My brother started playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons around the time when I was 7. It seemed like every weekend, a group of teenage boys gathered around the dining room table and spoke in such strange tongues: THAC0, d20 and hit points, experience and loot. They cast spells and killed monsters. It was exciting and thrilling. I always tried to linger when they played. Here was a game I thought that suited me perfectly: one with words and imagination. I might not have fully understood the concept, but I longed to play.
“Can I play with you?” I would ask.
“No. It’s only for boys.” He told me.
Despite being told “no” I would sit in the corner, next to the out of tune piano, hoping for a chance to play. To my mind, it wasn’t fair that Erik got to have all of this fun. If he was my big brother and supposed to watch out for me, I reasoned, then surely, he should allow me to join them at the big table. Occasionally, he would let me play with some of the miniatures or his dice. I loved the heavy weight of the tiny characters. My brother would painstakingly paint each one; the colors making them come alive. The clatter of the dice rolling across the table and the boisterous laughter from the boys always filled me with a longing to join in. I would sidle up next to Erik’s chair and ask questions. Typically this resulted in me getting banished from the dining room.
Years went by and my brother continued playing with a core group of friends and I still wished I could play. I would ask occasionally, but as I got older, so too did my big brother. He went to college, moved out and was suddenly a grown-up. No longer just my brother, he was an adult, with adult responsibilities.
In high school, one of my best friends had a younger brother. Donald was three years younger and although annoying at times, I adored him as a little brother. By the time he started high school, I had all but given up on ever playing D&D with my brother or anyone else. None of my friends ever showed an interest in it. But suddenly, Donald and a few of his friends started talking about and I begged him to let me play with them.
Maybe it was because I was always at his house and had gone on vacations with them, but whatever the reason, Donald agreed. In fact, he seemed enthusiastic about it. That was the year I spent more time with my best friend’s little brother than I did with her. It was weird at first, but I quickly adjusted. We did just what my brother had done: play D&D. I got to use words like THAC0 and make imaginary heroes that would save the day. Characters died and we mourned. Villains were defeated and we rejoiced. We played through the night, and since I had a car we would often end up at the local diner at three in the morning looking for snacks!
After I graduated I spent more time working than socializing and out little group fell apart. I went to college, hoping to find a group to play with again, but it wasn’t until I met Scott that I found kindred gamer. Ironically, even though D&D was one of the deciding “should we date” factors, we never really played together until after Cyra was born when I assembled a group of gamers out of new friends I had made at Flagler.
I am lucky and grateful that both my girls are interested in gaming. They have their own sets of dice and are ready to start rolling!