The Announcement: Episode 1 of the Brand New Natural Geekery Podcast

As teased last week, here is the announcement I’ve been waiting to reveal.  I’m joining the ranks and launching my own ship into the great podcast sea!

I am incredibly excited about this and I hope you enjoy it. I have a lot of plans in place and this will be receiving all of my attention in the weeks and months to come.

Subscriptions will be working in the next few weeks and when they do it should be available on all the major directories, including Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, IHeartRadio and Tunein/Alexa.

If you like this I encourage you to share on social media and spread the word. It will help a great deal. Feel free to leave a comment here, on the podcast page or on my email –

Look for Episode 2 next Tuesday, July 23rd!

There and Back Again

It’s been a little quiet around here lately.  My apologies for that.  My time away was necessitated by a change in my employment.  The transition from old to new office space ended up taking many more “spoons” then I had planned.  Then, the following two months were pretty hectic and tiring in the new job as I had transitioned during the busiest and, some would say, worst time to do so.  However,  they say still waters run deep.  Although things were quiet here they were NOT quiet inside my head and with my thoughts about my goals for what I wanted to have happen here.

The time away gave me chance to think and re-assess a few things.  I managed to begin putting some creative pieces together and those pieces were part of a project which, at one point, had been planned for this space .  I just thought they would be further “down the road.”  Suddenly, I realized that “further down the road” was actually much more possible then I had, at first, realized.  The universe, always conspiring to prove me wrong in my hesitations, saw fit to gift me with some much needed equipment to confirm things.  This sealed the deal and made me more excited, adding fuel to my scheming.

Long story short?  Yes, I’ve been pretty busy over the last few months but I’ll be having an announcement next week.  The blog will be here and I have every intention in moving forward with the random map, the occasional advice/commentary post, etc.   If anything, this space will be getting a nice level up.

I’m excited to introduce the next phase on Tuesday evening, July 16th.  It will be here and on Twitter.  Thanks for coming along with me this far and I’m hoping that you will continue to join me in the next leg of the journey!


The Day the Horns Sounded

If someone had told fifteen year old me that one day I was going to sit at a laptop computer and watch a bunch of D&D players wrack up over four million dollars sponsoring an animated film I would have laughed and thrown my lunchroom pizza at you.  I grew up in a time and place where playing role-playing games were looked down upon. It was a fringe and misunderstood hobby. Some people even thought it was a dangerous cult.

Even with the derision aimed my way, I never understood why more people couldn’t understand how fun it was, what it could be used for, the level of joy it could bring.  I think a lot of us, regardless of our age, have dealt with that at one point or another.  Regardless, we have held on, found our friends, played, created, and continued to run with our dreams.

We’ve done that for a long, long time.

Flash forward to today.

Like many of you yesterday, I watched the Critical Role Animated Special Kickstarter page funding amount roll upwards at an insane speed. It felt like a rocket launch as it blasted off, arched upwards, and sliced through the atmosphere. It funded it’s $750,000 goal in less than an hour and, well, it just kept going.

And going.

And going.

I cannot imagine what it must have felt like with the Critical Role team. To see that much support swell from everywhere? So quickly?  Watching this play itself on Kickstarter, seeing that #Critters was trending on Twitter in the United States, I realized something far more powerful was happening than just an animated special getting funded.

As mentioned, this is a misunderstood hobby, a fringe bastion of geeks and nerds who didn’t fit in.  Who play “that dumb game” in the basement.  To watch a troupe of talented entertainers carry their story forward with so much joy has moved us. Their laughs, sorrows and adventures have become ours because we carry that same passion. We love to see them succeed because they echo that success back to us.

As gamers from the basement, we’ve never really had that before, have we?

And though they’ve blazed the trail, this isn’t just happening with the Critical Role team. It’s now happening with other troupes, other game streams. We are finding each other in ways never before seen with the hobby. Go to Twitch and look at the Dungeons and Dragons or Tabletop RPG category. The numbers there have doubled, possibly tripled lately. Spend some time on the #Critters hashtag on Twitter and look at the outpouring of artwork and support.

This has been going on, building steam over the past five years and then, yesterday, this fun group of voice actors and D&D players called Critical Role said, “Hey, we have this idea about an animated series for our characters and could use a little help making it happen.”

That was all that was needed and we have now become a part of something much bigger than ourselves.  This would not have happened five years ago, a decade ago.

This isn’t just about funding for an animated show.

The horns have sounded and this feels like a gathering of a tribe.  Not just #Critters but a much larger tribe of role players, gamers, geeks and nerds.  A tribe looking at some leaders and saying,  “You’re doing good work. Lead the way for us. Keep doing what you are doing. We love you.  We have your back.”

Money garners attention and changes everything.  This will gather a lot of attention, some good, some bad. (For instance, when was the last time something about roleplaying games featured in Fortune magazine?) That “silly game in the basement” just rolled in 4 million dollars in approximately 24 hours.  Some wise investors are going to start asking, “What other games can do that?” Dungeons and Dragons and role-playing is going to be on the map like never before as producers and studio heads begin to fully understand the stories that get created around the table can also be marketable, that there is actual value there.  We already knew this but now THEY know it too.

Like I said, good AND bad attention.

It’ll be several months before we start to get an idea of what the effects of this might be.   Hopefully, this helps the entire hobby including those folks that create these very games we play.  Not the manufacturers and producers but the writers, the designers, the artists.  We need that to happen.  We cannot forget them.

We are entering brand new territory and, in one way or another, we all understand this.  It’s an exciting feeling that the party, whatever it may end up being, is really about to start.  I am so very excited for the Critical Role troupe and I hope they keep their head and stay true to their hearts in all of this.  I’m even more excited for the roleplaying game community, industry and tribe.

We cannot forget the openness, caring and support that got us here.  Let’s not forget where we’ve been, what we had to deal with and how we arrived. Let’s keep enjoying each other’s stories and lets keep looking out for each other, young and old.

And, lest we forget, we should get ready to watch a really cool, kick-ass cartoon late next year.

Get your dice bags ready, gang.

Tomorrow is a brand new day.

Roll for Self-Doubt

This isn’t an easy post to write but in order to jump start my writing on this blog again, I feel it’s important.  The new year has been tough for me and this blog.  No posts and, even worse, little inspiration to write them.  I’ve been struggling with something and I finally thought it would be best to just get it out in the open in hopes that exposing the blockage will remove it.

I’ve been involved in the hobby since the early 1980’s.  I’ve talked about it in past posts and have a bit more to say in the future as well.  I started the blog because I feel I have some knowledge from my experiences and wanted to share.  I followed my instincts and thought I had a good plan.

Continue reading “Roll for Self-Doubt”

Tis The Season! Holidays for your Campaign

Holidays help provide us with important breaks, excuses to party, to meet up with old friends and family as well as offering times of reflection and peace.  More so, the mid-winter season is a special time since it’s the time of year where a host of different holidays combine to create a juggernaut of a holiday season.  I enjoy diving down into the histories, traditions and folklore surrounding it.  From the ancient party of Saturnalia, to the Irish horse skulls of Mari Lwyd to the more modern Kwanzaa, it’s always a fun ride.

This year, it got me thinking about fantasy worldbuilding and the importance of festivals and holidays in a game world for a gamemaster.  In table top roleplaying, holidays can often be treated as throw-away events for a game, typically being used as a backdrop for a one-shot game.  However, I think holidays and festivals  can serve the campaign, and a game’s host, by providing more depth to the game world with not only the build up towards a holiday but the holiday itself.

If, as the game host, you already have a calendar for your world then your set.  If you don’t have a calendar it’s not necessary but it does help to give the players a sense of time.  In the game world, the cycle of annual holidays can help a community or society to understand the flow of the year.  Holidays, festivals and feasts are like sign posts letting communities plan a planting season, a harvest season, special moments of import to be celebrated, etc.

Though I’m mainly going to talk about a fantasy setting this can serve just as well in science fiction as well.  We are going to look at five components to review for inspiration in crafting a holiday for your game; Culture, Survival, Celestial Events, and Themes.  At the end of the post, I’ll present a sample holiday made up with these components.

Continue reading “Tis The Season! Holidays for your Campaign”

5 Ways to Be A Better Roleplayer

I recently read a post on Twitter from a younger player who had just started and ran his first session as the Dungeon Master in a game of D&D.  It caused a reminiscing smile since I can still remember how it was to kick off my first game while not being sure I was doing it right.  On the other side of the screen, I can also recall sitting down at my first “real” game at GenCon and being pretty unsteady.  The Twitter post got me thinking about how many new players might be out there and feeling the same way.

This is the first post in a series for new players to the tabletop game community who might be a little unsure about this stuff called “role-playing.”  There seems to be a lot more people coming into the hobby these days and, whether it’s the interest from shows like Stranger Things or the increasing popularity of streamed live games and podcasts, there is no doubt we are seeing a surge in interest.

In order to kick this series off, I’ve put together a list of top 5 things you might want to practice as a player in any role-playing game you might be playing.

I’m not saying this is the be-all-end-all of tips or advice.  This is just my opinion on the things I have found are important items to keep in the forefront of your mind when you play.  If you’re coming here for the first time I also recommend my article about the contracts around a role-playing game table.  Many of the points below can be considered sub-clauses of that contract.

I firmly believe role-playing, whether you are game mastering or playing, is more of an art form than a skill.   If you keep these 5 things in mind you will be on your way to having a memorable time at the table with the other players.

5 Ways to Be A Better Roleplayer

1.) Be Flexible

There is an adage in improvisational acting circles,  “Never say no.”  Improvisational acting (and roleplaying) has a particular energy or flow to it.  By saying no, you run the risk of negating that energy or blocking it.   Always be willing to take what is thrown at you and then toss it back out to your fellow actors.  By doing this you stay flexible and allow yourself to interact with the story instead of trying to always shape it to your will. You are not blocking anything coming your way.  This allows you to build the story instead of negating it.   Don’t worry, your chance at imposing your will to the story will come in Tip #3.

Part of playing in a role-playing game is knowing that bad things are going to happen to your character.  See Tip #4. Let them happen. Learn to roll with them.  Say yes to them and see how it moves the story along.

This concept might be difficult at first and definitely takes practice.  Pay attention next time you play and try to notice when you can add to the story by being flexible.

2.) It’s Not About You…

You don’t have to be in every scene.  You don’t need to have a say in every situation.  Learn to sit back and let your co-players have their scenes and their moments.  Let them have their time in the spotlight.  Your time will come around.  If the GM is focusing on another character’s back story this means you need to chill for a few minutes while a few scenes get played out.

When I played a lot of sportsball my coach used to say, “Just because you’re on the bench doesn’t mean you’re out of the game.”  This meant to keep watching the game and to have an understanding of the flow of the game when you got put back into it.  Use down time to think about what you might want to do next with your character or to think about your own back story.  Even better, pay attention because it gives you a chance to learn about your fellow players and their characters in the story.  That knowledge will help form a richer tapestry with each passing game.

It’s easy for your vision to narrow and to only focus on what is going on in the game that is relevant to your character.   You’re playing a mage and you get “zeroed in” when the rival spell caster shows up with the spell book you have tried to find.  You’re playing a ranger and your favored enemy arrives on the battlefield.  You’re playing a cleric and the undead finally show up.  When those situations come up it can feel urgent to get in there and “show them what I do best!”

However, be patient.  It’s not about you.  It will be better if you can take a breath and wait for your moment without interrupting someone else’s.

Which leads to…

3.) When It Is About You, Go For It

Has the spotlight come your way?  Is it finally your turn in an 8 character initiative order after you rolled a 3?  Hooray!  It’s time and, at this moment, it’s all about YOU!  Don’t hold back.  Run with the ball and make it count for all it’s worth.

Maybe you’ve waited fifteen minutes for your character to act.  Do you really just want to go with, “I try to hit the orc with my sword.”  Try to think what it would look like on the movie screen when it’s your character’s turn and play it out, describe it, even if it really only boils down to “I hit him with my sword” within the mechanics of the rules.

An example – In a current Dungeons and Dragons game,  I’m playing a rogue dwarf who does not like to get into close, physical combat.  He prefers to stay near the edges of the fight, using his perception, stealth and range weapon to help with team tactics and to pick off targets as he can.  After finding himself in the middle of a melee he had just dodged into another room to gain some space and some cover.  I sat for some time while the other players took their turns but for my character the only action was to stay put and shoot one of the enemies.  It’s the only thing that made sense.

But, when it came to my turn, I didn’t just say, “I shoot the bad guy.”  I tried to think what it might look like “on camera” and then gave a short description of how he edged around the corner  of the doorway, watching the fight as he brushed stray hair from his eyes, yelling out a warning to another player and then finally took his shot at the bad guy.

Bonus points – find a way to bring in other characters or combine your actions with other player’s character during your scene or moment.  Remember, keep the flow between everyone going.

4.) Do Bad Things to Your Character.

This one is pretty easy but I’m always surprised how many people resist it.

Be willing to have your character do things that will be bad for them and allow the game master to do bad things to them.  Of course, you could argue having a character go into a dark dungeon filled with creepy monsters matches this definition already but I am talking about something a little different.  I’m focusing on actions you KNOW are going to turn out poorly for your character but they are things your character would do.

Part of the fun of these games is playing out a situation involving an action or an attitude you might never do in real life.  Is your character a hot-headed firebrand that would slap the city guardsman for having an attitude?  Then go for it!  Is your character a bit too curious for their own good and would sneak out in the middle of the night to investigate the manor house where they are staying?  Go for it!

Of course, this should be tempered with Tip #2 above, right?  This one requires balance because not every scene at the table is about your character doing something bad to themselves.  You’ll have to learn the rhythm going at the table but the only way to do that is with practice.

5.)Respect What the Game Master is Trying To Do.

This is a bit of a repeat of the Contracts Around the Table post but I’m mentioning it because it is very important.  Always keep in mind the person who has invited you to their game has spent a lot of time creating and setting the stage you are now running around on.  It’s very possible that for every hour of game play you are enjoying they have put twice that amount into making maps, building nasty villains, placing slimy monsters and trying to plan ahead, as best they can, for you and the other players.

They are trying to tell a story for, and with, you and I feel that deserves a bit of respect.  Show them that respect by not making fun of the story, try to read what kind of story they are telling and see how you can add to it.  For many game masters this is why they do what they do.  They want to see how the characters are going to apply tip #1 above and throw it back at them.  Make sure you tell them if you are enjoying the scene, the surprises, the tension or maybe just loving the whole game.  Did you notice some subtle thing the game master slid into the scene that effected a character’s story?  Tell them you noticed.  As hard as it is to imagine, game masters are not psychic and knowing a player is enjoying their game is a super fuel for them.  It will inspire them to go even further on their next session for you.


Each of these tips should add to the energy at the table and help make the game become more memorable for you and everyone else.  All of these requires practice and you are not going to get it all right every time.    However, if you keep these 5 tips in mind and reflect on them both during and after the game, you are going to find yourself getting better and better at them every time you sit down.

Just remember, after the last die roll, it’s about telling a story and having fun with your friends.



My Worst Game of Dungeons and Dragons

I recently read this blog post on my podcast where I discussed Gencon. You can go ahead and read it or you can listen to it here.

It was 1983 and Gencon XVI was being held at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  As a teenager I had read about it in my monthly issue of The Dragon magazine which I diligently picked up at a local hobby store.  I wanted to go to Gencon as much as some kids wanted to go to Disneyland but unfortunately, I was still without a driver’s license.  Even if I had a driver’s license, the concept of me taking the family car on a 6 hour drive and a multiple day trip was not even close to the realm of reality.  Gencon might as well have been in Mongolia.

Yet, as they do, magical things occur.  Another gift came my way.  (The first gift was here.)  Details are foggy but a very close friend in the family spoke to my parents about a trip they were taking.  They had heard me talking about this special place called “GenCon” and knew about my love of this weird game I had been playing.  It so happened they were going to be heading up to Milwaukee for the same weekend as the convention and asked my parents if I could go along with them?  They would drop me off every morning at the convention, pick me up in the early evening and bring me back home when they came back from their trip.

To my stunned and stammering disbelief, my parents said, “Ok.”

As long as I took care of all of the logistics my parents were fine with me going.  They agreed to help pay my way but they wanted me to pitch in as well.  I had to check in every night by phone.  Oh, wait, let’s be clear here – a pay phone.  Remember those?  There was no such thing as the  internet then (hence the payphone) so I had to use stamps and the U.S. Mail to happily send in my entrance form and my fee.    I happily agreed and started the process.  One of the first things I did when I was picking out my gaming schedule was to enter into the D&D Open Championship that TSR would be running.

There was an agonizing long time to get my badge and my entrance packet back.  August took forever to arrive.  Patience, though,  is still a virtue and in no time I was travelling up to Kenosha in the back seat of a car with a suitcase of clothes and a backpack of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books and dice.  After an incredibly long drive and a quick check of the surroundings by my family’s friend, I found myself in Geek Nirvana.

It’s a powerful thing to find a place where, no matter how much you were ostracized where you lived, you arrive and immediately feel at home, accepted and welcome.  No matter where I went there was evidence I had found a place that accepted this wacky, geeky part of me.  Like so many others who arrive at Gencon’s doors, after living off of poorly stocked hobby store shelves  in my hometown, my first experience seeing the dealer floor was mind blowing.

The D&D Open Championship was a series of games, each about 4 hours in length, that played itself out over the course of the convention.  Players were placed in a 9-10 player group that played together to see how far they could get and stay alive through a series of adventures.  Through the culmination of different points acquired through the adventures, a final winning group would be chosen after the entire series.   My first game started in the early afternoon of my first day.

I was paired up with the other players, two of which were a little older than me but also “newbies” to GenCon.  My first character class love was Ranger and so I volunteered to play that character in the tournament.  We were all called to a table, pulled out our dice, settled in, and prepared for the adventure.  Things went fine at first.  I honestly cannot remember the quest or what we were doing.  However, I can remember how it all ended for me.

As the Ranger, I was in the lead/scout position with my long bow out as we moved along the edge of, I think,  a swamp.  The DM described the scene as we moved along and things were going well.

The dungeon master’s voice called out, “Suddenly, a wretched mass of clothing and rotted flesh staggers out of the reeds!  It lunges out and onto the path.  It is something undead and it’s moving fast towards the Ranger!”

Yikes!  My first combat at Gencon!  I was ready.  I was excited!  I never got to use the bow because the DM ruled it a surprise round.  The undead creature ran right towards me, hitting me in the first die roll.  I took solid damage.  Our cleric in the group tried to Turn Undead but, “The creature is too powerful” said the DM.

Combat went on for only one or two more rounds.  My group could do nothing to help me.  The monster took me down, slaughtering me.

My character was dead.

It then shambled back into the swamp and disappeared into the water as my companions at least tried to avenge me.

I sat in silence, so confused, so upset.  “What was that?  I never had a chance!”

The  DM replied, “You see, the creature was a revenant and it was after you.”

“A revenant?  Why was it after me?”

“It was a revenant of a man you secretly murdered in cold blood.  It’s an undead creature fueled by revenge.  It’s sole motive was to finally track you down and kill you.” The DM showed me the entry for the creature in the book he had, The Fiend Folio.  I had the book at home and when I saw the picture I remembered it.

But it only made me more confused.  I looked down at my character sheet, looked at the background. There was no mention of being a murderer.   Nothing.  Just a normal “Rangerey” background.   I clearly remember what my teenager mouth said next,

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Sorry.  That is what is in the module. You’re character is dead,” and he gave a single dismissive motion that told me I was done at the table and I should leave.

Oh, I left the table alright but I was far from done.  Even in my youthful, novice stage of RPG gaming, I knew a serious problem when it ran up to me and killed me.

I stormed over to the administration table for the tournament and explained what had happened

Even before I was done telling my story, the official  was nodding his head in agreement.  When I was finished he said (and, no, this is not exact but it’s how I remember it.) “I know.  It sucks.  The revenant is there to kill the Ranger because the Ranger is able to help the party get through a later challenge too easily.  It’s possible to save the Ranger but near impossible.  Sorry.”

I seriously had to have him repeat it to me twice.

This was the superior game design I had spent months looking forward toward,  placing all my hopes and roleplaying dream on, saving for and riding 6 hours to get to?  This? That was the answer?  I came all of this way for this?  I could have stayed at home and had a better game of Monopoly.

Now, with thirty years of experience and age under my belt, I have a feeling that there are only a few options possible about this entire situation.  The first one is simple and something my ego likes to hear.  The second, well,  is just the opposite and NOT something my ego wants to here.  I don’t like but I have to admit it as a possibility.

  1. They really designed something that stupid.
  2. I was a younger, annoying player and they had an option built in to weed such scallywags out.

Let’s look at #2 first.  I don’t remember being an annoying chatterbox kid around the table.  But, and this is important, who does?  My memory is that I was excited but pretty well behaved. I was definitely new to the experience but I have no memories of interrupting someone or trying to hog every scene.  In my adult gaming past I have had to run numerous games with that overly excited kid who is coming close to ruining the game for everyone else at the table.  (This is why I have to accept it’s a possibility.)  However, as a gamemaster, I feel it’s an important part of the skill set to use it as a chance for a teaching opportunity. This extends to other players around the table as well.  As a player it’s a perfect time to take a misbehaving player under their wing for a bit.

Bottom line is, I don’t think I was that kid but I don’t know and may never know for sure.  If I was that kid was it right of them to do what they did?  I suppose you could chalk it up to game “style?”

There was no internet or forum boards back then to go complaining on.   I was just a teenage kid who had been crushed over some really pathetic module design and sent packing back into the crowded hallway.  I will never know.  If someone is reading this and remembers this particular Gencon, this 1983 Championship and the damn revenant by the swamp with it’s hatred for a murderous ranger (that didn’t know he had murdered anyone) then, please, help a fellow gaming brother out!

What I do know is that it was the worse game of Dungeons and Dragons in my life.

Had I not been at GenCon and gone on to have an amazing series of days playing other games, sitting in pick-up games, and going on to be in the group to score 2nd place in the Top Secret RPG tournament, it might have turned me off forever.

Right then, in the moment when I was turned away with no options, I felt cheated and picked on.  All my happy feelings of being there were turned on their ear and all the gamer geek baggage I thought I had left at the door simply fell back on me.

And this is one of the two lessons I want to pass on – Be mindful of how you are running your game and, most importantly, the contract of trust your players are putting on the table with you no matter who is playing.  With that contract comes the prospect of a large amount of fun and even larger amount of trust going both ways.  Be mindful that you do not break that contract.

The other lessson?

If you have a bad game, and you will, don’t let it spin you down.  There are always more games.  Dust yourself off, grab your dice bag and find another game where everyone involved understands the contract in place.  Those games are out there and probably closer than you realize.

Go find them.




How It Started

I recently recorded this blog post on Episode 1 of the podcast. Instead of reading it, you can listen to it here.

The late 70’s were big for me. I had my brain explode twice before 1980.  I had grown up with Star Trek episodes, Godzilla movies, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Daniel Boone and a little known science fiction show called Space 1999. During the summer of 1977 I had my eleven year old brain blown by watching Star Wars on the big screen and spent most every weekend afterwards figuring out ways to see it again and again and again and again.

At the end of 1979 I went to visit a friend I had not seen in a while.  When we lived next to each other we had spent idyllic summer days in the yard behind his house chasing frogs and damning up the nearby creek. We played war with little green plastic men. We played cowboys and indians. We played daring knights and fought off monsters.  My parents had moved from the city and now lived two hours away in a much smaller town.  I’d not seen him for a long time and was excited to hang out with him again.

It was a Christmas-time visit during the holiday break.  The weather was cold and somewhat nasty so we played inside and caught up with each other.  For Christmas, his parents had given him some sort of weird new game he was excited about but which I had never seen. The box for the game was very colorful and featured a wizard and a knight confronting a dragon sitting on a mound of gold. It was called “Dungeons and Dragons.”

Sitting on the floor together, my friend tried to explain the game to me and wanted to know if I wanted to make a “Character.”  He showed me a handful of very oddly shaped plastic dice.

“It’ll make more sense if we just play,” he said.

I didn’t understand but I agreed. He took me through the steps to make a wizard and we began to play. I entered into a creepy old dungeon and fought two rats and, later, some goblins. I fired off a magic missile for the first time. I found a treasure chest with some coins and a magic wand. Once I realized it was a game of make-believe I got excited.

My brain exploded for the second time.

Then my parents were coming to get me and it was time to go. He hurried me out of the dungeon, wrapping up my first adventure. I asked him where he found the game as I rushed to get my coat and shoes on. I needed to find a copy!  I needed to know more, to play more!  What about my wizard? What would happen next?

“I’ll use him as a character in the game I play with my older brother. When you come back you can play him again.”

My parents were pulling into the driveway.

“Where can I find this game? Where did you get it?”

“I don’t know where my parents got it. I really wanted it and told everyone about it.”

“But, where did they FIND IT?”

My parents were coming to the door. There were greetings and hellos. I would have to leave very soon.

“I don’t know but…” and my friend suddenly ran back into his room. He came back carrying a Dungeons and Dragons box set still in its shrink wrap . “Look, I asked for this so much I actually got two copies. We were going to take this one back but here… I want you to have it.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Really? Are you sure?”

My parents were calling me and it was time to go. It was the holidays. Family to visit. Meals to eat.

He smiled and pressed it into my hands, “Yes. This way when you come back to play again you’ll know what you’re doing.”  He laughed.

I thanked him profusely and left with my parents back out into the cold December air. He waved to me. I waved to him. “Look what he gave me, Mom! It’s really cool. It’s a new kind of game!” As we drove away, I had the box open and was looking over the items inside, flipping through the book.

It was the last time I would see my friend.

Time passed.  We didn’t make the two hour trip as often.  People change.  Kids don’t really have firm control of their destiny, let alone long drives.  Things shift.  Life takes you on different turns and then, before you know it, you have lost touch with someone.   That was before the internet and easy communication.

I went home and poured over the book.  I made a dungeon.  I made several characters. It was the holiday break and at the first opportunity I had a friend or two over and we started to play.  We played very badly but we played.  I discovered that a local hobby store in my small Indiana town carried some modules and books.  Over the next few years, I moved on to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and became a poster child for the Stranger Things cast.  I ran a game.  My buddy ran a game.  Then another buddy was running a game.   We talked about the game during lunch breaks at school.

You know how it goes, right?

And that’s how it all started.  From a simple, generous gift came a lifetime of creativity, stories, drawings, maps, friends, adventure, laughter and fun.  A simple act of generosity followed by infinite ripples of effect after effect flowing outward over the decades.

That’s how I want it to continue.

It’s the most important part.  It’s the bottom line behind this entire project and all that I have planned here.

It’s a gift.

I hope you like it.