Friday, June 03, 2016

Role-Playing Games, Part III

This post is very difficult for me to write, because it’s impossible to set up the context enough for anyone but me and my son to fully grasp.

Really, ya had ta be there.

But I can’t NOT share it. Partly because I set it up so well with the earlier posts on Role-Playing Games (part I here, and part II here), but also because it filled my soul with so much joy. So, I’m going to do my best, in spite of it all.

First, I believe that it is my God-given responsibility to raise my family in righteousness. It is my job to help all of my children learn to understand that their life choices now will impact their lives later, and the lives of those around them. It’s my job to help them learn to make choices that will lead to happiness and joy, as opposed to selfishness and bitterness. Ultimately, within my beliefs, it’s my responsibility to teach them things that will lead them to Eternal Life and Exaltation. This is a very difficult task, and one where I have not always, or even not very often, felt success.

So, as you read in these posts, as my sons started to bug me to play Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games, and as we reworked the game to satisfy my issues, I looked at it at first as a simply opportunity to have some fun and do some family bonding. Some guys take their sons fishing and hunting. In our house, we roll d20s.

Very quickly, however, I realized that I had the opportunity, as the gamemaster, to shape the flow of the stories to be able to teach my kids eternal truths about the nature of good and evil, and how to realize which side you’re on. I saw how I could show that choices have consequences, both good and bad. Standing up for what they believe in, even in the fiction of a game, is important.

This last adventure, over the course of the last few months, was particularly steeped in religious and spiritual imagery. They were grappling with issues of selfishness and darkness vs light and service.

I could spend pages describing the story as the characters chased across the land, even through dimensional travel in search of powerful artifacts known as the “Dona Creatori” (The Gifts of the Creator). The party, in a final climactic battle, entrapped the demon that had come to corrupt and control the high priests of the major church of the land.

At that point, Brendon’s character was faced with a choice. He was in a position to take over. He could easily keep running the church and bask in all the wealth and power that would bring him. Or, he could step back and allow the uncorrupted lower priests to step up and lead the church into a new era of righteousness.

He ended up choosing the latter option, and we wrapped up the loose ends of the adventure and “closed the book”, so to speak.

Today, we were talking about that decision, and he was explaining to me how his character (who started out conflicted and even a bit of a bad guy) ended up choosing the right. He told me about his thoughts through the sessions that had led up to that conflict and as he had interacted with the ghostly Champions of the Creator that helped the party find the Dona. He told me that he had wanted his character to be worthy of the donum, as the Champion had said (again, to really “get” this, you would have either had to be there, or I would have to write the novel).

As he was telling me all of this, I thought to myself: THIS is why we play RPGs as a family. Such a powerful time for both of us to learn, by doing, by living vicariously through our character sheets and our dice. We learn, we grow, and we grow together.

My heart swelled up, and I almost cried as he was telling me. Two years after beginning to make The Hero’s Tale, we arrive at this point. THIS is why I game. THIS is me, being a father.

I guess sometimes, I do get to get it right.


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post,

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