I'm one of four gunslingers, making the trek across a long and dusty road. Thunder shakes the desert, and a blue dragon crests the nearby mesa. The other three run for cover. Me? I’m nine years old. I unholster my six shooter.
“The dragon unleashes its icy breath, threatening to turn you into a popsicle. Roll a saving throw,” says Zach, the adventure’s narrator.
“Roll the 20-sided die.”
“Dice. Die is a word for dice.”
“Oh.” I think I rolled a 9.
So he killed me, the bastard.
It’s actually pretty easy to remember where all this started, that afternoon where my life took a sharp turn towards this arcane and magical world of games. With a nine year old’s imagination, and an older kid’s narration, I’d been there. I didn’t need to know the word ‘badass’ to have – at least for a few seconds – felt like one. Zach and I spent the rest of that night with the Dungeons & Dragons Red Box, a pre-arranged assortment of simplified manuals, and dice. Everything to get the young player started.
I made a burly female battle-priest. She was technically a “cleric,” but that word doesn’t do justice to the manual’s picture of some badass chick swinging a mace. It wasn’t about feminist sensibilities, or anything high-minded. At nine, there was only the simple allure of a heroine in heavy armor.
“Strength of 16?” Zach asked. This seemed to make him uneasy. “It’ll affect your Charisma. I mean, are you trying to make a female body builder?”
I was not to be deterred. Not only could this cleric heal someone after an axe-hit, she could preempt the axe-hit with a righteous blow from her mace. Only a few days after this eureka evening, one of my mom’s friends stopped by. She had a son my age. Still amped up from the other day, I asked her if Jon could come over and play some D&D.
“Dungeons and Dragons?” She asked, looking me over a little too closely, a little too critically. “That was in the news. Don’t those books have spells for summoning The Devil?”
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