Family Game Nights: Dungeons & Dragons

Banner image of Dungeons And Dragons Basic Rules Set from 1980s superimposed over zoomed in image of box cover. Text reads "Family Game Nights: D&D" and "Off The TBR"

In an attempt to get out of this blogging slump I’ve been in lately I’m trying something new. Will it succeed? Who knows. That depends on a number of factors, but it’s worth a shot if it will get me out of this funk, and maybe I’ll enjoy it…hopefully you will too.

So what is this new thing? Well, I’m gonna try to blog about family game night playing Dungeons & Dragons!

But This Is A Book Blog

How does family game night and D&D fit on a blog about book reviews you ask? I’m justifying it on three fronts:

  • We’ll be playing through pre-written modules which come in book form and thus are on a TBR of sorts
  • D&D heavily influenced my decision to start reading fantasy
  • It’s my f’ing blog I can do what I want

So now that the justification is out of the way what am I planning on doing? I thought I’d write a post or two about what got me here and gearing up for the first game session. Then I hope to post about each session and what hijinks the party gets themselves into. Will it last? Who knows…that depends on me (with the writing) and the fam (if we keep playing). For now I’m taking it one step at a time.

How We Got Here

I started playing D&D back in second grade with the old Basic Rules. That’s right, the old red box with that classic image of a fighter fending off a dragon in it’s den. This was back in…(let me count on my fingers)…the fall of1983 or spring of 1984.

Image of Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules box cover. Dragon fending off a fighter in a dungeon.
Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules box set from 1983

Every day after school I would go over to my friend Stephen’s house and his older brother would watch us. One of the things he did to pass the time was get us to play games. Not any old board games mind you, those were for kids. No, we played military tactical games like Squad Leader (still have my copy…see below) and Cross of Iron. We played vehicle combat games like Car Wars. And we played role playing games like James Bond 007, and Star Trek, and Star Frontiers (TSR’s sci-fi game). But my absolute favorite was Dungeons & Dragons.

At that age the Basic Rules set was perfect for me. I even asked my parents to buy me my own box. Keep in mind this was back during the height of the panic when all the conservative Christians were trying to scare everyone into thinking the game was evil and that kids would worship the devil and hurt themselves while playing. Thankfully my parents didn’t buy into all that nonsense and one day I came home to find my very own set waiting for me. I loved it. Though I no longer have the books I do still own some of the dice. Back then they came with a wax crayon that you had to use to color in the numbers!

Picture of my dice from original D&D Basic Rules box set. Red 4 sided, Orange 20 sided, and Yellow 12 sided.

As time went on we moved on to the Expert Rules and then eventually made a jump to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I usually played a fighter or a Cleric, we often had to rely on the Dungeon Master (DM) to play a Non-Player Character (NPC) to get us through but I loved every minute of it.

My friend and his brother moved away after another year or so but some other friends picked up AD&D not long after and we’d play on occasion. It wasn’t the same with them because we didn’t play often (typically one-shots) and usually when we got together it was to play football, or baseball, or basketball. So by the time I was in Middle School I’d kinda moved away from D&D. By this time most of the people I knew didn’t think it was cool, and it was for the “freaks.” But I still had my boxed set and a couple other books I’d bought, and I still secretly wanted to play. It was the influence the game had on me that caused me to so readily decide to start reading the Dragonlance novels in middle school which became my gateway books into reading fantasy and eventually led me to this blog. So if not for D&D you wouldn’t be following my reviews.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and married that my chance finally came. My boss at the time (who was older than me) used to play in college and most of his group were still in town. We were in Tallahassee and had all gone to Florida State, and me and my wife and boss all worked there. His old DM had moved back to town and they had started gaming again. They invited us to join their game. Soon game night was at our house every week. My wife would cook, the other guys would bring drinks, and we were playing D&D!

This was 1999 -2000 or so and at this point we were playing an AD&D 2nd Edition homebrew campaign. We then tried to transition to 3rd Edition. That lasted a little while but the group broke up for a number of reasons and my D&D playing stopped again until the onset of 5th Edition. By this time we were living in Kentucky and my kids were old enough to play with some guidance. I bought the Starter Set in something of an homage to my childhood. Now I was the DM for the first time in my life. The kids chose characters and we played through The Lost Mine of Phandelver. The sessions had their ups and downs, but the kids really enjoyed it. And I did too. Phandelver was a great module for new players and a lot of fun.

A couple years ago I bought the Essentials Kit and we started playing through Dragon of Icespire Peak but once again a number of things just came up in our lives and we never finished. But by this time we’d convinced my wife to play again which helped balance the party (and I didn’t need to play an NPC).

It’s been a while since we really had family game night. I miss it. My wife misses it. My kids miss it. We all seemed to enjoy D&D. It has always been this game following me wherever I go that I’ve always wanted to return to. I’d love to play a player character again with a group at some point, but for now I’m going to take joy from being DM and gaming with the fam.

So we are gonna play, and I’m gonna try to blog about it as we go. I have no idea if we’ll keep up the game, or if I’ll keep up with the blog posts, or if anyone will care about reading them. We’ll see. But I hope some of you will find this fun and entertaining. More to come…

4 thoughts on “Family Game Nights: Dungeons & Dragons

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