Every Wednesday night (and the occassional Sunday) I entertain a small group of friends to a night of storytelling. Each have a part in telling the story. Its not much different from the online forums where you read the first leg of the story and the next person continues it. There is a plotline to adhere to but the path to it can take any number of creative twists and turns. Its only limitations are those of the persons involved. The stories are set in a world far removed from our own where magic is the core of all that exists and wealth is found typically in the clutches of greedy dragons. The story is mine, the game its based on is Dungeons and Dragons. The flagship of the RolePlaying geekdom. Some of you may scoff and judge.. that's your prerogative. My wife was very much like those people, until she tried it. Some say its a form of devil worship, to that I say "fiddlesticks". Or that its just a form of escapism, which to that I say, "you are correct. But its no more worse than watching TV to escape, or reading a book, or any other pasttime that takes your mind off of everyday things". The stigma that comes from this genre is from the stories of those that abuse it. The troubled kids who run around killing their parents because they believe they are vampires. Or explore a sewer line and whack off an arm because in their game his character lost an arm. Yes, these stories are true. But are rare nuggets of fanaticism that comes with life. These games didn't create the mental stability, it was already there and unfortunately was used as an outlet. A movie that really captured the slow mental unravelling and how it can be attached to RP is "Mazes and Monsters" starring a young Tom Hanks.
I grew up with a very active imagination. My brother, two years my younger, and I would re-enact great wars with our action figures. The dirt mounds my dad would have brought in to level out the back "40" were staging areas for the evil geniuses. Even when the idea of GI Joe faded that didn't stop us. With a bit of paint, cloth, glue and imagination we had our version of the Justice League or X-Men (whoever was cooler to us at the time). I started into the "world" of table roleplaying when I was around 13 when my parents bought me the "Basic Edition" version of Dungeons & Dragons. This intrigued me a bit but with no one in the neighborhood really into sitting at a table for a couple hours when they could be exploring the wilderness that was our backyard, I shelved the game. A few years later when I could drive and took my brother to the local comic store, a whole new world opened to me and courted the angst in me.. I found "Vampire: The Masquerade" and a group of fellow imaginists.
We would meet every Saturday night at this guy's house and delve into the gothic punk world of darkess. This was action figures in first person perspective and I loved it. We never believed we were real vampires, never really drank blood.. it was an innocent way to tap into that primal spirit and be something else for one night. To be fair, I have met with gamers that probably should have been institutionalized a long time ago. The ones who live and breathe the game, day and night. The ones who come to the games dressed as their character and transform their entire persona to match their character for that night (or even permanently). The ones that become filled with REAL anguish at the demise of their character. "Dude, its just a game.. lighten up." I continued with this group for a while until the storyteller up and left his wife. That was rough as he always painted her as a bitch and she's really a pretty wonderful person. She's been a good friend ever since that day. A few of us in the group didn't want to break ties so we took root elsewhere and moved to "Star Wars" by West End Games (Now owned by WoTC). Being one of the fortunate to have grown up with Star Wars this was a wonderful way to continue the story after Luke, Han and Leia. This continued on for many years off and on in between the many spurts of real life butting in. Eventually I got a job away from home and had to say goodbye to my Roleplaying buddies.
We stay in touch and trade stories.
While in TX, I found a group that was into Impromptu Theatre or Live Action Role Play based on Vampire: The Masquerade and while the group as a whole was on the freakish side even for me, there was a small splinter group that was pretty decent. Now this experience was even better... it took the action figure first person perspective and gave an almost real (or 3D) twist to it. I was (am) also very interested in acting and directing which made it all that more appealing. Eventually this group split and formed its out Troupe and it was here that I found a great group of Storytellers. But real life again reared its evil head and I was forced to pack up my family and move to CA.
Moving into a new area always means having to look for a new group which can be pretty scary and tedious. You have to weed through the weirdos and fanatics and yet find someone who can share in the creative work of storytelling. I've been lucky enough to find great sets of people both here in CA and in TX. I still trade stories with the group in TX and occasionally will collaborate on stories together.
Anyway, Good times and friends were had.. and many fond memories and not one of us ate the heads of bats, murdered our parents, or mutilated our bodies (except for the occassional non-game piercings). If you've interested or not, I would like to invite you all to participate in your local World Game Day and join in on the Geekapollooza!!