At the beginning of the month, I realized that I needed to play the role as DM in our humble school Dungeons and Dragons club. Thanks to Stranger Things, the game blew up this year and everyone wants to play. In a flash of inspiration (or dorkiness…or both), I decided to pick up a Halloween related adventure to lead a group through. This is the last week in October, so I expected to go out with a bang with our Curse of Strahd finale.
Best laid plans and all that. The sixth grade and, my entire play group, went on a field trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. They told me the day before that the trip would end around 3:30, which is when the group usually started to get antsy and disbanded for the afternoon. So, imagine my surprise when I heard a knock on the door at about 3:15.
Sometimes Teaching is About Cutting Your Losses
Initially excited to be able to lead the group again, that quickly changed. They took almost 20 minutes to settle down. One would say, “Let’s get started.” to the others, then jump up and another would repeat the process. So, I should have known that things might not go well.
When we finally sat down to play, things initially went okay and my fears started to subside. Then, one of the players tried “massaging” a die roll here and there. I called him out on it once during a “hit roll”. Towards the end of the session, I let one go. It was only an initiative roll. It felt like the right thing to do, but it clearly wasn’t.
Another player got angry about it and refused to roll for his turn during combat. When we finally convinced him to do so, he rolled a hit and then intentionally knocked the die over to a miss. I threw my hands up and said, “Sorry, guys, I can’t do this today.” They started some in fighting and I laid my cards on the table. “No, it’s all of us. This just isn’t working right now. We’ll try again next week.”
If this ends up being the Curse of Strahd finale, it ends not with a bang but a whimper. I knew from the beginning that things might go sideways and they ended up doing just that. The fear that I ruined D&D for my family by not being a great Dungeon Master the one time that we tried to play is now rising with these guys. They asked the last couple of weeks to play more on Friday and now I leave them with this bad taste for week. Maybe I’m overthinking things. Even so, I think I might try to find another adventure to run for next week. One of them said that they wanted to fight dragons.
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