Friday, August 12, 2011

Gaming

roll of the dice by runielf
I was first a comic geek. Later a game geek.

My first game was the TSR Marvel RPG. The next game I got into was TSR's Top Secret/S.I. and from there Star Wars d6. It wasn't until 3.0 that I ever got into Dungeons & Dragons. The main reason for this was that my parents were not comfortable with the magic, wizards and dragon tropes that go with fantasy gaming. And this was the mid '80s to early '90s where the mainstream view of such things were not that favorable. The settings where this wasn't so blatantly  obvious were permissible, but still not completely comfortable with my mom.

A majority of my gaming has been D&D 3rd Edition. I reserve a strong desire to play almost any system but that, but my usual gaming group are a bunch of old-school curmudgens who are stuck on 3rd- (I was able to nudge them on to Pathfinder, however which is where they still are for the most part).

I have explored many of the more prominent game systems available, sometimes immersing myself into the game for a while. Many of these I have never actually played, just... studied. GURPS is one of these. I admire the system for what it is and seems it accomplishes. I think it'd be too cumbersome for me to actually apply. D6 System and True20 are some others that I got into for some time.

On one of their visits my father expressed that he didn't understand the hobby and my enthusiasm for it. He pretty much dismissed the whole idea. Not a big deal.

A few weeks later my dad called to apologize for how that conversation went. He felt convicted and that he perhaps was too judgmental about the issue and asked for forgiveness. I told him not to worry as I wasn't offended- as gamers I suspect we all are calloused to some of this. Comes with the territory. He was forgiven, but in a moment of inspiration I told him that I'd like to run a game for him (with my mom, my wife and my step-daughter) so that he'd have first hand knowledge of what the game and the hobby is all about. He agreed. I set to work.

I finally settled on using the Top Secret/S.I. rules, but instead of the espionage setting I created a one-shot pulp adventure ambiguously set in no era with vague Nazi-ish bad guys with some relic macguffin. I pre-generated characters for everyone so as to get right into the game (robbing them of the joy of creating characters... perhaps another time). This was all with my dad as the main target audience (as this all started for him). The other element I was sure to add was to introduce my step-daughter to the concept of role-playing. Leesha was around 10 years old and had a vague idea what this gaming thing was all about. She was pretty clear she wanted a character that had a big cat as a pet. I started her off with no animal companion, but did plant a panther as an encounter in the adventure as a very likely animal companion if things played out in that direction.

We played for a few hours, they made their way through the simple dungeon tomb and overcame the bad guy. We all really got into it, but what made it all worth while was my parents asking when we could do it again! I successfully ran a one-shot game for my folks, which they enjoyed and they got it. Sadly, we haven't been able to sit down and do it again. I do plan to return to that game one day. Perhaps with a different system, however.

My latest reads have been all about the Ubiquity System from Exile Game Studio introduced through the Hollow Earth Expedition RPG. I saw this game and it's system as one that could easily be understood and used with my children and family. Then I discovered the Wilderness Kids Adventures which solidified the deal. I intend on using the Ubiquity System as our household game system.

Why RPGs? This is a way for me to not have to grow up. My fondest memories as a child were exploring the amazing and strange worlds my brother and I would create through the lens of our action figures. We never played G.I. Joe or Star Wars properly, we mashed them all together and had intergalactic bands touring in concert or people stuck in a prehistoric world, or taped paper wings to their backs and made them insect hybrid people. Gaming is a way to continue that. To continue creating.
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