The second dawn

4 09 2009

When I planned out the order of my blogs (I wrote more than thirty before I started, so I could publish one a day for a month without a break) I thought of my RPG career as having two phases.  Then I remembered Tunnels and Trolls and that makes three distinct eras of role-playing.

My second phase started maybe ten to fifteen years after my first.  T&T lasted a few years from my hazy memories, and I did not encounter any form of role-playing (other than computer games) until my early-twenties. 

The second dawn of my RPG life was the most intense.  Even if I continue to role-play for the rest of my life, I must have rolled more dice in those years of almost non-stop gaming than many people do in a lifetime.

When I say I played for months at a time, I mean it.  I may have been in three or four games at a time and literally played every evening (often until the early hours) and every weekend (with only brief sleep and eating rests).  If any other free time presented, it would be filled with more role-playing.  And of course there were play by email RPGs too.

This lasted three years at least before it settled down into more normal timeframes – a couple of evenings a week and week-end evenings.  Then came marriage and all that comes with it and my role-playing petered out and stopped.  I gave my first ‘real’ GM all of my gaming books and as much as it was fair to given them to him, I do now regret it.  GURPS, Shadowrun, Warhammer, Cyberpunk, Traveller and Twilight 2000 are the ones I remember.  And so many sourcebooks that I’ve no idea how many.  I remember it was at least six boxes full…

I remember my first real RPG more fondly than T&T.  Perhaps it’s because I can remember it?  T&T was about creating characters, (probably) fudging my stats, and following a dungeon crawl in a book.  My first real game wasn’t even based on a system.  Over time it developed more of a structure (not that this added to the game other than for consistency).  It remains, like many first loves, my only true love.

I’d recently located to a new city and started up a small play by email game.  I rented a small office and a few months in, was introduced to a couple of guys that, ‘were doing something similar.’  I can’t even remember what it was they were doing as a business.  We had a coffee and the conversation turned to role-playing.  I mentioned my computer related interest and was invited to join in a game of table-top gaming.  The business unit was empty in the evenings and had plenty of meeting rooms.  It was agreed to role-play in one of these.

As well as the GM (as I’m from a non-D&D background I always think of GMs not DMs) there were six other players plus me.  I knew two of them.  The game was a post-nuclear holocaust setting.  We were survivors/next generation who were trying to re-establish a community in the American wilderness – where military might ruled.  Our map consisted of about a hundred and fifty sheets of paper that could be assembled into one big map and my imagination was sparked.

My first character was rolled randomly, and I ended up as a giant (over 7 feet tall) who was handy in a fight but low on ideas.

We played many different campaigns, with new characters each time.  I varied my character each time but first became aware of the players who seemed to randomly roll but come up with the same character each time.  There was the elf-ninja, the weapons master and a talkative rogue.  I drifted towards playing magic users – something that stayed with me during this period.

Of the group, one person GMed 99.9% of the time.  One other offered sporadically and I started to show interest in GMing (but I’ll talk about that another time).

WFRP__Career_Compendium_by_RalphHorsleyThrough this group of new-found friends, I met two more people that role-played as was invited to join my first ‘proper’ game.  Warhammer.  Of all of the published games, I still love this one the most.  The group consisted of three players and a GM but with nobody from my other game.  It was interesting to see that role-playing could be played in such a different way.  We played the opening campaign and I regret we never got to play any more. 

My abiding memories included one session where I didn’t role a dice.  The GM rolled plenty of hidden dice, but we just role-played our socks off.  I also remember so very fondly being accepted as a Knight Templar.  Sad but true.

One of the other players GMed some Cthulhu and I enjoyed it without being overwhelmed.  Perhaps there was too much investigation for me?  I don’t know.

The first game added a lot of GURPS to its system (which had been primarily d100 based anyway) especially in character creation.  I’d bought the GURPS books and they were universally accepted to help in some aspects of the game-play.

During this time I played a variety of characters and various systems and genre.  I loved fantasy, enjoyed sci-fi and couldn’t get enough of the post-nuclear world.  The horror and investigation stuff I played but couldn’t have carried on beyond the occasional adventure.

And then it was over.  It was never a conscious decision to quit, but rather an expectation of a pause in gaming that I never expected to last.  A dozen or so years later and the pause ended and the third phase would begin.

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