Ten years ago we wrestled our children to the tabletop, explaining that they would get to “stay up until midnight” for New Year’s Eve if they would join us in playing a game. They got dice which they’d had a little bit of experience with before, but most of our games were “story games” with us in the front seat describing what happens to those in the back seat during long drives back and forth to Colorado Springs.
Our daughter created Jazzie, an elf. Jazzie was tall, very tall, with dark black hair and skin, and she clothed herself in the wilderness. Our son was told he could play a Paladin, as we weren’t going to have any PvP in the game. He created X, a Paladin who never revealed his face. My wife created Iota, a dwarven cleric of the Greek Pantheon, whose pleas to the various Gods were balanced by her role as a dwarf “not of this world.”
The story took them into dungeons, mines, castles, forests, and a grey seaside town bereft of the sounds of children. Jazzie’s reputation of her player rolling a ridiculous number of natural 20s made her a legend where the local dwarves feared her. X’s tales of his family were as evil as he was good, and then some.
A couple of years before my son said he didn’t want to play a Paladin anymore, and we discussed a lot of options. This year was the battle between the party and two of his sisters, the twin serpent mages, Xylene and Xylena. Having captured their sister Xantha to lure X into their lair, they began a ritual to change X.
Iota, grasped by divine providence, changed the runes. X changed… into something even he was not expecting. He thrust his new blood-red sword through Iota in order to kill Xylene. He and Xantha went back to kill Xylena, because “leaving even one of them alive is more dangerous than killing them.”
Iota just didn’t want her friend to have to kill his own sister.
With this in mind, the party will split. Jazzie will return to her forest. Iota will travel and learn more of this strange world she’s been set in, and X… X may end up being the start of a new party.
My wife doesn’t like AD&D. While I did say, “It was good enough for my father, and his father before him,” she likes Earthdawn. I wouldn’t mind running Earthdawn for her (and I’ve been working on a campaign for a while just for her) but our daughter is anti-insect spirit, and the Invae are a favourite of my wife’s.
Our son wants to play Amber. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me in the aggregate, but the truth is, he hasn’t really doused himself into the fuel of the Amber DRPG community, and I’m worried he’ll be set aflame by not knowing the series.
…and as I said, half a
century (2020 was a long time, okay?) year ago, I don’t know that I want to contribute to running “AD&D” any more. Sure, my game is a lot more freeform and has a lot of other game’s DNA in it. It’s a chimaera of editions, a mélange of things I like. Maybe it’s sufficiently different in play to not be labelled with the racism and sexism of its roots, but the system, no matter what motley I’ve made of it, is still AD&D at its foundation.
Ten years is a long time, a good run. Maybe it’s time to try something a little different.
Postscript: After the discussion of “what next” didn’t entirely come to any conclusion other than to try a few things out, we played TFOS. So much for playing games from this millennium. [laughing]