent’s permission for their son to play. I didn’t want to talk anyone into letting their child do something they weren’t sure about, even if their concern was based on completely untrue old scary myths. I figured the most defense I would give would be to invite the parents to join the game day if they wanted, even if they just hung out in the room with us and watched.

But even as I considered how to handle mythical worries, I thought, (read: hoped), that such silly ideas had already been sufficiently debunked just by the number of modern dads, (and maybe moms), who probably played the game in their younger, (or even current), years. But then, I should have realized that people who have not experienced D&D in any way, directly or indirectly, really have no basis on which to personally debunk any of the myths. I mean, unless you’ve swallowed Pop Rocks and Pepsi at the same time, how would you know the mixture wouldn’t kill you?

So, anyway, a few days later, the mom called back and explained that, although her husband backed up the fact that D&D is just a game, and nothing sinister in any way, their son won’t be participating in our game. They don’t want him obsessing over it like he has shown a propensity to do with video games. Fair enough. I have no problem with their decision.

The third boy we invited, I’ve had a hard time connecting with his mother. Her email bounced, and she hasn’t returned our phone call, yet. So we’ve got just one boy and dad so far planning to join our adventure afternoon. Calfgrit10 has given me another friend to invite, and I’ll be sending his parents an email tonight. I hope we can get some more takers. D&D is much more fun with a group of friends. Without the group dynamic, it looses a major enjoyment factor.


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12 Responses to Organizing a D&D Game for Boys

  1. Nerdman says:

    I started D&D when I was 10 years old with the basic rules. We did not have anyone to teach us so we learned it by reading the book only. All of us read all the book including the non-DMs reading the monsters and treasures. Don’t let your son and his friends read the monsters and tresaures. Let them discover the surprises in playing the game not in reading the book. Kudos to you for running this game for your son.

  2. brogrit says:

    im….over…..welmed….by…by…by…nerdom!!!!! i really need to get up there and through some cool factor at my nephew(s). maybe in august when i have that show up there. maybe we’ll get them there for sound check something…..

  3. Bullgrit says:

    I’d rather my sons understand proper spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar more than coolness.


  4. brogrit says:

    OH! And D&D will teach them that….? I know spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar…and I use it when I need to. Typing a post here is not one of those times. I feel this a pretty informal situation. I still think I’m going to take them sound check when I’m there in August.(which I expect to see you at the show with your friends) Let them see a good way to meet girls in the future….oh! and I can show them how cool it is to have 8-10,000 people screaming for you. Signing autographs, people wanting pictures of/with you. You know, all the fun stuff I do….oh wait! and all the girls I meet, or is there a lot of girls at the D&D table these days? No? thoughts so…oh wait…I almost forgot, I can make a living with what I do too. How much is D&D paying these days?

  5. brogrit says:

    Don’t forget, August 6 ill be up there…

  6. Bullgrit says:

    “I can show them how cool it is to have 8-10,000 people screaming for you….”

    — I don’t think either of my boys have the personality to consider any of this a cool thing. Sorry, they take after me and their mother. But it’s good that you are happy with it.

    “How much is D&D paying these days?”

    — Hobbies cost money, they don’t pay money.

  7. Early says:

    Yes you are brothers. Argue and insult then set a date for reunion.

  8. brogrit says:

    are you saying i have a hobby in something? well i do, shooting and target practice is one. but remember, i do get paid when im behind the kit and soon i will “retire” again because of it…but, unfortunately i do have to spend money too…oh well, see you in august…

    oh and i just remembered, the boys did seem to have an attraction to my kits when i was living there….at least calfgrit6 did, so seeing how they are used may still be an attraction to them….or at least im trying!!! and yes, they both take after both of you…there is no way you could deny them….just makes my job harder but im up for the challenge….

  9. Grant Niemeyer says:

    YOU MUST RUN CAVES OF CHAOS!! Best mod ever. I dream of the the day that I can scare the bajesus out of my fully armored girls as they are crawling thru it and have their first incounter with the good ole rust monster. My twins are age 4 right now soo I have a couple of years till they are of age but they have already showed some interest in it when i have had the guys over to play Living Greyhawk in the past.

    Oh and Bro many of my friends have met girls thru gaming and are happy married with kids. Also wasn’t to many STD’s picked upalong the way ether.

  10. brogrit says:

    glad to hear there are girls involved…and “Also wasn’t to many STD’s picked up along the way ether. “….good one grant.

    hey bull why didnt you come up with that one….

    just for the record, i did play a couple of games with my bro back in the day, but do to being a “thief”(in d&d) and such, i kind of was told due to killing and stealing from the other guy’s characters it would really be ok if i didnt participate anymore…oh well. bull and i do have games we have have both played and played together…like diablo and day of defeat. both were fun, we both just stopped playing them…and now i dont have time or the real desire to play. i leave the nerdy gaming stuff to bull…i hold down the cool “rockstar” thing…it has seemed to work out for the best so far….

  11. mom says:

    And the tennis court is THAT Way!

  12. brogrit says:

    no mom, its this way….

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