Dungeon Master's Guide to Eighth Grade

Amorak Huey


"As long as your campaign remains viable,
it will continue a slow process of change and growth."
—Gary Gygax

When you come back in the fall of 1983
your friends listen to Z-103 instead of KIX-106,
Luke Skywalker isn't cool anymore
and they might still watch The A-Team
but no one talks about it. Will you search each room
or move on quickly? Roll for traps. Boys swear
like their uncles. Armpit hair is a status symbol.
The lunchroom is an unguarded wilderness
of potential humiliation. So is conversation.
This is when every girl is out of your league,
when you realize such leagues even exist.
It's Panama Jack shirts and parachute pants,
it's when neatness begins to count
in algebra and earth science
and how you part your hair. It's when art
is no longer for everyone. When size matters.
Roll for attributes. Choose alignments.
Every outcome will matter forever.
The halls smell like hairspray and belch.
The Cold War heats up, there are drills
for when the Russians attack – basically, duck.
This is when curve balls actually curve,
the kid who used to play short is in right,
the kid who played right field is in the band,
some new kid the star of every team.
The answers are all behind the screen.
You stop mentioning your interests,
start planning evasive action
to survive from homeroom to history.
Life happens one period at a time. It's turn-based
and someone else's move. Roll
and roll again. Each day's final bell
is a tally mark scratched into painted cinderblock.
The world is populated with non-player characters.
Later you'll see there's always a Cold War somewhere.
Not every dragon lives in a dungeon.
The last to realize this dies first.