Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pirates & Knights

Luke & Dad's Sixth Year and Three Quarters

As a child peering through an airplane window, I saw the cars far below and perceived toys. I couldn't fathom the miniature cars real. Adulthood is looking down and seeing just plain cars, not being able to fathom having seen toys.

Childhood reality is colored vy imagination first and foremost, not greyed by the black and whites of adulthood. To you, the pine trees adjacent our house are a sure congregating place for local wood pixies, not a subspecies of XXX that must've cost thousands.

As a little boy, I too saw magic in trees. My mom took me to visit London and aside from taking an accidental plunge into a fish pond as Londoners were taking tea -- a story Grangie will never let me forget -- I visited St. Paul's Cathedral where a very old oak tree lived. Convinced the gnarled but grand tree was housing for a faery, I stayed glued to it as the tour group carried my mom away. I wasn't leaving until I caught a glimpse.

Playing with you summons back that kid staring at the oak. Together with Cash, the three of us often live in an imaginary world, reenacting battles from our favorite books or movies. We've created a game we call Pirates & Knights fashioned after the classic roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Everything about Pirates & Knights is made up from the characters you role play to the environment you explore and monsters you face.

Well, one thing isn't imaginary: the infusion of probability. Every material action in the game is assigned a probabilistic hurdle to achieve it. The probabilities are calculated taking attributes of your character and matching those against your foe, a mathematical process that makes you adept at calculating figures in your head. Dice are rolled to establish the outcome. I hope an appreciation of math, probability and risk results.

Together, you and Cash have explored several worlds as the characters Aragon and Firechain respectively. Aragon's name isn't the most original; his image is: a formidable mage elf shrouded in shimmering black, armed with a dark staff topped with an ice-blue sapphire of power. Firechain is a reflection of his puppeteer: dashing, brave and a taste for flashy things. He is an elf like Aragon but there the similarities end. Firechain is a fighter through and through with a touch of pirate in his smirk. He sports shiny red armor and flaming swords, two of them, that have been attributed the team's most famous kill blows.

As a duo, you've conquered mystical beasts, solved challenging riddles and plundered treasure. You've saved a few maidens (though the maidens themselves were hardly incentive enough without treasure). Even the vilest of emerald dragons, Dexet, could not stop you. Aragon entrapped the beast in an inventive sphere of lightening and FireChain the plunged his searing sword into the beast, smiting him.

The reward of Pirates & Knights is watching your imagination animate you. You both jump up and down, wildly gesticulating, screaming as you engage invisible combatants. Furthermore, the activity has ignited an outpouring of creativity untethered by a published story or movie. Original drawings of your adventures have multiplied throughout our household. Unsatisfied with my monsters, you guys have taken to creating all manner of creatures that we've consolidated into a monster compendium.

Needless to say, fostering the imagination is important to me. Seeing your ability to harness it and forge creative work is awesome. These abilities have shown up at River School where your teachers, commenting on your progress in the Otter class, said you are the most creative kid in class!

That's not the only thing they commented on. At our final parent teacher conference of the yeare, Mrs. XXX was gushing a bit on how likable you are saying,

"I want to have a beer with Luke when he is 21 years old."