Memories Made from Present Moments
Heartwarming Stories in Table Top Roleplaying Games
Listen to me tell a tale about my very first gaming group.
Excitedly, I opened up the Monster Manual for 5th edition. You know, the one with the giant beholder on it’s cover? My dining room table was clear, my coffee was warmed and the kids had already started their school in the other room. I had a quiet moment to read through this new hobby and let my imagination fly into new worlds.
The doorbell interrupted my thoughts. It was my neighbor, a kid working on his master’s degree. He had heard we just moved into the neighborhood and decided to introduce himself to me. He saw the Monster Manual in my hands and his eyes lit up.
“Do you play D&D?”
I laughed, “Not yet, but I’m hoping to learn.”
About 30 minutes later, he had revealed his knowledge of 4th edition, and how he and his brother have loved to play, but have had 2 of their dungeon masters move out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. After a little bit of fishing, he asked if I had a game already.
“You know, how about we start one?” I smiled.
Later that week, I pulled out a brand new D&D t shirt and wore it to church. I had always been a bit of an evangelist and thought t shirts were low ask salespoints and great ways to start conversations. It worked! Before we left, a couple decided to join our game.
Game night arrived. I had broken out the boxed set, set up my meeple miniatures and prepared for our 4 guests. My wife joined the game as well, with the same level of novice ability that I had. We even decided to make 3 times the amount of casserole that night to serve it up ahead of the game.
Soon, we had a group of friends that joined our family once a week for a simple night of storytelling, dice rolling and friendship. One of our players even had a baby during that campaign! I was amazed at how quickly everyone was ready to play and engage given that we had only just met.
The campaign lasted 6 months. We finished up the boxed set and I branched out to design my own adventure using the choices the players made in game. It worked as well, but they killed the villain within a round, and yes, it was a little anti-climatic. Nevertheless, fun was had. One of the guys invited a friend from school and then she invited her boyfriend to play as well. We finished off the campaign with 7 players.
“Thank you for opening your home,” one of them said.
“I appreciate your storytelling approach,” another commented.
Week after week, the group blended together a pretty gnarly party, if I may say so. I learned that leading a tabletop roleplaying game was one of the most rewarding expenses of my time and also learned that storytelling is an art that needs to resurface in our social circles and even more so, outside of those circles. I learned to listen, to my internal voice planning for the next adventure even during the game and also learned to listen to the player’s voice as they attempted to describe to me the intent of their character in the game. I even learned how to teach other players to listen to one another.
And then suddenly, we moved. Work situation changed, taxes increased, and family needs arose. It was a sad final session, but we ended on a wonderful note. I’ll never forget the feelings of wonder and excitement at having planned a game night and still not entirely sure how it would all end. I’ll never forget the smiling faces around our living room coffee table and the eternal sounds of dice clacking against the felt boards, followed by shouts of glee or groans of disapproval. Sometimes, I’m sad I moved; sad we can’t play anymore. But then I remember of how many groups have gathered around a table for years, rolling dice. Not any time did they think in the moment, “one day this will all end.” The sounds of the dice and the storytelling all keep everyone present in the moment. And that’s the power of tabletop roleplaying games. They help us enter into the present by visiting another world in our imagination.
So I will keep playing, keep the monster manual bookmarked and continue to smile and wave at my neighbors until one day they become new friends.
May your story continue.