Last night I had the privilege to DM a kickoff session of D&D with my 11-year-old son and two of his friends. It was incredibly successful and everyone left excitedly bellowing about their characters and what they planned on doing during the next session. For me, the experience was joyful and life-giving—which sounds like, but totally is not, an exaggeration. Not only is D&D an escape from reality—much needed in the current moment, imho—but last night was a chance to specifically escape into the wonderful world of tween boys. It’s a hilarious and, perhaps unsurprisingly, gruesome place.

I’m thankful for the opportunity because it’s a necessarily short one. Dad-as-DM has a limited window and, honestly, is a position of planned obsolescence; I can already tell which one of the three will take over the DM screen and run their own adventures that’ll undoubtedly be twice as fun and a thousand times more gruesome.

Some particulars that I found helpful in preparing for last night’s session:

  • Doritos. It’s not D&D without Doritos! I mean, that’s what one of the Ds stands for!
  • I downloaded the pregenerated Starter Set Character Sheets and assigned them randomly by having players roll for them. I wasn’t trying to spend 45 minutes arguing over who got to be the fighter.
  • We ran the very first parts of the Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign. This is at least the third time I’ve been involved in this particular campaign, and, whew, I’m pretty tired of it. I’m interested in this new beginners campaign (Dragon of Icespire Peak), and, if I would have had more time, would have bought it to run instead.
  • Reading through Sly Flourish’s Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master beforehand was particularly helpful and empowering.
  • We played for two hours and made it through exactly two encounters. They spent a lot of time looting bodies.
  • They renamed Hansforth Willrod, my dwarven cleric NPC, to “Fatty Jim” and then later to “Chubby Joe.”