Dungeons & Dragons has been, quite frankly, a huge part of my life. I started playing in 1978 when I was twelve years old. Some of my oldest friends took up the game as well and it wasn’t long before we became close friends with a slew of other like-minded people.
The first person I got to share my passion for gaming with was Brent Smith. We’d been pals since kindergarten. We played ball together, traded books and comics and bubblegum cards, watched the same tv shows… it was only natural that we’d fall into Dungeons & Dragons together.
This past weekend, Brent’s son Kasey took his father’s place at our gaming table. He sat next to my own son, Connor, and I couldn’t have been more proud. Kasey, 12, and Connor, 11, are becoming fast friends. Seeing them sitting there on the other side of my DM screen I couldn’t help but flash back on Brent’s and my younger selves.
The torch was passed.
After our session with the boys ended, and we old men were left to sling dice late into the evening (as we’ve been doing for nearly forty years), Shaun Keenan shared a story that sort of cemented our youthful dedication to the game.
He recalled a time in high school when school had been cancelled due to snow. Brent drove his snowmobile from Converse to Sweetser (8 miles) to pick him up and ride to Swayzee (12 miles) to Chris and Mark Kaiser’s house to play D&D. Brent must have been 13 or so, Shaun 15.
Brent had insisted Shaun wear a helmet… something that came in handy when Shaun fell off the back end and cracked his head against the ice covered highway. But they soldiered on and slung dice in the Kaisers kerosene-infused home, the destination being almost as dangerous as the journey itself.
And now, here we are, decades later and we’re passing the torch to our children and honoring the memories of those no longer with us.
We caught a lot of flack back in the day from the religious right, folks who labeled us devil worshipers and worse because of a fantasy game we played. I am happy that my son and Brent’s won’t have to suffer through the same. But even more so, I’m honored that the friends Brent and I grew up with and slung dice with now get to do the same with these young men. And even better, I’d like to think that some day, they’ll pass the torch on to their own children and the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club will live on…