Posted by Caroline aka Mom
I didn’t expect to play any sort of Dungeons and Dragons with our kid, ever, much less when he was only five years old. Heck, the last time I played any real DnD was like twenty years ago and I have zero interest in playing it myself. Yet here I am: a dungeon mommy. Let me weave you the tale of how it began… but without good voices because I am not a Real Dungeon Master.
We were cleaning out his room trying to make a donate pile of toys that he doesn’t play with anymore. A big plush d20 that someone gifted us a million years ago came into consideration. Marc suggested donating it, and I foolishly said aloud, “Well… maybe he’ll want to play Dungeons and Dragons someday.” To which the Hobblet immediately attached ignorant but strong desire.
I moved on to organizing puzzles, but his attention was secure. “Is that Dungeons and Dragons?” he asked as I sorted an alphabet puzzle (not DnD) from a Paddington Bear puzzle (… could we make a Paddington DnD??!) . “Can I play Dungeons and Dragons? I want to play Dungeons and Dragons. Mommy let’s play Dungeons and Dragons.” And if you’ve ever heard a five year old say “Dungeons and Dragons” over and over again in his irresistibly cute voice you can understand that I was powerless to say no. And so our DnD campaign began.
His first character was a human rogue named “I Squished Your Cake.” Over the course of an afternoon he fought a bunch of dragons (by which I mean he narrated doing something, rolled the plush d20, and was given results by me, the worst dungeon master of all time) and then moved on to the next activity.
A few days later, we were making a new character — an elf warrior named “I chopped down your house”, which transformed to “Chop Housedown” and finally landed on the lovable “Chop Downhouse.”
Of course we aren’t really playing Dungeons and Dragons as written. We don’t have character sheets and I certainly haven’t read any books. We use a d20 (or rock-paper-scissors if we are out and about) for success/fail conflict resolution (of course something interesting always happens on failure, I’m a modern parent). We aren’t keeping track of abilities or levels or any of that, just doing some fighty-make-believe.
At this point in our campaign, Chop Downhouse has lost his axe (he kept throwing it at monsters and finally a dragon just flew off with it), and so has his first real mission. He’s following a Sand Dragon’s tunnel to some promised treasure with his friend, the enemy wizard lizard turned friend, Quake.
Some children are very interested in world-building. Right now, our child is excited about throwing his axe and getting sweet treas’. (So far the treasure has been a magical apple that never runs out, a magical cheese that never runs out, and magical bread that never runs out. These are all good things.) Beyond the battling and the treasure, we will sometimes have a very nice conversation between his character and an NPC (again, with no voices because I don’t really DM).
All in all, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much fun I’m having playing our version of “Dungeons and Dragons” together. We share our creativity at the level that we can, inhabiting made-up worlds that we imagine in our own ways. We call it Dungeons and Dragons, but like all DnD, it’s something else that only exists within the experience of the players – a goofy little kid and his proud mama.
I live in terror of the day he learns to read and discovers that there are actual rules and maths.