I have always wanted to game with my dad but the hunger grew especially keen after he had his heart attack. He called me to let me know that he was in the hospital and getting a stent put in his chest right as my plane took off on my way back from a vacation. I spent the flight staring off into space, not sure if he would be alive when I landed and there was a thought that echoed in my head over and over until the plane landed and I called to find out that he was alive.
“I should have gamed with my dad, should have shared that thing I do with him because he’d enjoy it too and I want to show him what I have been doing all these years. I should’ve shared it with him and now I might not get to.”
Ever since, every time I see him or he comes to see me, I get a game together that I think will work and plan to game with him. Every time I come home with some bullshit excuse why we didn’t do it and that next morning I’d look myself in the mirror and say, “But there might not be a next time; we just don’t know.”
Finally, we got to game tonight.
A few months ago he told me about how he had been going to his friend’s house every week to watch the Game of Thrones television show. That friend was visiting this weekend, so I wrote up a scenario about the Dance of Dragons, in which House Targaryen is in the midst of a civil war over the heir to the Iron Throne. For the first time in Westeros history it is dragon versus dragon.
My dad was the Warden of the North, The Lord of Winterfell. His buddy was his bastard brother, the one who was willing to do the bloody deeds his Lord wasn’t willing to do.
I have so many favorite moments that I don’t know where to begin.
My dad and his buddy in battle with a Targaryen who is trying to get his dragon into the air so that it can breathe hot death on them. The bastard brother kills the dragon-rider/knight/Targaryen prince and my dad wounds the dragon a bit and as they attempt to drive the dragon into the nearby archers’ fire the Targaryen squire runs up, crying. He’s a teenage boy and he begins begging, “Please don’t hurt the dragon! Please!”
My dad: “I cut him down.”
The table goes silent and his buddy, Charles expresses shock and dismay.
“Listen, I don’t like killing kids but if that kid started giving the dragon orders that would’ve the end of us.”
As the dragon got away, badly wounded, they bickered, covered in human and dragon blood.
The bastard brother rushed up a tower of a castle with their Maester to stop a knight from burning the missives in the Maester’s tower. He guts the knight before he can burn the missives and while the knight bleeds to death he spits curses at him. “You will kneel to a queen!?! What kind of man are you?”
“What kind of man are you?”
“I’m bred from Andal-stock, men belong on thrones, not women.”
Witt was an important piece of that puzzle. He’s gamed with me for years and not only go to feed the key pieces of Westeros-lore but got to offer his own Burning Wheel-wise helping dice and prompt cool role-playing through his subtle depiction of the Maester.
We marked up a map of Westeros, my dad sending his armies hither and yon. We had a wedding at the Frey’s place. Princesses, Iron Men, dragons, ravens, battlefields, some bickering, some death and loss and a Warden of North who started to hope that if enough of the Targaryens kill each other’s dragons, maybe there could be another King in the North.
I got to visit Westeros with my father, show him what it is I have been doing all of these years and see him do it too and do it well.
Now it is time to crash out, go to sleep and dream of dragon fire.