2012 Why I Roleplay
My Dad taught me 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons before I knew how to read. I had to reroll my stats a few times when we started, so I could play a Paladin. They didn’t just let you play whatever you wanted back in the day. It was a defining time, playing D&D with my Dad and brother. My most memorable experience from our adventurers was when my Dad sent my Paladin on a quest to sneak into a Den of Frost Giants to steal a Holy Avenger.
Once my brother and I figured out the system, we started playing without our Dad and DMed our own games. But we weren’t exactly looking for personal creativity yet, so we found the monster with the lowest Difficulty to highest Reward ratio, and our characters farmed them for XP and Gold. The monster was an underwater Electric Eel, entire underwater caves full of them. It was silly, but it was the beginnings of my brother and me taking games apart.
Later our Dad ran games of Dream Park for us. It was a different system from D&D, where anything could happen. The premise was that we were all people from the not so distant future playing a perfect virtual reality game, and going on adventures through fantasy, space, and time. I felt a lot more room to be creative playing this game.
In order to help visualize the game, we used our old Battle Masters map. It had a lot of nice terrain, and it worked if we were sneaking through a forest or assaulting a base on an alien world.
Once I was in school, my friends started coming over to play 3E together. We weren’t invested in the built in D&D setting, so we would always create new stories with new worlds each time we started a campaign. And when we made characters, it was important that each had a background, persona, and goals. It was even a requirement that everyone had to draw a picture of their character on the back of their sheet, even if you weren’t any good at drawing. This eventually led to a three-phase campaign that went from middle school into college, an epic that will be getting its own article.
One thing I always believed was that role-playing was fun, and something to be shared with others. I wanted more people to play with and share my passion. When my friend and I were in 8th grade, we had to do a massive research project on any topic. We decided to do it on Role-playing games. We studied and wrote on the history, shot a movie, and convinced 12 8th graders, 6 boys and 6 girls, who’d never played D&D before to give it a shot.
In a shocking turn of events, the boys and girls split into two different teams and tried to hunt each other down. The girls hired a team of mercenaries who quickly dispatched the boys. But everyone had a good time, and it proved something to me that I’ve taken with me through life.
People you wouldn’t expect are willing to experience role-playing games if you make it fun and accessible to them.
I am always trying to introduce new people to role-playing, because I think there is a lot to be gained from the experience. Despite the negative stereotype, I believe it helps people socialize. I’ve met most of my best friends through gaming. I basically learned reading and math through tabletop and video games. And it is a constant creative outlet for me to explore new ideas, worlds, and characters.
College was my first time experiencing Live Action Role-Playing. It was great. Now this wasn’t foam weapon LARPing; it was Vampire the Masquerade, which is a little different. It was all about talking, character, scheming, backgrounds, and history. There were fights and vampire powers, but you used them by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors, and comparing some stats. I saw it as improv with rules and goals. Also, the cool people wore costumes.
My games in high school were with about 5-10 people, but my LARPing group had 30-40 members, and only gained more during my time in school. I met a lot of great friends whom I still talk to today. We collectively told some really cool stories and each year we would alter the rules of the game to make it a little better for the next year.
While in the group I came up with a civil war ghost story that I really liked. I didn’t see it being made into a movie anytime soon, since it was pretty violent, involved a lot of monsters and effects, and I wasn’t exactly making any big budget movies at the time. So to explore this idea, I created a new LARPing system for “Horror Movies.” My fellow STs (Storytellers), and I called the game “Torture to Retest.” It was a big hit, led to me running the same system the next two years, and I went back a few years after graduating to run a Sci Fi Horror story.
Now that I live in LA, I still primarily socialize with other gamers. I love board game nights and often play games at Game Empire in Pasadena where they have a monthly D&D day. I explore story ideas in gaming, and am always trying to construct new and more complex narratives.
More than anything, I try to meet more like-minded people, and spread my love for gaming to people who have never tried it before. My two goals in writing this blog are to share what I like about role-playing games, and to introduce more people to playing them. In a fun and welcoming setting.