“So, what do you do?”
There are two responses to this question – the uninspired answer that everyone expects you to give. The one I give by default. The one that sends alarm bells ringing my brain halfway through my half-hearted explanation, “stop. you’re killing them with your apathy.”
And then, the answer that’s brimming with passion and excitement and truly speaks to the heart of this man. That’s the answer I never give out. That’s what this place is for.
So, what do I do? I think about RPGs, like – a lot.
I first got involved in tabletop RPGs, let’s call it, four years ago; because quite frankly, nobody is going to fact check me. I was late to the party. Depictions of the glory days of D&D in media like Stranger Things invokes in me a nostalgia that I have no right to claim. There has to be a clever phrase for this false sense of belonging to a moment you never had. Oh yeah, delusion.
I grew up at the teat of video game RPGs – titles that I later learned cribbed so heavily from the rise of TTRPGs that they might as well have been paying royalties to TSR and company. I was primed and ready, but I had no gateway. No cooler older siblings to haze me into their game. My equally nerdy best friend showed no interest in the hobby. No access to a FLGS and certainly no Matt Mercer and a legion of Critters to lure me deeper down the gnoll-hole.
It wasn’t until Roll20 came about that I finally had access. I broke in to the previously esoteric world of pen and paper roleplaying games, on the internet. How anachronistic. Alas, those first few goes at it, they were, unique. I truly hope no matter how addled my brain becomes through the years, I never forget the sound of my first GM shouting to his off camera daughter to, “just put a bowl over the mouse! I’ll get to it later.” And then catapulting my gnome, strapped to a dog, across the river. The game sessions were short lived and mostly forgettable – but that mouse. That damn mouse.
The online play spun into public play with Pathfinder Society at a game shop no more than 5 minutes from my front door. Who knew? Clearly not I. Eventually, I did the inevitable, the unthinkable – I started GMing. That’s when things fell into place.
Scene change. Cross fade. Present day. Over the past three years, I’ve fallen in with an absolutely amazing group of players; nearly all met randomly through Roll20 and G+ gaming communities (RIP). Over that time, we’ve logged hundreds of hours playing dozens of systems, telling countless stories and making honest to god some of the most meaningful memories in my life. It is because of these random invites that I’m booking my third consecutive year spending a week in June in Columbus, OH at Origins Games Fair- playing more great games with more amazing people and making more memories. It’s a vicious cycle.
The side effect of this bountiful wellspring of RPGs is this affliction that I simply cannot shake. My brain is in game mode, constantly. Every bit and bob of media consumed is immediately deconstructed for content. Like a picky toddler dissecting their dinner, hunting down and extracting all the vile ‘green stuff’ before they eat a bite. The world is my chicken casserole and all the “green stuff” is gamable goodness. Here’s the trick. I love the green stuff. You would too kid, just eat your dang dinner.
Next month I’ll be 35, halfway to 70. I’m banking heavily on a few more decades of kicking around design ideas with good friends, obsessing over the latest Kickstarter launches and deliveries, prepping for future sessions, binging on backlogs of Actual Plays and just generally just keeping my brain whirling with making the make-believe, real.
I like RPGs. Yeah, like – a lot.