Community Blog: Celebrating Father’s Day

Thursday, June 10, 2021

In today’s blog we celebrate the fathers and father figures in our community. As we pause to honor and reflect on fathers of all kinds, we also recognize the many different feelings and memories that arise from this day. Whatever Father’s Day means to you, and wherever you are in the difficult journey of fatherhood, know that we’re grateful. Whether you’re a father (or father figure), have a father, or have memories of your father, and whatever those experiences may mean to you, fatherhood is one of the things that binds most of us together—wherever, whenever, and whoever we are.

Two separate illustrations of the pathfinder and starfinder iconics with 'community blog' in white text overlayed over the top

When I was approached about writing the Father’s Day blog, I accepted right away, knowing it would be relatively straightforward to come up with some clever gaming puns or some Father’s Day gifts in the form of silly magic items. (What dad doesn’t want a pair of argyle socks that magically clean and fold themselves?) Over the coming days, as I reflected on my five years of fatherhood (and counting), and on my own father, trying to come up with more ideas for a roleplaying game-related Father’s Day blog, I realized jokes were my easy way out. Surely, I thought, I could write something deep and meaningful about my first RPG session with my five-year-old son. So, this past weekend, I sat down to plan a game for him. That also would not turn out exactly as I planned.

I felt intense pressure to get it right. I wanted something great to write about for the blog, of course, but I also needed it to be right for my son. After all, I thought, roleplaying games have deeply impacted my own life. My brother and I remain close, even into adulthood, in no small part because of roleplaying games. I met my spouse and my dearest friends through roleplaying games. Playing and writing those games has gotten me through many difficult times. I’ve seen tabletop games have a similar impact on countless others. I had to be a great dad and get it right for my son.

I faltered. How could I ever meet such expectations? Thinking of roleplaying games and fatherhood reminded me that my brother and I started playing right around the time our own father began to have less presence in our lives. This only increased the pressure I was putting on myself. At a time in my life when I most needed a father, roleplaying games filled the void in a way. Roleplaying games helped me learn collaboration, cooperation, creativity, resilience, compassion—and even provided an outlet for pent up emotions. (Speaking of things we can learn from our dads. Ha.)

The day before I’d planned to run my son’s first session, I was tired, dinner was over, and it was time to play before getting ready for bed. I wasn’t thinking about the blog, and my complex emotions about fatherhood meant I had no plans for the game. When my son and I went to play, one of the most surreal experiences of my life unfolded. He asked if I wanted to build a maze with him using some magnetic tiles—one of his favorite toys. Of course, I said, but you’ll need to show me how. He laid out a basic floor plan. He put up some walls. I watched as he carefully considered the placement of each tile, occasionally changing his mind about the direction of a given corridor, or where the entrance would be. He blocked off one of the paths and told me that’s where the bad guys hide. You had to sneak past, or they’d come out and get you. He went to get his toy cars—they’d fit perfectly in the maze. He put in a few bad guys. He put another in the deepest part of the maze and told me I had to rescue it. He gave me another car, said it was me, and picked up one for himself. He drove through the maze, arrived at an intersection, and asked me which way we should go. Your turn, Papa. We went through the maze. We laughed when I was too loud, and the bad guy popped out of the wall to get me. I escaped and drove around until the bad guy got lost in his own maze. Good job, Papa, but you should be more quiet next time. We went and rescued the car. We made it out before the bad guy found us—but just barely!

Without ever having learned himself, my son taught me to play an RPG on a whim, with a map and secret doors and all. He had a story in mind—one he came up with on his own—and we worked together to tell the story. He taught me to try again even when I messed up. He taught me to take turns and look out for each other. When he suggested I fight the bad guy car, and I asked if we could be gentle instead, he respected the boundary I set. He told me that was a good idea and helped me find a creative solution.

This was not so different from the way we usually play, but with the uncanny similarities to sitting down for a game of Pathfinder or Starfinder, I was stunned. Thinking on it, I didn’t know exactly how my son learned all those things—collaboration, compassion, creativity—especially when his access to other adults over the past year has been far more limited than usual. Surely, he learned a bit from me, but also from his mother, friends, grandparents, teachers, and from aunts and uncles. As I tucked him in and he told me, “Papa, I love you, you’re my best friend,” I was somewhat confident he learned to spontaneously express his feelings because I’d modeled it for him. I didn’t think I could take full credit for all of the other things, but I was certain that roleplaying games helped me become the sort of father who could raise a good man. Of course, I still didn’t have good ideas for his first “real” session.

But I sure did know what I was going to write about for the Father’s Day blog.

Mike Kimmel
Pathfinder Society Developer

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Tags: Community Paizo Paizo Staff
Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

9 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm not tearing up I'm just allergic to good blogs


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I’m also not tearing up. My eyeballs are sweating.

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Gosh, the allergies really are bad in here. Must be pollen.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Way to bring a tear to my eye! So happy for you.

And Happy Father's Day to all the fathers, father-figures, and parents out there.

Vigilant Seal

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Today would've been pop's 80th bday.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ouch, right in the feelings.

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

When my daughter was still in her crib, her favourite book for me to "read" to her was the 3rd edition Monster Manual (just the monster names). I remember her pointing out... "behoder"... "dispacer bees!" Now she's 16 and this Father's Day I get to GM a game for her and her friends. The best :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm all teary eyed and not ashamed to admit it. Good job.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, LO Special Edition, PF Special Edition, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

My kids love looking at the monsters. (the Bestiary battle cards)

Scarab Sages

When my son was young, we'd grab some minis, I'd draw some rooms on a Paizo flip-mat, and we'd just have them go at it. I'm pretty sure Optimus Prime made an appearance at one point.

The Astral Giant was his favorite mini. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember just spending time with him in my lap, in our guestroom, at the corner desk, rolling dice, making up rules.

Now he sends me the most ridiculous memes through discord, and he wants to play a mind flayer of some kind in our game with my brother and my brother's daughter.

I'm so grateful.


Right in the feels


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Excellent blog post. Almost makes me wish I'd had kids. :-)

Grand Archive

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I cried my eyes out.
Great blog. Thanks. Q_Q

Grand Lodge Contributor

Beautiful, Mike... thanks for sharing this.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

These types of experiences are ones I treasure with my son. Only two, but I already see the sparks of imagination flying constantly. He's even taken a liking to my roleplaying books (all pictures are either "scary" or "cute", I think primarily based on the number of teeth showing.)

I also have the fantastic privilege of working with children for my job, and I like to think that RPGs in general have given be skills and a framework for creating and indulging in a shared imagination space that is so vital in formative play. So thanks to all the rpg writers out there who have helped me be the father, and father figure I am today.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Cyfer wrote:
My kids love looking at the monsters. (the Bestiary battle cards)

My five-year-old daughter likes looking at the monsters, too. She also likes saying "where are we going?" and pointing to stuff on my Lost Omens map (or really any map).

Scarab Sages

Right in the feels..

Verdant Wheel

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Cars and Mazes!


Can someone get the onion-cutting ninjas out of here, please? I'm trying to read a blog...

Scarab Sages

<3

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