In which I become a Dungeon Master

One of the challenges being a geek in the corporate world is finding people to game with. Sure, if you’re going to do Fantasy Football (and I do) or Madden 2012 (which I will when I get it on Tuesday – Woot!) you can usually find someone in the office who plays. But, Dungeons and Dragons? Heroclix? Heroscape? Not very likely.

If I want to find someone to play those games, I have to get creative.  Take Heroclix. Heroclix was my gateway drug into collectible miniatures. But once I got those first few boosters, I struggled to figure out who I might pull in, then I realized…the kids! Unfortunately, they were 4 and 6 at the time, but I was quite sure I could teach them. How do I justify this to my wife though? Math! Heroclix is all about math when rolling attacks, defenses, etc. It was a good plan and it really did get them adding and subtracting in their head. I think they even learned something about strategy (assuming the strategy was gang up on Dad or throw a fit when you lose).

Jumping into Heroclix began to expand my trip into the world of gaming. I learned about message boards and that stores actually host games! Who knew? I didn’t. So the boys and I would roll down to the shops and watch, then ultimately play. It was a great learning experience for all of us. (I’m always amazed how gracious gamers are with kids.) This opened up a whole world of possibility for group play.

But as time wore on I was looking for new games to play. Then, Dungeons and Dragons 4e came out. I hadn’t played D&D since I was 13 (maybe AD&D at the time?) and I really wanted to play this game. Fortunately, a couple of local game shops were hosting D&D gamedays where you could demo the products. So, off the boys (now 10 and 12) and I went to the stores. We had a great time. To this day, the boys talk about “Flame Seed Guy,” a guy playing a Druid who threw a flame seed into a room full of flour or something. He created a conflagration that not only took out the enemies, but did substantial damage to our team! Flame Seed Guy’s real name was Brad and he and I spoke a lot throughout the game, mostly me going on about how I really wanted to play D&D regularly.

At the end of the game, Brad told me that his 4e group was looking for a 5th member. Someone had dropped out and they really needed a 5th character, would I like to give it a whirl. I jumped on the chance. This lead to a great 15 months of gaming for me. The group was great and I learned a lot not only about playing, but how to DM effectively as well. Our DM, Rob really worked hard on our adventures and he ran a very cinematic game. But, as these things do, the group ended. I really wanted to play more D&D 4e but the group was moving on to Savage Worlds.

During this D&D campaign I was relentlessly tweeting pictures and descriptions of our games. I found out that some local friends were quite jealous of my being able to play, and if a seat was ever open….? That seat never opened up in our game, but as noted, I really wanted to play. Over time I came to realize that the only way I was going to play more 4e was to run a 4e game. But that seemed like so much work and I had so much doubt that I could do it. But my desire to play only grew. Sure, I could run some delves for the boys, but that just wasn’t the same. So after a couple of months, I took the plunge.

I reached out to the friends who had expressed so much interest and they immediately jumped on board. It’s a great group of people from diverse backgrounds who share a common interest in D&D (and for the most part craft beer, a story for another day). Bi-weekly games don’t work for our group. We have tried to commit to playing once a month. Two games in it’s gone really well, better than I expected. Our next game is in just a few weeks and I really can’t wait.

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In which I explain why I teared up at the end of Captain America

(To be clear here, I said teared up, not wept.)

A couple of weeks ago the boys (they’re 14 and 12 for the uninitiated) and I went out to see Captain America, the First Avenger. Without a doubt this was the best superhero movie we saw all summer and definitely one of the top 3 I’ve seen since the current superhero movie run began.

Seeing movies like this with the boys is important to me. Of all the geek stuff I am into, comics are my #1 passion. Aside from a brief collection stoppage when I first got married, I have collected comics since I was about 13.  I have worked hard to pass this along to both boys.  I started out sharing comics with them early, both reading them to the kids and getting additional superhero books for them to read. They both have at least a long box of their own (which hold double capacity the way they have them piled and jammed in there, no CGC 9.8 ratings in there ).

The along came the superhero movies. When X-Men came out in 2000 they were way too young to watch it with me. I showed them clips and trailers though, longing for the day when we could share the full experience. Little did I know then how comic book movies would explode through the 2000s. So many great (and good) movies were made. More often than not I went to see them alone or worked to convince a friend to hit the movies with me. My wife is geek adjacent (thank Wil Wheaton) so she understands my love for these things but that doesn’t always extend to sharing that experience (unless Hugh Jackman is in the movie).

So accelerate now to the closing minutes of Captain America. Sure it’s a bit sad as we realize that Steve will never get that dance. But that’s not what choked me up. As I watched the last minutes of that movie, after watching so many fun superhero movies with the boys this summer, I realized what a great summer it has been. At a certain level this is what I always wanted Fatherhood to be, to share my interests and passions and to pass them along. Then I realized that they’re 14 and 12, they were just toddlers when X-Men came out. But it seems like just yesterday. And now I have only a few years left with them to share these experiences. I want to cherish each and every opportunity I have over the next few years before they head off to college and their own, independent lives.

And that my friends, is why I teared up (I did not weep) at the end of Captain America. They were tears of joy and love for my boys who all to soon will be men.