I'm going to say that it's all MB's fault, or I would if I weren't reminded of the fact that the 90% being off in his own fantasy land comes from my side of the family, and the 10% laser-intensity focus comes from his dad. MB has developed a rather interesting habit, one that I think is going to do very well for him if I don't do something rash out of sheer exasperation. He is very persistent when he wants something. And I don't mean this in the I'm gonna nag Mom until she gives in or sells me for organ donation sort of way. I mean this in the I'm going to actually do my chores and then remind her every minute of every morning, noon, and night that I'm realllllly interested in doing something and she's my only teacher.
It takes way more time to describe it than it does to be effective. Because I really can't say no to a kid that really wants to learn something. Like knit socks. Or write for long stretches of time. Or, may all the universe hear and have pity, go on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Now, D&D has been around the periphery of the family for a fairly long time. A good friend who has been adventuring since about 30 seconds after Gary Gygax invented the game has offered to lend me books, lent me a cd, and sent me some pretty nifty links that I managed to multiply. After an initial wave of interest, the Banshees went back to their usual pastimes of ignoring chores, baiting each other unmercifully, and attempting to will the idea of formal schooling out of existence. And that's how events stood until about four days ago. I swear on my own life I don't really know how the conversation got started, but I know how it ended: With three Banshees deciding that D&D sounded like a wonderful idea and couldn't we all get started, like, yesterday?
How, exactly, did I let myself get backed into Dungeon Mastering? The last time I tried it I was absolutely lousy. Of course, the last time I tried it I was also an uptight 20-year-old who was trying to run the least imaginative, most buttoned-down campaign in the history of the game. It was a very predictable disaster. Worse, I was never much of a gamer even before that, preferring to invent my worlds wholesale on paper (and then with pixels) rather than have to deal with dice and other people. But I'm the grown up and I'm the only one who has even the faintest inkling of what has to get done, so here I am, doing it.
First, I put to the vote the idea of taking a week or two to research versus just starting as soon as we can and learning as we go along. Unanimous vote for adventuring on the fly. Fair enough. I poked around the links both borrowed and researched and came up with a working plan. Oooh, monsters! Wow, there's the rules list! And I cannot tell you how giddy I was when I found a first-level module; I'm all for inventing my own but I'd like to offer the Banshees an opportunity to have the same characters at the end of the campaign as they did at the beginning. Somebody else's writing will be better for that, for now. I did look at buying the starting triumvirate, the DM guide, the Player's Handbook, and the Monster Manual (version 3.5, nobody I've talked to likes 4 at all), but the $100 that's going to cost has to go towards actually feeding real, live Banshees. We're just going to have to cobble as we go.
Second, I told the Banshees that because I have no idea of what I'm doing, they were just going to have to put up with moments of suddenly glowing rock formations or mysteriously illuminated trees, or just some shaft of light pouring out of the heavens and a voice announcing that This Is How It Will Be From Now On, which is the DM's way of saying that she finally located the relevant rule governing this particular convention. Banshees are so far pretty cool with that whole idea.
And lastly, at least for now, everything is on hold until I can get my hands on some polyhedral dice. I can't do anything about pit traps or collapsing barrel vaults or tiny monstrous spiders (sorry, the concept of a jumbo shrimp arachnid has been making me break out into spontaneous giggles all day) until I've got the polyhedrals and a whole lot more research under my belt. I know what the d6 do, and I'm pretty sure of the d20 and the d10, but for the Life of Brian I cannot remember what a d4 or d12 are for. I swear I've given more thought to this than most of the research papers I've had to write over the years.
As long as I'm researching or otherwise paving the way, life is peaceful. Ish. But the moment it looks like I'm flagging, MB appears at my right elbow and lets me know with that quiet and polite and inexorable persistence, that this is really very important to him. So I show him what I've been doing, perhaps teach him the difference between a Rogue and a Raven, and send him on his way with only the faintest twinge of guilt over preparing to send my mildly math-phobic children into a pretty math-intensive game.
They only think they invented sneaky.