Mom is my Dungeon Master: D&D role playing games as family hobby

Full-time Mom, new blogger; add Dungeon Master to my illustrious titles

I avoided doing any housework this weekend. I also missed making a daily post to this blog for the first time in nearly two months. Why? I am now the Dungeon Master (DM) for the D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) Starter Set adventureLost Mine of Phandelver.”

Most of my free—and some rather expensive—minutes for a week and a half have been spent on this endeavor. Even with a ready made campaign, being a DM doesn’t come cheap in terms of time. I hadn’t even played a game of D&D since the 1990’s. The learning curve was steep!

Phandelver game DM view of cave Wolf room 3

Spoiler Alert: Don’t look too closely if you’re planning to play Lost Mine of Phandelver as a PC

What’s a Role Playing Game (RPG)?

Not sure what a role playing game (RPG) is, exactly? Wikipedia and others can explain them in greater detail, but start by imagining a shared group storytelling experience that follows a set of rules to impose some structure and some interesting randomness on the proceedings.

The person conducting the story and acting as “referee” is the Dungeon Master (DM); every player contributes to the overall story by describing what their player character (PC) does in the context of that story. The DM can use a “campaign” (story) written by someone else like I did this weekend, or she can create a scenario, world, or universe uniquely her own.

If you are imaginative and enjoy other table games, RPGs could prove a similar source of fun for you and yours. It is time consuming, though. I spent ten hours this weekend around a table—during two evening sessions—with my family and some good friends. That’s in addition to the hours I spent preparing earlier in the week.

Everyone was fully engaged and having fun, including a pair of middle school aged kids playing with their parents. That’s a coup according to this mom. Aside from getting to bed late on a school night (oops!), this first family foray into RPGs proved a great success.

I can’t really take the credit for initiating the game, though. I do, however, emphatically accept the kudos for working my butt off to give everyone a good time.

Read on to find out what got us started.

Community and the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons episodes that got us gaming

Ever watch the TV show Community? Community devoted two full episodes (Season 2 Episode 14 and Season 5 Episode 10) to having its characters wrapped up in D&D sessions. I’ve read that this generated wide-ranging interest for new players of D&D beyond that of my family.

If my explanation of an RPG (above) didn’t make sense to you, take half an hour and watch one of the Community episodes. Try Hulu, or we got the DVDs from Netflix.

DS2 (of elementary school age) has been passionately excited about trying out this RPG for himself since we watched the Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons episode of Community. Over a period of weeks, he’s been asking more-than-daily when we could play.

Being parents of geeky tendencies, both DH and I had experience playing D&D in the past, but neither of us had played recently. We reached out to friends with similar tastes and age-matched kids and even set up a gaming session for early June, but DS2 was too eager to wait that long.

Starter SetI ordered the reasonably priced ($19.99 retail) Starter Set from Amazon, and realized shortly thereafter that I was going to have to study up and be the DM.

DH is already too busy with work; he doesn’t have any more bandwidth. DS2 is eager, but the organization and complexity of D&D is way too much for most kids his age to pick up without even playing a game first. (D&D is difficulty rated for ages 12+.) DS1 had to be commanded by parental decree that he would participate in this family activity, though he wasn’t overly resistant. Still, he wasn’t interested enough to be DM. A friend and her daughter were happy to join us for the game, but neither was more knowledgeable than I, nor were they better prepared to DM.

That left me.

I’ll reiterate that I’m a lazy housekeeper. Pretty much any intellectually stimulating activity is going to appeal to me more than tidying up. My house is messy because I prefer doing other things.

After all is said and done, I would rather DM a session of D&D, however poorly, than attend to my housework, which brings us to today.

I didn’t do the weekly sheet change on the usual day. I didn’t get the donations organized for the upcoming charity pickup, so the garage still isn’t ready for its summer role as table tennis central. I didn’t return my overdue books, or pick up my library holds on time, but, fortunately, they know me pretty well, and they held them an extra day. Phew!

Phandelver game PC WizardMy house is a more than usual mess, but my little guy went to sleep last night—much too late, but so very happy—and the last thing he said as he drifted off was, “Thank you, Mommy, for being the Dungeon Master. You did a good…”

He probably would’ve said “job,” had he not been fast asleep.

It was a job, but a rewarding one. Not unlike motherhood itself.

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