I recently had a chance to catch up with an old gaming friend.
Many years ago, he ran an epic fantasy campaign featuring a few intrepid heroes and endless hordes of Goblins. He had a grand imagination, and he often wrote down tales based on his gaming. We were going to design a fantasy RPG in those days, but we ended up in different places and lost touch.
As we caught up on the many years since we had last talked he told me about his latest enthusiasm: DNA! He had done a DNA test through National Geographic, and was excited to find he was descended from Vikings and Wends – warrior barbarians, which perfectly suited him.
That got me to thinking: What's in my DNA, and what wargaming might I get into that would reflect my biological inheritance?
My surname of Armintrout, as you might have guessed, is German. The Armintrouts in the USA are descended from a widow who came to America before the American Revolution; they settled in Pennsylvania, then many of them resettled in Virginia. It is said that George Washington once stayed at the inn of Meinheer Ermentraudt. My branch of the family moved on to Ohio, and then Iowa; my great-grandfather served in the Union Army in the Civil War, where he came down with an illness that dogged him for the rest of his long life. My grandfather married into a family descended from Oregon pioneers.
On my mother's side of the family, we're descended from British converts to Mormonism who traveled to Utah and pioneered the West. They became farmers, ranchers, miners, and workers in the smelters.
However, that's my adopted family. When I was growing up, my adopted parents always told me I was special, because I was a chosen baby. When I was a young man, my mother told me the few things she had been told by the adoption attorney: that my birthfather was Mexican, and my birthmother said she was of English heritage.
Taking a DNA test should both be fun and informative.
The DNA Test
So I went to ancestry.com, paid my money (the test is $100 USD but is often on sale for $80 USD), and a box arrived in my mailbox.
When you open the box, the first thing you see is a fold-out card with all of the instructions. Step One: Go online and register your DNA kit!
The box also contains a mailing box to return the DNA sample (postage pre-paid), a collection bag, and the collection tube.
You have to wait until 30 minutes after eating, drinking or smoking. Then, spit into the tube!
You don't have to fill the entire tube with spit – just a small portion, equivalent to a quarter teaspoon. (Bubbles don't count!) It takes a few minutes to generate enough spit…
Then you remove the cup from the top of the tube, and screw on the cap that is provided. When the cap is screwed on, a blue liquid is released which mixes with the sample to 'stabilize' it. Shake it up to make sure it's mixed well.
Then you put the tube in the bag, seal the bag, put the bag in the box, seal the box, and mail it!
According to the company's website, it will take between four and six weeks to get my results back… or longer, because they say they've had a lot of samples sent in recently. I'll let you know when I get my results, and I'm sure there'll be a wargaming project in there somewhere!