Ode to my Role Playing past

My gaming life has many paths and tendrils. If you’re not interested in role playing games, read no further than the next paragraph.

Depending on the day of the week, I attribute my board gaming start to one of two games. Either receiving Hammer’s Slammers from my parents for a birthday or picking out Outdoor Survival for a birthday from my sister. This leads me to many memories of spending every shopping trip to the Findlay Mall in the Hobby Shop. I would spend hours there, whilst my parents shopped, just studying every game there. The selection was quite something, mostly wargames if I remember correctly. I remember drooling over the Ambush series and another series which depicted different theaters of a conventional World War 3 between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces. Unfortunately, I never got them. (Though I have since picked up Ambush on Ebay but not played it) I don’t even know what the name of the WW3 series was or who made it. I eventually picked up Squad Leader after playing it with a buddy of mine, Jim Garrett. Eventually, he introduced me to ASL which seemed so much better. But it was many years later before I would finally make that jump. My college years saw me going through games with quite a vigor. Toledo had a game store which would allow you to sell or trade in your games. So I would always be trading in games for other ones. The bulk of my original collection (which I’ve tried to put back together via Ebay) was sold at that store and to various friends along the way. The two most painful memories I have is getting rid of Outdoor Survival along with homemade rules for turning it into a combat game that me and some buds made up, and getting rid of a vintage copy of Space Hulk (that one’s become too expensive to replace). For the past few years I’ve been trying to put together my original collection again. For the most part, I think I’ve pretty much done it (with the exception of Space Hulk), but my leaky brain does remind me of something I missed now and then.

The other main tendril would be the role playing path. This started innocently enough. I was a voracious reader when I was young, never going more than a day after finishing one book before starting another. I picked up the first book in the Dragonlance saga (Dragons of Autumn Twilight I believe) on one of those trips to the Findlay mall. It was either a Friday or Saturday and I commenced reading it immediately. So engrossed did I become by the story that I was done with it by the following Monday. Not being able to get the next book until our next trip to the mall, I must have read the last couple of pages a thousand times. Those last couple of pages were an advertisement for a game called Dungeons & Dragons. It sounded so cool. I passed the book along to my best friend Jim and told him to check it out. He thought it looked cool too. And off we went. I got the Basic set (red box) and he got the Expert set (blue box). It was pretty funny the way they did it back then, Basic took you through level 3, then the Expert set took you further from there. I think there was a set beyond that also.

We started off with me as the DM. I had gotten a pack of 10 adventures in the D&D land of Karamekos. It was pretty good, with the final adventure being very cloak and dagger and political intrigue heavy. I think the three of us each drew up characters, even though I was running it. I think I had a dwarf. He was pretty much a glorified NPC that I used to help the players if needed. The only name I can remember was for a wizard named Flavian. Or maybe he was later, not sure. But we had a blast in our make believe world.

The next stage came when our friend Rich introduced me to AD&D and one of my future good friends Bill. Bill was the best DM I would ever play under. His adventures were always enjoyable and allowed Rich and I to have fun with the story rather than the one dimensional hack and slash some of the other players craved. Bill always had the coolest play aids, especially when he’d hand out old looking maps. Under his tutelage, I became comfortable DM’ing in the big D&D world. This continued on when we began to try other games. I ran a big campaign in the Shadowrun system and also a mini-campaign in the Mechwarrior.

As we all got married and I moved out of state, the sessions became few and far between until they were non-existant. I tried to get something going again after moving back into the area, but poor turnout and my own burnout ended it after only one session. I don’t know how I could get burned out after only one little adventure, but I just felt like I didn’t have it. Who knows if we’d still be playing if I could have just kept going. But it’s tough without a couple of the core group from the old days, with one living in Florida and the other unable to make it down from Wauseon.

I really enjoyed RP’ing. It’s not the devil-worshipping, mind-controlling activity that people who’ve never done it make it out to be. It’s just another fun way to pass the time and use your imagination to boot. It’s the adult form of cops and robbers, or army, or pretending you’re a superhero.

I’ve found myself thinking back to it quite a bit of late. I’ve been listening to a couple podcasts related to it, the best of which is at http://www.feartheboot.com. Why I listen to it, I don’t know, since I don’t play anymore. But it takes me back to those days and invokes some of those good feelings. I miss those days and I have a few regrets. I regret that we didn’t see the end coming and seek to bring our campaigns to a close. The only one’s I ever actually remember ending were the Mechwarrior games where we were all Clan members and the Shadowrun Harlequin adventures that I ran. (Side Note: I had a second campaign involving Harlequin that we never got to.) I should’ve ended the AD&D game that I ran involving the Red Death after the player’s destroyed one of the Red Death’s strongholds. But things appeared that we could keep it going and I had a plot anyways. So many other games that I played in have been left in limbo after all these years. Whatever became of the chaotic partnership of Panthar and Awesome, did Vindicator Stormraven ever unite the kingdoms against the evil queen, what about those troublesome Fumundu brothers, and whatever happened to my very first AD&D character, my so-called Knight Ranger? And the many other characters that never got to retire or tragically save the world. Where’s all the character sheets, that’s another question.

Would I play again if asked? It’s hard to say. I have so many other hobbies that take up so much time, I don’t know if the wif-al unit could take it. But could I turn it down? I’ve often thought I’d cut a hobby to be able to live those glory days again. But I don’t know if we could put it back together in a manner that’s worth the effort. There’s pretty much only two members of our original group left that I know of and one of those would need to DM. The premium number of players is 3-5 and I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable with new people, having been out of it for so long. So I guess it’d have to be the right circumstances.

Anyway, I’ve rambled quite a bit. I don’t know if I got out what I wanted, but I just wanted my former compatriots to know that I valued that time and do miss it quite a bit.

As a final note, check out the following link about a Dragonlance movie: Dragonlance

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