INTERIOR, NIGHT. Several pimply young men gather around a folding table downstairs at the local youth center, bringing with them backpacks, snacks and peculiarly shaped dice. One sits at the head of the table with a cardboard screen shielding a tiny area of tabletop in front of him. The others place little painted figurines on a hexagon covered mat.

Dungeon Master: You enter a large chamber filled with tiny chairs. There are goblins in all the chairs but one. What do you do?

Player: I sit down in the empty chair.

DM: A troll begins to lecture the class.

P: I draw pictures on my notebook and never turn in my homework.

DM: A mark is placed on your permanent record.

P: I ask out the chaotic-neutral half-elf thief.

(DM rolls dice behind the screen.)

DM: She falls in love with you, and you with her.

(DM rolls more hidden dice.)

DM: Unfortunately, you fail your saving throw versus imprudence.

P: What happens?

DM: She gets pregnant. Her parents send her away to boarding school. You never see her again.

P: I sign up for drawing classes and drama club, then start writing for the yearbook.

(DM rolls more hidden dice.)

DM: You fail your save versus hubris.

P: Then what?

DM: You spend twenty years trying to be an artist, only to realize too late that you don’t have what it takes to be the next Picasso.

P: I go to the tavern to seek a quest.

DM: The ogre who owns the kebab shop says you can work the overnight shift and scrub the toilets for twenty copper pieces a week.

P: I attempt to use my Bardic skills to charm him into giving me a raise.

(rolls dice)

DM: He gives your job to a kobold.

This entry is part of my journal, published January 18, 2011, in New York.