Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted, and still don’t have any questions, so I thought I would do something different today. I wanted to ask you all a question instead. This requires audience participation to work, otherwise I’m just talking to myself. So, here it is:
What do you remember about your first roleplaying game experience? When was it? What game did you play? Who did you play with? Was it awesome?
For me, it all started in my Middle School cafeteria during 6th grade. There were four of us, sitting at our usual table, which in my memory had a 20 foot radius of empty chairs around it that no one would risk sitting in for fear of our geekdom. David, the aspiring astronaut, announced that he had just learned about this great new game that we should try out. We all agreed.
I remember waiting in anticipation as he pulled out a handful of dice and a few blank sheets of notebook paper. And then I was still waiting, as he started explaining something. Interrupting him, I asked, “Wait, where’s the game?”
He explained it was a roleplaying game, like Dungeons & Dragons. I had some idea of what Dungeons & Dragons was because my older brother had been playing it for several years, but it had always been this vaguely mystical, secret brotherhood of metal heads that I couldn’t be a part of. I had never actually witnessed it being played. I only knew it unfolded in the basement and required lots of soda and Iron Maiden.
One time I had crept downstairs after one of their sessions to find a pile of books. I picked up the one on top: the Monster Manual. Already being a fan of the Fantasy genre I was mesmerized by the book, but I had a hard time deciphering any of it, and it only left me with more questions. What were they doing down here? Was it a game? Was it magic? Were they really summoning demons like my Sunday School teacher insisted?
David went on to tell us that it was a Star Wars roleplaying game. This got my attention very quickly, being obsessed, as most good geeks are, with Star Wars. He explained how we made characters and rolled dice to perform actions, and that he, the Game Master, would take us through a story. It sounded suspiciously like playing pretend, something we were supposed to have given up in Elementary school. But it had dice and rules and numbers (all things that adults seemed fond of), so I gave it a chance.
My character was a Force Sensitive X-Wing pilot named Tarrak Kallerian (at least I was creative enough not to name him Luke). We were a squadron of four and spent the next hour shooting TIE fighters in space. And I was hooked. I was inhabiting an entire Universe in a whole new way. Before, all I had was a weak, vicarious experience through my action figures, but now, this was MY experience. I was embodying a person that existed in the Star Wars Universe and working with my friends to create an entirely new story!
It didn’t take long before we realized that playing an RPG during lunch in Middle School was a terrible idea. It only served to widen the 20 foot radius around us to 30 feet, and increased the frequency of hurled objects being directed at our heads. I came to understand why my brother played in the basement. And so we migrated from the cafeteria into Danny’s basement, and began our epic quest for Galactic freedom.
Share your stories, and keep on rolling!
You can also see me in action in the webcomic, One Die Short.