Sunday, September 30, 2012

What's This All About Then?

First we played D&D because, everyone played D&D. It was the earliest of 80s then. We had to sneak into my friend's older brother's bedroom to get the dice. Like ninjas we had to move over that shag carpet. So I had drawn the short straw, and I was sneaking over that thick shag pile and slipped into my friend Dave's older brother's room. Dave had two older brothers. The oldest had centerfolds on his walls and a surfboard. The middle brother had samurai swords, blacklight posters, Rush albums, and more D&D shit that you ever saw outside of a King Normans or a Happy Hobby.

So I had been walking over the carpet in my new Keds, and there I was in the middle brother's room. You know how when you are a kid, everyone slightly older than you looks decades older? Dave's older brother looked like he was 40 years old. He had a thick porno mustache and drove a Camero. On the waterbed was the family cat, a big white bastard bitch who eyed me suspiciously. I was just a few feet away from the dresser where about a million dice were sorted into various mason jars and beer mugs. I felt the cat's eyes on me, so I reached out and gave her a pat.
Well with my new shoes and that thick carpet, I had generated a ton of static electricity and shocked the hell out of that poor cat. It leaped into the air while simultaneously shredding my hand and arm with a frantic windmill attack.

I grabbed the die and tried to hold back my screams of pain. My hand was bloody.
The cat bolted into the den, where the older brother was smoking a Camel while watching an RCA videodisc of Excalibur. I tried to quietly shut the door behind me and get back out to the garage before the older brother appeared.

My friends hailed my safe return and I showed them my hand. I held a cold can of Shasta Cola against it and the game began. Had I been caught, the brother would have put me in a headlock and held that cigarette close enough to my skin until I yelped.

The Tomb of Horrors was nothing compared to that suburban Eichler of real terror that we endured.

My friends moved away and then I moved away, and I became more interested in girls and punk rock and skateboarding to care about D&D anymore. Although, a perpetual loner who spent lunch period in the library, I tore through those Dragonlance books. There was something very different about those novels than anything my friends and I played. There was a glossy sheen upon the overall aesthetic. One that hadn't been there before. When I looked through some of the 2nd Edition stuff when it hit the shelves, it didn't look like D&D at all. The new books felt like, well, they felt like school. They looked and felt like textbooks.

I played Palladium for a while, but that never possessed me to go out, buy graph paper and fresh black pens and pencils and create a vast ruined city that I would have done over and over in my earlier days. There was nothing about it that fired my imagination. It was much more structured than I was used to playing. The rules had a certain cumbersome quality to it. Like when we tried to play the Iron Crown games.

I played some of the White Wolf stuff too, but really, I only played those games to try and meet goth girls who were into gaming.

I don't know what it was, but when D&D 3rd edition came out, I was all over that shit. I spent a couple nights during the week playing with a group that met at a local pizza joint. I'd get off work, drink beer and eat pizza while tearing through the newly renovated Temple of Elemental Evil. I wrote a column about gaming for a local fanzine. When "Living Greyhawk" was launched, I went to hotel conference rooms and game shop back rooms and ran my character Eryon Longshadow through the fucking wringer in the dullsville Theocracy of the Pale. But I showed up, got my little slips of paper that represented my Amulet of the Phostwood and Masterwork Composite Bow, and kept them in a little binder.

But anyway, Eryon died. Killed on a double critical by an Orc battleaxe. Ah well. By this point I wanted to run my own games again. The desire for the "Old Edition Feel" with the new slick d20 rules had become very popular and all the new indie publishers that sprang up inspired me.

I submitted stories to Dragon and Dungeon (which were kindly rejected, but always with the encouragement to send more) and I started working on my first real module. By this stage in my life I had racked up quite a few unfinished novels and short stories that were perfect for scaling into adventures.

Escapism is hard to escape into long enough to create a lasting project. Family, college, work, life, all conspire against such creativity, but perhaps here on this blog I can dole some of my ideas out in bits and pieces.

Currently I am running a Labyrinth Lord campaign with three friends who weren't alive when I got my first D&D basic set. They're used to enormous books of feats and skills that control every aspect of every player's movement. What it's really about, and what has drawn me in, time and time again, is the "collaborative storytelling" aspect of role playing games. Breathing life into the backgrounds of those worlds we create together.

Good day.

First One is the Hardest

Naakhum - Anunnaki 
scenes from Baraka