Many of you who are regulars here, and frequently see me visiting your own blogs, may have noticed that of late, I’ve not been as caught up on things as I usually am. Comments sometimes take days to be answered, and I don’t seem to be visiting other blogs as much. There is, naturally, a reason for this.
For starters, I had to change jobs recently. While there was nothing wrong with my old one, and the pay was decent enough, the health problems my girlfriend, Storm, faces created a need for me to be able to leave work at a moments notice. My old job wasn’t terribly understanding of this. Not to say they didn’t get it, just that I probably wouldn’t have a job to come back to should I need to leave without warning.
It isn’t that I don’t get that, either. Work is work, after all. You can’t just walk out in the middle of it. Still, this was a situation that quickly proved untenable for me.
Storm’s health problems are not the kind that are going to get better, you see. The cancer can be treated, but not cured. It’s too far along now for that. She may have a year, or ten. Nobody can say. All we can do is treat it, and hope for the best, and that she knows some measure of comfort. There’s always a chance she can improve, and live normally for much of her remaining life, so that’s become our goal. For her to have that.
At the moment, she is in the care of a nursing facility nearby, where she has round the clock nurses and access to all her medication. We tried doing that at home, but it proved impossible, and she didn’t like how little sleep I was getting. So, she decided this was best, and because I am in full on support mode, I went with it.
Still, every day is possibly the day she takes a turn for the worse. So, I need to be able to drop whatever I’m doing and be by her side at a moment’s notice. My old job got that, but there was already some hemming and hawing about what “moment’s notice” implied.
Not acceptable, from where I’m standing, obviously.
Which lead me to getting in touch with an old friend of mine I’d worked for before. Actually, except for two jobs I’ve been at, in the last fifteen years I’ve worked for her exclusively. More than just an employer, she’s a dear friend. She is also dealing with a similar situation to mine, as her husband is on hospice, and there is little chance he’ll ever not need to be.
She gets the whole moment’s notice thing, is what I’m saying. All she’s asked is that, if she’s not there, I call and tell her I’m leaving. She’ll deal with the rest. That’s what I need, and I am grateful to have a friend like her right now.
I’m also good friend with her brother, who is the unofficial manager of the new place I’m working. We use to get together, he, Storm, and I, to play D&D, before life got busy and we couldn’t find the time. Naturally, as soon as you us is in a room together, we start talking that very subject.
That circle of friendship also extends to my employers kids. Her oldest son use to come hang out at my house and play video games with me and Storm, or just watch movies. Now, he’s a nurse himself, and while we never got to roll dice together, he does play and we also frequently talk about the game.
Here’s where things take an interesting turn.
His girlfriend works for his mom, and commented to me and the brother recently that she’d like to learn how to play D&D as well. He and I both figured, why not, and told her sure. Another of my co-workers chimed in shortly after that it had been twenty years since he’d played, but he’d love to get back into the game.
Suddenly, I had a party. At least four players makes a decent party, after all, as you can cover all the bases with that. The brother, son, his girlfriend, and the co-worker were all I really needed, and there they were.
Out of the blue, my boss, and friend, comments that she would also like to play. It was surprising, to say the least, but her reasons made sense to me. When she isn’t at work, she’s at home, with her husband, who is usually sleeping thanks to his pain meds. It would give her something to do other than stare at the wall and think about things she didn’t want to think about.
Trust me, I get that. A little too well.
So, now I have five. Until the brother comments that maybe the husband might come sit and play as well. Knowing him, it would surprise me, but anything is possible, and I’d happily welcome him, as he is someone I consider a close friend as well. So, now maybe six.
This requires some planning. Four is one thing. Six is another. Especially when you don’t know for sure which it’s going to be.
Making matters more fun is that we recently had another co-worker just drop out without warning, throwing the schedule into complete chaos. I worked 9 days straight, while my boss recently worked 21. While we get someone in and trained to fill that vacancy, things have been awkward, and I’ve had less time that usual.
All of which is to say, here’s how things are.
I’m dealing with the terminal illness of my girlfriend of 22 years, all while not having her at home. I’m working on the second book in the War Witch series. I’m keeping up with the original stories on this blog, and it’s regular content as well. I’m working forty and sometimes more hours a week. I’m planning a sudden D&D game with an unknown number of players. I’m trying really hard to read a good book. I’m trying even harder to get some sleep.
Yeah, I’m not doing all that real well. Sorry about that, guys. That first thing on the list is, to be honest, what I’m struggling with the most, of course. It’s not an easy thing to manage.
Still, to put everything else aside for a second, and just focus on the D&D part of this, the game should prove very interesting, at least to me, as a DM. I’ve got up to six players, only three of which have any experience, and one of them is from twenty years ago. Basically, I’m going to be teaching a lot of people how to play the game, using the new 5th Edition rules, while actively playing the game.
So, how do you tackle something like this? To be honest, it isn’t the kind of thing DM’s are unfamiliar with. This sort of thing happens to us a lot. How do you get it all organized?
First, you start by planning for the maximum number of possible players, and planning encounters according to hat. It’s easy to remove a couple of monsters, or not have one use an ability. Far easier than suddenly trying to up the ante, anyway.
Second, pre-roll some characters for the players. Since not everyone has played before, it’s easier for them if they don’t have to go through the whole character creation process. I’ve seen many would be D&D players give up on the game half way through that part, just because it’s all so daunting to people who don’t know anything about it. Having some characters already set up makes it a lot easier, because you can get them into the game faster. They can learn how everything works, and when they want to make their own character, they’ll already know just how to put it all together.
It’s also better if you at least kind of know the folks you playing with. That way you can customize the pre-rolled characters to suit their personality, making it easier for them to get into the game.
For instance, the co-worker that wants to join expressed to me that he liked magic users, but I know the guy a good bit at this point, and I know what his personality is like. So, I’ve rolled him up a black Dragonborn Sorcerer with the Pirate variant on the Sailor background. Give him a good drink, a pretty lady on his lap, and the chance to knock some heads, and he’s happy. My co-worker will be able to step right into this with out much effort.
Same goes for my boss. She’s always been the kind to live her life her way, and not give a damn what others think of her. So, for her, I’ve crafted a Tiefling Rogue, which plays right into her personality. She’s also fiercely protective of her children, so as part of her Charlatan background, I gave her the part where she has a child that doesn’t know her. All of this will make it simple for her to step into the character, but just different enough that she’ll learn the role play aspect of the game.
As for the adventure itself, I’ve put together something small. A farming community has had their children go missing in the night, and thinks it to be the work of a Goblin tribe that lives in the woods nearby. As a DM, I lean towards the school of nothing ever being as simple as it seems, however. This can be both a straightforward smash and grab, or a more complex situation, depending on how the players choose to handle things. Their choices will determine which way the narrative goes, and what happens as a result.
There’s only two to three encounters, only one of which can’t be avoided entirely, but can be handled without fighting if the players decide it. Pretty much the entire thing can be tackled with good persuasion or deception rolls. It’s all up to them.
Now, the obvious question burning in your mind is if I am so overwhelmed with everything that’s going on in my life, why would I take some of my very limited time to put together a D&D game?
The answer, to put it very simply, is that I need it. Right now, this is something I need, for me. I don’t know any better way to explain it that that. I need this. I need to be sitting around a table, with friends, rolling dice, and laughing. More than almost anything else, I need that.
Without it, I fear I will drown under the weight of it all. With it, I think I can manage.
That won’t make a lot of sense to some of you, I know that. Trust me on this, though. It’s about more than just rolling some dice and having a make believe adventure. It’s about that time spent with friends. It’s about stepping back from my problems for a short time, and being able to come at them with a fresh perspective. It’s about just catching my breath.
It’s about doing something, beside sitting here, staring at the walls, and thinking on all the things I don’t want to think about right now. They will break me if I do. I know that.
Yes, I’ve been remiss of late in keeping up with things, and doing all the stuff I need to be doing. I hope you’ll understand that, for a bit here, I’m going to need a bit of time for something that helps me deal with the thing that looms ever on my horizon. A life without the woman I love.
For a little while, I’m going to be a bit selfish, and do something I need to do to stay sane in the face of that. My apologies, and of course, as much as possible, I’ll still be talking with, and visiting, all of you that comment and have blogs of your own. I’m just not going to be as prompt about it all.
I hope you’ll forgive that. I hope you’ll understand that. Most of all, as this little D&D adventure plays out, and I share how it all goes, you’ll be entertained by it. Because that’s what I plan to do. Share it here.
I guess what I’m really getting at with all this is that, right now, and for a bit to come, I need to be doing something that’ll keep me a little busy, for reasons that I truly hope none of you ever have to understand fully. I’d like to have you along for the ride, though. That seems like fun to me.
Anyway, that’s what’s going on, and why I’ve been kind of out of it for a while. As work settles down, I should settle down as well, and if all goes well, there’ll be a recap of the D&D game I’m going to be running here soon showing up.
One Storm already plans to get it on. So there’s the other reason for it. To give her something to look forward to.
Guess it isn’t entirely selfish after all.