It has begun. Again. Sort of.
Remember how a while ago I talked about getting into tabletop role-playing? Well, that didn’t materialize quite as expected. That is, until now. My world has come together. It is beautiful, complex, and massive in scope. It is filled to the brim with intriguing, self-interested characters, spanning the scope of good and evil and every shade of grey in between. And, perhaps most importantly, we’re using a simpler system that I can pretty easily run on my own.
I just did a bit of a test run to determine how well I could handle the system (New World of Darkness, it’s called) on my own. And I got to experience the joy of flying by the seat of my pants.
I’ll set the scene for you. We have our two player characters. To avoid bogging this down in world-specific terminology, I’ll stick to layman’s terms. So the player characters: one of them is a northerner (from a culture analagous to that of the Vikings) and one of them is a southerner. Already you are beginning to see the vast complexity of my world! So the northerners and southerners don’t like each other all that much. There’s plenty of them living together, but tensions, because their people have warred off-and-on for years, until a recently agreed-upon truce put an end to the fighting for good (for now). Our characters don’t care too much about their differing nationalities, and so they get together to go a-questing.
To avoid arousing any suspicion, the northerner disguises himself for the journey, as they are traveling in southerner lands. At this point, all of my ideas were used up. I realized with a small amount of (well-hidden) panic that I had no idea what to do next. So I improvised. “You see a burning church,” I told the players. Of course, they wanted to investigate. “Um…” I said, “The town has been abandoned, but some people were staying in this chapel before vandalizing it.” They decided to look around the town.
At this point, I was struck by the notion that, since my players both appeared to be southerners, I could have some xenophobic northerners attack them. My plan was for them to discover that these men were only attacking them because they supposed them to be vile men of the south, at which point my northern player character could attempt to talk his way out of the situation. My dream did not materialize. My players aren’t that type of dudes. So they just smashed the skulls of their antagonists, took their shit, and continued their journey.
I know, it doesn’t seem like much. But it was fun as hell to do some on-the-spot storytelling, and I remembered why I became so interested in writing and developing fantasy stories in the first place. The opportunity for exploration, both of character personalities and the strange and unknown world that surrounds them, is incredibly appealing to me. I even had the last brigand to die say something along the lines of “You damn southerners…” just before expiring. Even though the players didn’t get to experience the full depth of the situation I had laid out for them, I loved just knowing that there was possibility there. There was the option to learn something more about my world and the people that inhabit it, and sometimes it’s those tiny, almost unnoticed hints that make a place seem real.
So that was my first experience GM’ing a tabletop RPG session. I had a blast, and I’m only disappointed that I didn’t learn about this delightfully dorky activity sooner in my life. One more test run and then we’re all gonna gather, including my lovely girlfriend (she’s cool like that), and start the gears turning on a real story.
Oh, and I even got my own set of dice. These ones, in fact:
So now I’m a real RPG (Role-playin’ Gangsta).
Keep creating your own worlds and stories, folks. And even when it’s fantasy, always keep it real. Peace out.