Teenaged Improvisation

This evening’s session of the Dungeons & Dragons Club at school had a fewer students along and the notable absence of my colleague, Mr Marks, who runs one of the tables. What was interesting is watching how the teenaged students handled this.

My friends were just as spontaneous… back in the day…

One DM, who has a fairly long-running D&D game using the Essentials Kit adventures, had only two of seven players. Rather than the worry that I felt and wrote about on Monday, this DM simply shrugged and stated, “I’ll run a one-shot”. There, at the table, he improvised a scenario and ran a game for about an hour and a half. Everyone had a good time.

The other five students who usually game with Mr Marks similarly improvised. They used the same characters but transported them to another village somewhere that was terrorised by some horrifying doom – a disease that came from some beast of evil, I think. One of the players volunteered to be DM, scribbled a rough map on a piece of paper, and off they went. I was noisy and everyone seemed to be having fun.

The third group of three students were along to play some Doctor Who. Despite owning the 1985 original game, the GM had decided they were more comfy with the current rules – they had bought their own copy of the beginner’s box they had been lent some weeks before – and simply began to continue of one of the adventures they’d been playing before. Something to do with Autons.

Having mused about my own youth and the way we played back in the 1980s, what I saw was a similar pattern: whomever turned up and wanted to join a game was welcomed; with a missing GM, one of the players stepped up to offer their friends a game; when the party was too small, they switched to another adventure. It was uncomplicated and unselfconscious.

Later, having donated a copy of the Starfinder Beginner Box to the group, I was excited to see a student open the box and begin to work out how to play. The game has gone home for deeper reading and I would not be surprised to see it in use next week. Again, what I witnessed was curiosity and enthusiasm driving this student towards play.

I enjoyed my quiet envy of their enjoyment. For children, play is the natural condition. They will simply dive in and see what happens. I am left wondering why, as old grognards, we make this harder than it needs to be.

Game on!

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