Thursday, January 10, 2013

Roleplaying: A Listless Preamble

Of all my addictions, the things that make me stare off into space when I'm around other people or look blankly at wall tiles when I'm in the shower, role playing is the one that figures most into those situations.  As a relative newcomer to the world of RPing, starting with the partially-vilified D&D 4E in mid 2008, it surprised me how excited I was to get into the lifestyle.  How it fit me so well, and that I engaged in it with such enthusiasm.  Rolling dice was great, playing a role was better.  It wasn't long before I started taking pen to paper and began home-brewing races and classes for 4E.  Shortly after that, I moved to a new city and started writing with the intent of running a game.  DMing.
It was only until a year ago that I realized that I've wanted to be a DM almost all my life.  My first experience with Dungeons & Dragons, if it even was that, was in a summer camp.  One of the counselors was a bespectacled blond guy with what I'm assuming was bad acne, but he was a big kid, and when he started talking about character sheets, or that you could pretend to be Dwarves or Elves or humans or Half-Orcs in this tavern he was telling you about, I had to listen in.  No dice were rolled, I never touched a character sheet, but I sat entranced as I, and four other people who I didn't even necessarily like, destroyed this bar after the town guard came in because of a noise complaint.  The next day, for some reason I was out of the game.  I think my character drank poison or something.  So I found two other kids whose characters had been killed off and started them off in a game of my own, set in feudal Japan, as understood by a ten-year-old kid who'd only seen Johnny Quest go there, or the American Ninja reminisce about his time there.  There were sensei and ninja and samurai, and ninja magic.  And potions that I gave out at first level that turned the players into fire-breathing scorpions.
I went home, and somehow forgot about Dungeons and Dragons.  I started playing more videogames.  Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage filled my life until I got my own PC and Blizzard released Diablo and Starcraft, respectively.  Diablo was the hack and slash fantasy I'd lived out (and forgotten), in my summer camp childhood.  Starcraft had a map editor, where people converted games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy into half-hour versions, shooting Zerglings that were turned into Reptites in my mind's eye.  The Map Editor was a powerful tool, where you could tell your own stories, turn them into bite-sized RPGs, and unleash them on the rest of the gaming world.  I never completed any, but I started more than my fair share.  I got the furthest with South Park RPG before Brood War arrived and I began editing together a Fallout map, having been a fan of the series from the original to Fallout: Tactics.  Eventually a new game arrived, but I kept writing stories meant for other people to play.  Some turned into embarrassing fan-fiction, where my Mary Sue character would be a cool, collected NPC that, in all likelihood, my players today would Sneak Attack into a shallow, unmarked grave set in Golgotha, right outside New Reno.
Now, with this new year, I have twelve months to run games.  My first long-term game expired last year with a brutal TPK, and I've been treating my itch with mini-campaigns.  Four-session resolution games.  Finding the right system.  I'm sitting in front of what is likely half a grand worth of Rule Books for various systems, and my mind swims with concepts for games.  BRP Land of the Lost, Weird West, Post-Apoc Fallout, Zombie Uprising, Return to Dark Sun, Monsters and Other Childish Things.  Invictus.  Whatever I end up writing, because it will be something I write, I imagine it will be played.  Because I'm not a lonely angsty teenager sitting in front of a desktop with my boxer shorts caked with old microwave burrito farts.  I'm a DM now, and I'm wearing big-boy pants.  And sometime soon, my players will sit in front of me, and I will roll dice, and someone's PC will die.
And it will be the best joke of the night.