First, a little backstory. My son Mac is only nine years old, but possessing a vivid imagination fueled a lot by his father’s flights of fancy. His exposure to D&D in almost entirely informed by The Order of the Stick, the Dragonlance movie, and kid-friendly MMORPG’s like Dragonfable or Adventure Quest. He’s also been reading through the 3.5 and 4.0 editions of the PHB.
He’s interested in paladins, which means he’s interested in the gods of D&D. OotS has Thor and the Twelve Gods of Azure City. Dragonlance has their own gods. The PHB has others still. The whole notion is confusing to him. In addition, I get questions like:
Which races like to fight a lot? Do elves like to fight? What about dragonborn?
Do half-elves like to fight if they are overcome by their human half? (A Dragonlance reference)
Do all paladins wear capes? What about other classes?
Is Riverwind a barbarian? Etc…
Finally I just had to silence his questions and tell him the following:
You keep asking me what D&D says about gods or races or whatever. There’s no set answer to these questions. It’s about your story. You want elves to like to fight, then they like to fight. Anyone can wear a cape because you decide what your character is like. Gary Burlew made up all the stuff in Order of the Stick. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman came up with the gods and the dragonlances and even the kenders in Dragonlance. When Pathfinder finally shows up you and I can make up our own story with whatever gods and races and whatever we want, because that’ll be our story. The answers to these questions aren’t in the rulebooks, they are in your head.
You got to get this stuff embedded in now, while they’ll still listen to you.