It began during lockdown. Miranda and Justice Buras, music teachers from Abita Springs, Louisiana, had been just about to start a D&D campaign with friends when the pandemic broke out. Miranda is immunocompromised, so instead of delving dungeons with some paladin pals she says they, and kids Cordelia, now 9, and Victor, now 7, were “completely isolated in the house”.
But as the saying goes, where there’s a will (to play a TTRPG) there’s a way. It wasn’t long before the Buras’ were building a fantasy world together, rolling dice, and getting killed off by fiendish traps designed by their kids.
A D&D player since 9th grade, Justice was able to persuade his wife to join in after they got engaged. “The deal was I try playing and my character gets a dragon. I got my dragon, and I’ve been playing TTRPGs ever since,” Miranda says.
Justice and Miranda were inspired to introduce DnD to their daughter Cordelia by a PAX online panel run by Game to Grow, a non-profit which uses games for therapeutic, educational, and community growth. “She was struggling with confidence and anxiety, and with us unable to leave the house we didn’t really have a way to help her,” Miranda says. “We realised just how beneficial playing with our daughter would be”.
In September 2020, the family group had its first session in the World of Corde, and Miranda began a blog of the same name “to both keep a record and inspire others to play with their kids.”
Of course, the pair have adapted the DnD game for playing with a younger group. “We definitely don’t use curse words,” Miranda says. “We also refrained from killing humanoids until very recently, and there have only been two.” Not that their games are toothless – the first time Cordelia DMd, she killed off Justice’s character!
“We let Victor embellish as much as he wants and figure out how to make it work with the game,” Miranda adds.
As Dungeon Master when his children aren’t in the hot seat, Justice says he aims “to incorporate characters and plot hooks designed to teach lessons to the kids, like the evil Queen Themaphila who was a bully and always wanted things her way.” He also once ran an entire session based on an episode of Scooby Doo.
The couple use their blog to keep track of dozens of sessions, record learning experiences, challenges, successes, and analysis of the Games to Grow philosophy at work.
Years of sessions have led to plenty of great moments. One of Miranda’s favourites is “the first time Victor DMed and did voices for the monsters!” While Justice highlights a trap of Cordelia’s, a locked room with a ticking countdown that resets when you push a button. The trapped player squirms, trying everything they can think of to escape their fate, pressing the button repeatedly… until finally they give up and let the timer hit zero. Then: “Nothing happens and both doors unlock. We were laughing so hard!”