A lot of this was drafted in my head as I was trying to sleep last night, so hopefully you’ll forgive me if this is a little incoherent. First off: between the heat and my head, that recent high has dropped somewhat. Natural and soon to pass I hope, but it’s not been great in the brain. To make matters worse, Skindred had to cancel their tour for reasons still unknown. On the bright side, they’ve promised to be back before the end of the year, and will hopefully be here when I don’t have much on, and thus give me something to look forward to in the last half of the year. so there’s a silver lining.
And to the point of why I’m writing. We’re nearing the end of a Changeling: The Lost campaign in which the fate of Paris seems to be in our hands. The city of love (and Death!) is in a lot of trouble. We found ourselves running into a lot of investigative walls, or more than it seemed, and that had me distracted, more so than normal.
After the session my wife, having noticed my distraction, asked me exactly what was it I like doing in RPG’s and I was kinda stumped. I mean, I know why I game, sure. When I discovered gaming it was combat, a stage I imagine most gamer’s go through. There’s a certain joy to finding you have power when before you’ve had none, of being able to write the wrongs, of spending time in a universe where the good guys can actually win. Also, the adolescent power fantasy aspect – being a scrawny and awkward kid when I discovered the hobby, the appeal of being able to be someone mighty and powerful has never quite left me, no matter how old I get. It’s the same sort of thing that’s kept me in love with Iron Maiden all these years, and long may it remain so. (The Dwarf was always my favorite character in Golden Axe)
Nowadays, I’m not so sure. I mean, I know why I do it. There’s the story telling, comradeship and camaraderie and escapism – all very big things. I run games to see people react to an idea I’ve had and run with it in ways I could barely imagine. To entertain, and amuse, for a few hours at a time to take them away from the horrors of the mundane world and to have fun. That means a hell of a lot to me, possibly more than it should. But my attachment to that is probably something I should discuss more with my therapist.
So, what do I get out of playing? I’m not great at talking, power and the spotlight generally unnerves me, my dice curse hampers my effectiveness in combat, and my knack for building characters focused on background rather than mechanics frequently doesn’t help either. I don’t have the patience for long term planning, frequently forget what my character’s abilities are and my innate niceness tends to get in the way of playing any sort of evil or backstabby persona. Sure, there was that stretch of con freeforms in the early 2000’s where I spent half the game under a table screaming at people who came too close, but I’m not sure that counts.
And need to hear the lamentation of the salads…
So, what’s the appeal? What do I want?* I’m still not sure, so I’m going to do something I rarely do, and look to myself. What I get a real kick out of is helping people. Yes, it’s always been there, but working retail and conventions the last few years has helped that along quite a bit. The feeling I get when asking “How can I help you?” or getting to say something like “I love this thing, how can I convince you to buy it?**” is what I believe is called ‘sparking joy.’
So, games. I’m not great at being the face, though I do like some power in the decision making process. If you want the party to survive I probably shouldn’t be at the front line, or be the tactical lynch pin (Depend on my dice and you’ll likely carry some scars), so what does that leave me? I looked inward, and thought, I’d like to try being the teams heart. the one who patches them up, or who keeps them going., whether through motivation, song or sheer irritation. My two stock characters are ‘well meaning but dumb noble’ or ‘world weary and with terrible luck’, but I think it’s time to experiment.
The gaming table should be a safe space where I can experiment with things that I’m terrible at in real life, like having an ego and putting myself forward for things. There’s two campaigns that are starting soon that I’m hoping to put this process into. One’s a bronze age sword and sorcery campaign and the idea that’s stuck with me the most is a young and cheerful Dwarf, fascinated by new things and who sings a lot, so that’s a decent start, I hope. Regular readers will know ideas aren’t the problem for me, but narrowing them down to the useful ones is the issue. Also follow through. And self deprecation. Moving on…
The other’s a Star Wars campaign set roughly 5 years after the Battle of Endor. We’re a group of not exactly law abiding folk, aboard a ship affectionately known as the Crimson Fucker. In that, I’m playing a retired Clone Trooper, specifically a pilot. Mostly of atmospheric craft, owing to not wanting to step on other player’s toes and so everyone has their thing, but more a support role. I’m planning to play the character like a badass grandpa, and am plotting war stories that I can recite at random moments, ala Kup in Transformers: The Movie.
Hopefully I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this experiment. Be seeing you…