Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hello. How's it going? What the hell am I doing?

Hi, my name's Chris Lowrance.

("Hi, Chris")

And I'm a... I used to be...

(Sponsor puts hand on shoulder, gives a stern glance)

Right. I am a gamer. A role-player.

(Everyone claps)

I was clean for a long time. For years, even. I didn't touch a die once in college. But last year, I fell off the wagon. It didn't go well. I got clean again, but the itch was back... stronger than ever. Maybe I should start from the beginning.

My brother was an avid role player... Dungeons and Dragons, the White Wolf stuff, Palladium...

(Crowd murmers as the sponsor shakes his head sadly)

After he left home, he left a lot of his paraphernalia behind. AD&D was a little strong for me at that age, but Robotech went down smooth... from there it was Heroes Unlimited... Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles even!

("I've been there, brother!" "Mm, mm. mm..." "I was a badger-woman!")

I got my friends into in, pretty soon we had near-weekly game nights. Blasted out of our heads on Smarties and Pixie Sticks, the beautiful clackedy-clackedy-clack of a pair of d10s in our ears and nothing but savings throws and sanity checks in our minds.

That's right, we fell into a little bit of dungeon-crawling, and I started us on Call of Cthulhu. When I got Goth, I picked up the White Wolf stuff... and that's when things got heavy. I'm talking t-shirts, novels, jewelery... I've still got a lot of it.

("No, man, you gotta get rid of that stuff..." "Can we see it? I mean, uh...")

It wasn't until I met my future wife that I looked around the table one game night and thought "What am I doing? I could be IMing with my girlfriend, and instead I'm sitting around with a bunch of hack-and-slashers, watching my elaborate story-campaigns crumble while they take out Nyarlethotep with rocket-propelled grenades and have my tragically-scarred Nosferatu fighting robots.

("Yep, getting laid is what opened my eyes too." "That's why it's called 'the thirteenth step' Bill.")

So when I left high school, I gave it all up. Gave my books to my best friend, sold what he didn't want... a few things I just couldn't let go of, but most of it I did. It cost me some friends. And that crap wasn't cheap, either.

("Good for you!" "Anyone who feeds an addict is no friend!" "What did you keep, specifically? I can take it off... what, Mary? I'm tryin' to help!")

Like I said, last year I fell of the wagon... Call of Cthulhu again, I tried to get my wife to play ( - disgusted sounds - ). That's a story for another time.

So here I am... but you know, I've been thinking a lot over the years. Lately, I've been reading some blogs, too... and I don't blame my old friends any more. We just weren't good GMs yet. We all had different desires out of the games; most of them just wanted to have fun and kill orcs, while I wanted story and substance. I tried to force it on them in my sessions - I railroaded them about as hard as you can.

(Sponser: "Chris, you're falling back into the lingo...")

I didn't quit because suddenly I had a girlfriend and didn't care. I don't think I even quit because role-playing is a bad thing. I quit because I wasn't having fun anymore. And it used to be a lot of fun. I miss that. And I miss some of my friends.

I mean, come on, guys... making a character, rolling up stats, buying equipment. Leveling up. Rolling that critical hit and seeing the weretroll's face crumple in...

("Chris, I think you should sit down now." "Aw hell yeah! This one time, I rolled three 20s in a row and took out a goddamned hill giant with just a big rock and a hand mirror!" "That's nothing, in Vampire I knocked a 5th gen Lasombra's head off with their own shadow...")

Videogames are great and have come a long way, but table-top's just different. It's so open-ended. And I don't need a degree from ITT Tech to create whole words with them. That's why I want my wife to play... I think it's something she'll really enjoy doing together. It's going to be a bit of a journey for both of us, but I think I've found something that will really engage her. I'll talk more about that later, too.

So, that's what this blog is about. My star-crossed relationship with games, my return to them, my attempts to introduce my wife to role-playing, and the game I'm essentially creating for her. There will also be some more general stuff... my thoughts on game theory as I attempt to join that discussion... ideas for creatures, characters, settings and other seeds I hope you'll find usable... and oh yeah, I'm an artist so expect drawings and custom-made minis (I got an awesome Fungi from Yuggoth I'm dying to show you).

Oh, wait, I had a whole "I'm in an Gamers Anonymous meeting" conceit going, didn't I? Just a second.

(punches sponsor in the nose, throws a chair through window and leaps out, runs for car)

How's that for a critical hit, sucka!

(Back in the meeting, everyone sits in silence, staring at the unconscious and bleeding sponsor. Finally a young woman in the back cuts the quiet with her voice.

"So, anyone in here LARP?")

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