This, thankfully, isn’t another guide about what to do when you’re isolating yourself, or a FAQ about Sheltering in Place. Nor is it batch of handy tips about how to educate your child now that they are with you 24/7. There are plenty of those already. Man, just so many.
To the above I say, thank you, we have all gotten the memo.
This is How We Live Now
We’re in the Bay Area so our lives have changed drastically. Maybe these changes are coming to where you are, but regardless, life is going to be a lot different for awhile. This is it. This is the new normal.
Am I adjusting to it as well as I’d like? No. But there’s no choice really. I’ve got people scattered all over the country and nothing I can do for them beyond checking in. It’s probably the same for you.
Luckily we are not trapped indoors. (Maybe we should tell our neighbors?!?) We’re all trying to be solid citizens around here, but exercise is allowed! There are lots of opportunities for hiking and walking. Just this morning Xander and I strolled down a street we’ve never been on, watched a big lumber delivery, and held a ginormous earth worm. I’m realizing I would go mad pretty quickly without a physical outlet, and my son would literally bounce off the walls. I guess we’d get through a total quarantine somehow, but it would be rough.
The boy has been reading and writing and we’ve got a batch of extra exercises we’ve been saving from school “just in case.” So we’re starting with some old unfinished assignments and working up to the present. He does a little online learning every day. Sometimes I let him lead the way with self-driven design and drawing. My sister bought us a big chunk of the old Prince Valiant reprints over the summer and we’re getting back into those, too.
(Summer, Jesus, that feels like a long time ago now. Hell, even February feels like a different planet.)
Also, there’s just lots of practical around-the-house things I can see Xan is ready for. He cut up some oranges with the sharp knife and retained all his digits. (I lean into the idea that this is not the time for emergency room visits.) He also read(!) the directions for a scone recipe, and helped Mom to put it all together. He’s doing great. I’ve always heard kids are the most adaptable. I’m seeing it action. Of course he doesn’t have the quite the same burden as we do. We’re trying to keep it that way. Still, he’s going to be a different person for going through this, I just hope it’s in a good way.
What about Games? I was Promised Games!
Is this why I collected so many games over the years? So we’d have it for the rainy day of all rainy days? Not sooo much of my hoard is age appropriate for a 7-year-old to be, but we have boardgames and RPGs in quantity. Books, too, naturally!
The biggest gaming development of the week revolves around Ticket to Ride: First Journey. This is a stripped down version of the grown-up TTR game, and wonder of wonders, it’s still fun for adults to play. (My buddy Michael in Austin is stuck in the Go Fish Endless Loop. I’m thankful we’ve avoided that.) The playing time of First Journey is only about 20 minutes, but you feel like you’ve done something by the end. I’m liking the sneaky geography lessons… Now Xander knows Duluth and Miami exist! I suspect we’ll play this into the ground and then be on to something else. But, at last, Xander is embracing that boardgames have, you know, rules.
I’d very much like to get back into playing Untold: Adventures Await. GMless story-telling is about where I’m at right now. And there are lots of Kaiju left to wrangle with after our first game. Unfinished business!
As for bigger kid games, we got started on Epyllion awhile ago, but it’s just dangling out there after a couple of sessions. I hate that it is. We had too many unfinished family games growing up, and I’ve been determined for us to get closure on the things that we start. It’s a weird hang-up, but there it is. I think I have to get my lockdown legs under me before I’m going to have the energy for real GMing.
Now that we’re back into reading the reprints, I might try to get Greg Stafford’s elegant Prince Valiant: The Storytelling Game to the table. It’s dead simple, and potentially very amusing.
Kicking and Screaming
In my heart I know the true magic of RPGs is the sacred circle formed when we play in person. But the new reality means you game with who you already live with… or online. My buddy Brian is the guy in our group with the most experience for streaming play, so he’s going to try to get us set up on Roll20, etc., etc. I’m hoping this means we’ll get to game with our buddy Lex who left us for Europe in the fall. (What’s up Alexei!)
I can see the possibility for connecting to interesting new folks online, but it just seems like a shit ton of work on top of everything else. Honestly, I’d really enjoy playing some story heavy games over streaming. In some ways that’s the most natural fit. I’ve been itching to play more things like the excellent Cthulhu Dark, or finally get to the obscure On Mighty Thews. I’ll just have to see what my new world of responsibilities can include.
I hope all of you are well.
I really do.
I’m freezing my ass off on an isolated bench as I write this. Sometimes you just need a little space. I’ve already thrown a fit at home and it’s probably not the last one.
But I’m trying.
We’re all trying… but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.