Last week, my preschooler son Sam came home with his very first homework assignment. The task was simple and seasonally festive: he was to sit down with me and his mom and talk about the things he was thankful for in his life, then we’d all make a poster together that involved those things. Having a child of mine respond with “meat”, “food”, and “snacks” was not a real surprise — but this nerd-papa nearly burst at the seams with pride when he said he was thankful for “thunder” and “Mjölnir.” At the end, he summarized everything by saying, “my life is cool city“. I couldn’t disagree. It also made me take stock in what I’m thankful for. I don’t have a preschool class to turn my homework in, so I guess you guys will have to do.
So, without further ado, the stuff I am thankful for, conveniently filtered for nerd/game content only:
A Supportive Wife
My wife isn’t much of a gamer, but she understands gaming is one of the things that makes me tick. She’s cool with me having a bunch of loud and enthusiastic people venting all their pent up nerd-energy at my house every week. She doesn’t get everything I write about here, but she supports me disappearing for a night every week to go write about what I love. She even watches our son for a few days while I go running off to conventions.
I didn’t really get how important it was to have this until I met people who didn’t. I know people whose significant other is not only unsupportive, but actively hostile toward their partner’s passion for gaming. I’ve seen guys and ladies alike belittled in front of their friends. It made me very thankful that I have someone who will lift me up instead of tear me down, and it makes me want to return the favor for the stuff she enjoys.
Fact is, I couldn’t do half the stuff I do without my wife having my back. This is but one of a veritable cornucopia of reasons I love that woman.
Good Friends To Game With
At the beginning of 2011, I hadn’t played D&D regularly for close to two years. WOW, that sucked.
Going to DDXP in January finally lit a fire in me, taking me from lying there wishing I had a gaming group again to trying to make it happen. Most everyone in the group I knew through my job. Some were in my previous group. Some I’d known for awhile. Two had worked with us but took a job elsewhere. One was a new guy at work who had never played D&D before. Those first few weeks were a giant magical hot mess, but boy were they a lot of fun.
We just started gelling as a group when a funny thing happened: I got laid off one day, and another member of our group got laid off the next. Suddenly, our group wasn’t just a game night to me. It was the only time I got to see these friends at all. For a few weeks there, we’d spend more time talking and catching up than we did playing — but that’s what we needed. I took this sort of thing for granted in my last group, and it really sucked when people moved away and everything sort of disintegrated. There’s always the possibility of that, what with people having families and jobs and stuff, but I’m glad I can at least appreciate it while I still have it. We’re even pretty low-drama.
I put my poor players through things no brain should ever have to endure. Considering this, I’m grateful to have a group that can roll with my oddly-shaped punches and still have fun. We’ve got some good tacticians in the group, and I am continuously amazed at the good roleplaying these people can do. I still feel pretty shaky as a DM, but my players make me want to get better at it.
My group rocks. But I’m still going to kill them all. Thankfully. With rocks.
This Here Bloggernet
I don’t know if any of you have noticed yet, but I like telling weird stories. I had a job several years back where I barely had to do anything except for one week a year, so I pretty much blogged all day long. Not long after, several of my very best friends in the universe and I were playing D&D and realized we could blog about our experiences. We started up Stupid Ranger in 2007, and we had no clue what we were doing. There were D&D blogs to be found, but not in the numbers (or quality) you can find today. Martin Ralya was our idol, and we kept running into some guy calling himself the “Chatty DM”. (There was also some site we wanted to be like run by some guy called The Game or something. I wonder whatever happened to him….)
I’m thankful for my friends from that group and for the lightning we bottled every week. It was exciting enough to me to get me to want to write about it. I’m also thankful to have had several really good DMs, whose advice I still listen to today. I wish I could still play with these guys regularly. I miss it.
Since then, I’ve made a lot of really good friends and hung out with really cool people who work in the industry. (Some of the first group started turning into the second group, even!) Nothing inspires me like being around other really creative people, and we have that around here in spades. If you’re even half paying attention, you’ll learn something new or get a new idea to play with whether you like it or not. I’m thankful both for the fantastic community we’ve got, and for the opportunity to be here and subject all of you every week to whatever’s on my mind.
A Little Thunder God
I couldn’t have a list of things I’m thankful for without including my boy Sam. I can’t count the number of ways he’s made me grow up, but the part that keeps surprising me is how he encourages me to drop some of these stupid “adult” limitations and think and act like a kid again. He invents scenarios for his toy cars and trains pretty much continuously, and I am now very much aware that a silver and orange jetpack is not as fast as a black and white striped one.
I’m thrilled that he’s almost old enough to introduce some more structured gaming to, and I think it’s super cool that I’ll get to show him lots of old games and experience lots of new ones with him. I don’t want to rush the years away when he’s still little and adorable, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really looking forward to him being 10 and us spending frequent evenings playing whatever game space kids with jetpacks call a good time.
I’m thankful for the Thunder God’s hammer, too. Is this considered plagiarism?