Nostalgia Check (DC 25)

Two afternoons a week, i get to hang out with a bunch of teenagers who do whatever i tell them to do. But it’s not what you think.

This is the third year of the RPG club i’ve been running/coordinating/unleashing the unbridled chaos of at the middle school where Caitlin (daughter) is a student and Colleen (significant other) is a teacher, and the first year of the same club at the high school where Shvaugn (other daughter) is a student after having worked her way up through the middle school club farm team. The group i'm currently running are all 7th-graders, two of which have severe ADHD. (I’m aware of this because living with a teacher, you learn to pick up on these things pretty quickly.) One kid (who's a treat to hang out with regardless) is as sharp as a tack, remembers and can recite every detail of every session of every adventure we’ve ever played, can strategize like crazy — and every time he made an attack for the first two months of playing this year, had to ask "What do i do?"

As i think is true of most adults (as i hope is true of most adults), i don’t have a lot of excuses to hang out with 14-year-olds these days. And i’m glad that i get to do so in this capacity, because even after 30-odd years, i still think gaming is pretty amazingly cool, as are the kids i’m gaming with. Moreover, the parallels/reflections betwixt watching them game and remembering how i gamed when i first started playing are sometimes wryly amusing. There's a 9th-grader named Murray (who was in 7th grade when we started the club at the middle school) who is far and away one of the best DMs i’ve ever seen. And i find that his freeform DMing style and penchant for burdening the PCs with the most insanely powerful magic reminds me so much of my good friend and uber-DM Mitchell, back in the day when we used to entrench ourselves in the Peter Skene Ogden Secondary library cubicles for hours on end, engaging our imaginations and completely undercutting any hope of having a normal social life.

Mitch used to number the NPC henchman the PCs would hire because they typically never lasted long enough to remember their names, and to have relatively low-level characters trip across artifacts just for the sheer joy of watching the players of said characters succumb to the temptation of using them. Murray is fond of letting characters construct oversized ballistae capable of hitting targets at a range of several miles, and of alchemical potions that can be thrown to explode for 1d4 x 100 points of damage. Down through the years, from generation to generation, there’s a continuum of rabid rat-bastard DMing that i feel privileged to be a part of.