Among the stranger emails I get are those asking me for more information about either the characters in my Dwimmermount campaign or the players -- or both. As a general rule, I don't say much about my players beyond what they do at my table, since, unlike myself, they've wisely chosen to retain some semblance of privacy and I have no intention of violating that. With regards to their characters, I'll admit to some bafflement as to why anyone would care to know more about, say, Brother Candor or Dordagdonar, at least any more than I reveal through my session reports (which reminds: I'm two sessions behind on those and need to get cracking). But what I've discovered is that, thanks to those session reports, a lot of readers have come to care about these characters, after a fashion, and that's a testament to how well played they are by my players.
And, of course, as many of you probably know, one of my players is my nearly 11 year-old daughter, who plays a young magic-user Iriadessa. Several people have asked me recently why she's not been mentioned in recent session reports and I replied that I'd actually make a post about that sometime soon. "Soon" is a relative term, especially this month, when I'm more harried than usual, but I had a bit of time this afternoon and decided that now would be as good a time as any to discuss what's up with Iriadessa and why she's not been mentioned lately.
The short answer is that my daughter doesn't play in the Dwimmermount campaign any longer. She never came to me and said she didn't want to play any more; rather, she simply stopped coming to the table with the rest of the group when we began. Early on, I figured it was because she had other things to do. My daughter's always reading two or three books at a time, she writes stories, draws comics, plays with her younger brother, and of course has school work to do too, in addition to lots of other activities I can't recall right now. So, her failing to appear at the table wasn't something that immediately struck me as something permanent and I didn't think much of it.
After two or three sessions, though, I started to wonder what was up and asked her. Now, my daughter, much like myself, is inclined to be evasive when faced with questions that could hurt someone's feelings and I could sense that she was worried that her answering me honestly might do just that. I assured her that wouldn't be the case and she simply explained that she "wasn't interested" in the game anymore. Naturally, I wanted somewhat more specific answer than that and followed it up with some gentle prodding. After some effort, a couple of things became clear: her lack of interest had nothing to do with the game rules we were using but from the style of game we were playing. By this, I mean that she found the game a little too "tense" for her liking. Her character Iriadessa had never actually died, but she'd come close several times and many other characters, including beloved NPCs, had died and she wasn't fond of that. Iriadessa's cowardice and unwillingness to explore the dungeon were the source of much amusement in the campaign, but they reflected a very real worry on the part of my daughter that her character (or someone else's) might die.
What's fascinating is that, in the weeks since, when my players and I have discussed other games, she's expressed interest in playing them. We were, for example, talking about superhero RPGs, reminiscing about a Star Wars game, and musing about Mazes & Minotaurs and all of these struck her fancy. So, it's clear to me that my daughter isn't disinterested in roleplaying games so much as disinterested in the campaign I'm currently running. And I know that she's not disinterested in D&D, since I'd previously run a game for her and my wife that she liked a great deal more. Of course, that campaign was much more focused and "quest-driven," since, at the time -- she was younger -- I thought it important to provide an overt structure for her to latch on to. Likewise, a series of quests dispensed by others matched her literary inspirations for fantasy, making it much easier for her to get into things.
As I assured my daughter, I'm not disappointed she's dropped out of the campaign and she's of course welcome to return at any time she wishes, should her feelings change. I know she listens in on events at our table every week and she often discusses them with me after the fact, so her disinterest is of a very specific sort. I'm glad she's not forcing herself to keep playing out of a sense of filial obligation when it's not to her liking, even though I did enjoy sharing my world with her. Chances are I'll probably start up a new campaign for her that's more in the vein she enjoys, perhaps a lighthearted superhero game. Heck, my son might even join in on that one, so I'm taking this as an opportunity rather than a setback in the cause of introducing more people to the hobby.