Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In Which I State My Intent And Hopefully Don't Bore Or Scare Off Potential Readers By Rambling

This is blog about pen and paper roleplaying, being a gay man in the RPG community, being a Gamemaster (or GM, DM, Storyteller, or whatever the hell you call it) and whatever random quasi related stuff I decide to include on the side.  I've roleplayed over half my life, starting in my friend's sun room with the then brand new copy of Star Wars D20, one set of dice to share between the lot of us, and an almost palpable excitement that I feel before every session to this day.  It's not a joke when I say RPGs changed my life.  An overwhelming majority of my closest friends have been made through RPGs, and because of the environment of safe social interaction, RPGs allowed me a safe haven during my high school and college years when I was trying to figure out who I was, coming to terms with myself, and generally coming out of my socially awkward shell.

Now, at 26, I am deciding to add my voice to the RPG conversation on the interwebs.  Bloggers like Zach S. at Playing D&D With Porn Stars and YouTubers like Samwise7RPG have inspired me to share my stories, tips, tricks, opinions, and experience with the online RPG community, because I possess the hubris to believe that my viewpoint is different and exciting enough to warrant a blog all my own.  Hopefully readers think so too.  The gay male voice seems underrepresented in the general RPG conversation, even though I know there are other gaymers out there.  That being said, don't think of this as political soapboxing.  It's a different viewpoint, and, honestly, there's not a whole lot different in my GMing and playing style than most of my straight friends.  I just have the pink sparkly dice at the table and my characters tend to fall in love with the prince and not the princess.  That ancient blue dragon I just said you woke up because of your failed stealth check is going to eat you not give you fashion tips.

One of the reasons the RPG community has drawn me in completely (something I will hopefully elaborate on in future posts) is the general acceptance of others in the community.  Few other social groups can include a metalhead, a stoner, a social outcast, and a 40 year old virgin who sit around the back room of a comic shop and kill goblins with near perfect camaraderie and Cheetos.  I believe the acceptance that is a gamer hallmark is due to the fact that most of us have experienced some pretty extreme bullying or at least some rough patches in our lives, and, as nerds and general outcasts, we don't want to visit the pain of exclusion on others.  Sure, there are popular kids, successful businessmen, and more normal people who play RPGs, but the vast majority of those who pull up a chair, open their Crown Royal bags, and embark on tales of imaginary adventure have experienced some pretty harsh stuff.  

That very fact is one of the things that makes RPGs so special to me--broken people coming together to create something beautiful, exciting, and life changing.  In high school, facing down dragons twice a week gave me the strength to face the horrors of school.  In college, my adventures with my friends provided exactly the kind of push I needed to realize that I had opinions that mattered.  These days, Thursday nights are exactly the kind of release I need after a week of work.  Everyone needs a little adventure, and if you can get it sitting around the kitchen table, you're ahead of the game.  My imagination enjoys the workout.  

Running games is a natural evolution of being a Roleplayer, although not everyone takes that step.  Back in high school and early college, I ran games out of desperation to play.  There was (and still is) a comic shop in my home town with a small community of roleplayers.  However, there were precious few DMs, so I started stepping in and throwing my paltry adventures around.  Most fell flat, lasted a few sessions, then fizzled.  I had no clue why, and became discouraged, relegating myself to being"just a player."  In my first few years of college, I was invited to a group of some slightly older guys I'd known my whole life and had never known they roleplayed.  And boy did they ever roleplay.  Sessions went past without dice rolls (we were nominally playing GURPS), and, when a fight split the group and the guy who was GMing stopped hanging out with us, I stepped in to finish GMing the story.  Notice the choice of words there.  I was GMing a Story.  I'm sure I screwed up a lot, but the few guys left were hooked, and after I narrated the closing epilogue, I received the greatest praise I have ever gotten as a GM when one of the guys, wonder in his eyes, breathed out, "dude, I will play any game you ever run."

The story is the part of the RPG that draws me in.  I write (lazily and none too often, but I do it), and I read quite a bit, and the narrative of a well roleplayed RPG session is exactly the drug I crave.  Crafting a story is what drives me to GM.  The rules are definitely second fiddle.  It's six sessions into the current Hunter: the Reckoning game I'm running for my friends, and we haven't done combat right once.  It hasn't mattered.  Now, I do have quite a few GM problems.  My players necessitate an exceptionally freeform GMing style from me.  Using the above example, we're six sessions into my Hunter game an I haven't touched 3/4 of my 20+ pages of notes.  Conversely, I've had to make up countless now major NPCs on the spot, adapt to them throwing me curveballs 2-3 times a session, and hell if I ever remember half of it session to session.  It's humbling having to ask them what the NPC I created's name was, but the important part is that they remember, talk about the game over the week, and remind me when I'm not doing the NPCs accent right after I finally remember his name.  A well fleshed out story leaves an impression.  

Now, rules are important.  I'm getting better at them.  Game design is fascinating to me, and like pretty much all GMs, I'm working on my own system and have houseruled the living hell out of quite a few games.  I can quote the best feat chains for your fighter from Pathfinder.  My players have necessitated this, and I thank them for it.  Now that I have a strong footing with storytelling, I can focus on running it as a game too.  One piece at a time, I'm still learning.  It took me ten years, but I finally figured out THAC0 two weeks ago and now no longer hate AD&D 2E because I can't understand it.  

But anyways, I've rambled.  I do that a lot.  Here's to hoping I can keep a blog alive.  My heart says I can, but the withered corpses of my dead houseplants laugh derisively from my windowsill.

1 comment:

  1. I did a search for my username and your blog came up. I'm glad that my ramblings have inspired you. :)