Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Six of Eight

...and half a dozen of the other.

It had been a while since I'd returned up to my home town. The last time was a brief day there and back to bear witness to my mum's ashes being interred at their final resting place, but I thought I'd head back, see my sisters and catch up with some of my old gaming friends.

After an excellent time catching up with my sisters, reminiscing about old times, I headed through to one of the larger towns to meet with six of The Eight, my old roleplaying group.

While chatting to my sisters, one of them asked what the plans were for the evening. One even asked if we'd be playing Dungeons and Dragons. I guess most people would be offended and say "Nooo, not any more!", but in my case I just cursed - if we'd only thought about it, given them more warning, we COULD have been playing D&D for the evening. Just like old times... How stupid of me for not suggesting it.

However, the original plan was going to be get some pop in, and biscuits, and have a good catch up and talk about how life was treating us. At least, that was the original plan.

The plan quickly changed, and soon we were heading to the pub. A pub I'd not been in for over twenty years. One with a particularly apt name considering our D&D roots - The Green Dragon.

Us in the Green Dragon (click to embiggen!)
(L-R: Bragi, JR, Milo, Coop, Fordy, me)

So here we are, in The Green Dragon, Bragi, JR, Milo, Coop, Fordy, and myself (excuse using the nicknames, they're designed to protect the innocent). Many beers were quaffed, food was devoured, and I tried to keep up with their drinking matching them with pints of cola (a really bad idea in most cases).

As the evening progressed, as always, gaming came up in conversation again. 

Fordy pointed out (much as my lovely wife and I had discussed last year) that gaming seems to produce stronger bonds of friendship than any other we'd had. He agreed that it was almost like the comrade-re that is found on the battlefield, when soldiers bond in times of war. It is just that our times of war were marching through dungeons and battling orcs and goblins rather than any real threat.

We chatted about games, and again, Fordy pointed out something we'd not really considered about our old gaming. While we played a lot of roleplaying games as kids, we never really roleplayed. At least, not until later in life. Our characters were just glorified versions of ourselves, a way to escape reality and to do something more interesting with our lives, rather than just go to school, or look for work. These versions of us did cool things, like battling monsters, or fighting off alien invaders. They didn't really stretch our abilities to try to be someone else entirely. It wasn't until we'd matured a bit, and usually in later games apart from The Eight that we sampled the scope of roleplaying games, and how we didn't have to just be us. How we could be anything else. Do something different. Play at being someone new.

Fordy suggested that the only one of us who actually tried to be anything different was Mole. Mole's characters were slightly frustrating as they were usually sneaky, backstabbing, anti-heroes who may just as well sell the whole group out or kill them in their sleep than blindly following the plot of the adventure. While at the time we may have dismissed it as "Oh, it's just Mole trying to kill me again," he was the one who wanted to try something different. Mole's not a sneaky person. He certainly didn't want to kill us in our sleep. But he stretched the scope of the game, and we were too blind to see it at the time.

While you may be on the other side of the planet, Mole, hats off to you (if I was wearing a hat, at least) for trying to show us what this roleplaying stuff was all about.

More beer was consumed, the evil looking concoction called a Jaeger-bomb was revealed, and I kept drinking my colas. The conversation turned to "What was your best gaming experience, as a GM and as a player?"

As the sober one, I sat and listened. It was fascinating to hear these tales of the old games, and what made them so special. I just should have videoed the whole thing, it would have made a great (if slightly drunken) vid-blog. Conversation turned to something else (probably motorbikes or cars or something) before I had answered. So, a little later than everyone else, here's my answer. 

My best gaming experience as a player:

Probably Marines Odyssey. Odyssey was a home created system that Pete designed, which felt a bit like a faster version of BRP (RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu). Pete ran many games of different genres using that system, but for me, the Colonial Marines game we played, based upon the setting from Alien/Aliens was possibly the best. I wrote a blog post about it a little while back. 

Using the same system, and set in the same universe, we did another SF game with a bunch of pre-gen characters that Pete provided. It felt a bit like a murder mystery in space, with a crashed ship, a hole in the ground, and someone picking off the characters one by one. In my head it looks like LV421 meets Pitch Black (during the eclipses) and it was gripping. Mostly because about half way through the game, Pete started handing me notes under the table. The thing that was taking out the characters was me. My character was the villain, and I'd started writing notes discretely back, reveling in this new-found villaindom to think up new and interesting ways to kill off the rest of the group and to make it look like an accident. This was possibly the closest I came to really "roleplaying" with the old group, and it opened my eyes to the potential of the games that could be run, when I was just making crap up as I went along in my GM'd games. 

My best gaming experience as a GameMaster:

That would have to be Mage. Or at least the Mage: The Ascension game I was running that became Kult. While I don't think I'd progressed much as a GM (I was still making huge chunks up as I went along), I think it was purely down to the players I had at the time. Stoo, Edge, Tetch and Debs made a great team who created real characters who were such individuals, so independently minded, that I hardly had to do anything. They'd start the game, they knew what their characters would want to be doing, and they'd go and do it. It was almost freeform storytelling. Debs' character was an evil little self-centred Goth, while Edge's hippy chick character died early on but continued on as a ghost. It was thrilling, exciting, and every session was a surprise. I'd warn them at the beginning of each session "I don't really have anything prepared" but by the end we were hanging on each other's every word, waiting so see what madness and horrors would come next. Awesome stuff.

Anyway, that was my brief journey back home. 

Maybe next time I'm back I'll try to get a game going.

Funnily enough, tonight I was supposed to be at a game - my first in nearly two years - but it has had to be delayed until next week. It'll be an odd experience getting back into the swing of it all again, maybe just what my game-writing needs.

Until next time, stay multiclassy!!

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