There are so many things I could talk about and this week, it was tough breaking it down to one topic. Last week I talked about passions, but it was a lot of business talk. Now I’d really like to get deeper into a passion I have that has little to do with business, Role Playing Games (RPGs).
I have been playing RPGs since my freshman year in high school. It was about the same time I started playing Magic: The Gathering, but we can come back to that topic another time. I was an impressionable lad, and I was taken under the wing of several older friends and half taught what Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) was about.
Growing up in my house, it was very clear that D&D wasn’t something we were allowed to play. My parents were and still are ultra religious and while I share some of their beliefs, I don’t share their views on RPGs, and D&D in general. With my parent’s views, it was difficult for me to get into the game, but an older friend bought my first Player’s Handbook for 2nd edition D&D and I was off to my first game.
Once a week, we’d gather at the local comic shop and fight goblins, raid dungeons and ride around on dragons. My first character didn’t have a name immediately, because I didn’t have a clue what to name him, and the table decreed he would forever be “Turd”. Eventually I renamed him Trigo, but I learned very quickly that this was the way things were done. Or at least they were with that group.
I played all through high school, and often times I ran games for my group. I’ve played with several different groups and I’ve learned a lot about so many things. I went from D&D, a sword and sorcery game, to several other settings. Each one has offered something different, from rules to stories, and some are just strange.
There are a couple of different types of RPGs you can play. There’s your basic pen and paper table game, like D&D. You sit around with your friends, get a party together and have adventures. These are usually cooperative, and often promote team work and other such things you do in a group like that.
Then there are live action roleplaying (LARP) games. These work in several different ways, but the core is that you don’t sit down at a table, and roll dice. You’re up, moving around, interacting with other players who aren’t always cooperating with you. I’ve played really only one type of these, and that’s the World of Darkness setting from White Wolf. It’s a world where vampires, werewolves and other such creatures are your character choices and they all exist in a modern world beset by darkness and evil.
There are several other kinds of LARPs, all different from each other in one-way or another. Some you use rock, paper, scissors or cards to determine the winner in challenges. Others you use foam covered weapons and Nerf guns to battle in a “boffer” LARP. I can’t say I’ve ever really played a “boffer” LARP, but there is something interesting about hitting people with sticks in the name of a fantasy world.
Currently, I’m running or playing in four games. Once a month we play the Call of Cthulhu RPG for one of our podcasts, Masks of Nyarlathotep. We’ve been playing for over two years and we’re having a blast. I run a 5th edition D&D game once a month-ish, though it’s become difficult to run because of the player’s busy lives. It’s also is the game where my 11 year old son gets to play. Once a week, I run 5th edition D&D encounters for a local gaming store, and this will soon turn into a home campaign where I will get to play instead of run.
Finally, twice a month I play in a LARP. This is in the World of Darkness, Vampire the Masquerade, and we’re playing in the Anarch setting. There are a lot of words there that might not make sense to a lot of you. Just understand that twice a month I get dressed up in my Utilikilt, pretend to be a vampire, and fight off the evil forces of oppression. It’s actually one of the best run LARPs I’ve ever been to and I’m very impressed with how it’s being run.
If you haven’t played an RPG, you should. It’s not for everyone, and I don’t mean that in an exclusionary way. It’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. You should check it out though, because it might be a way for you to experience something new and stimulate your imagination. I’ve seen gaming help people get over fears of public speaking and shyness. I’ve seen it allow people who are awkward in social situations have a way to interact with others and feel normal. I’ve seen it bring out amazing stories where the character you play is central to what’s going on.