Monday, April 25, 2011

Social Gaming and the Angry Purist

Order of the Keepers of the True Game

Okay, I'm not really angry about the subject.

But I have had my share of frustration dealing with this style or philosophy of play.

I first heard the term "social gaming" on a role playing forum--I didn't know what it meant.

I do now...boy, do I ever.

 Let me say there is nothing wrong per se with social gaming--if you like that. All table top gaming is social, of course.

But social gamers are people who are of the opinion that "Hey, the rules don't matter much, the setting isn't the most important thing, the most important thing is that we all have fun and laugh together and roll some dice and just have a good time, koombaiyah."

If that sort of gaming experience satisfies your need to game, then go for it. I'm not putting social gaming down at all. You will not need to be nearly as discriminating in who joins your game as they are just there to hang out and the game is the vehicle for that. I think that's great for people, great for the hobby. I like social gaming from time to time.

But if you are searching for a specific type of game experience, especially one that is very tied into a particular setting or set of rules, nothing is more frustrating than social gaming.

Settings like Professor M.A.R. Barker's Tekumel or something like Middle Earth, RuneQuest, Star Wars or Star Trek, or HP Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos--these settings evoke a certain game atmosphere and enjoyment that comes from immersing the game in that environment. This is because such game effort are largely a fandom effort ...mixing the setting with anything else spoils it for these fans...plain and simple. Social Gamers think such notions are stuffy and too serious...but then, they haven't love for the setting that you do.

For example, if you love Middle Earth and you want to create a game that is faithful to the books and films, you simply have no room for characters who do not conform to the setting. A player who names their character Grognak and runs him like Conan doesn't get it...or doesn't care about the experience that the purists are trying to achieve, which is a simulation of Middle Earth. Conversely if you are running a Hyborean campaign and someone runs around trying to have a Frodo or Aragorn type character, to put it bluntly that person is refusing to play in your Hyborean campaign.

If you are trying to build a gaming group that is faithful to a setting like the ones mentioned, you need to aim your game group advertising at fans of that specific game and setting. And you need to discuss this frankly and clearly with all potential players.

 Let them know some of the setting quirks that differ from other games...try to sell them on it, who knows, they may be intrigued and want to play. Or they may decide such features are not their cup of tea and politely decline. Either outcome is good if you are aiming at a purist approach.

Obscure and retro settings have very loyal followings but these folks are often scattered to the four winds so it may be harder to cobble a group together this way but a few players who love and understand a setting--or are willing to learn it--is better than a larger group who will become bored or frustrated with it. Novice players are sometimes the best to draft for such a game, since they have no bias against it.

If you like Dungeons and Dragons best,  you are lucky--this game probably has the widest following among fantasy role players and usually incorporates highly adaptable and mutable settings. It may be that you like a variety of games--this is fortunate too. You can let people know up front that you might be trying different things. One option is to run a regular game more palatable to general tastes and run a monthly or bi-monthly game for the purists.

But it's best to settle it up front because almost more important than getting a group together is getting together the group you want. There is nothing selfish or power hungry about this--don't let social gamers guilt you! You want to role play in the setting in question...that's a big part of why you're playing, as well as fellowshipping with other fans of the setting.

To me, it is selfish of the social gamer who joins a game knowing criteria you have been clear about from the beginning and that player then refuses to cooperate--let them cobble together a group based on social gaming, or at least comply with what you are trying to do. If you were up front about this from the beginning, you do no wrong in insisting that they try to make a go of it.

I have developed some very stodgy and immovable opinions about this. If the proper groundwork has been laid and players knew coming into it what it would be, I think the only accommodation a DM and the other players should offer to those who join is patience while they learn the setting and rules.

 If, on the other hand, you get a player who is deliberately circumventing the game premise, culture, setting, etc, I think you should kill off their characters.

Yes, I said that.

If you are playing Tekumel , for instance, and the player character insists on insulting Imperial Tsolyani troops or high officials, well, that is totally out of setting and not something a person reared on Tekumel is likely to do.

The player may innocently insist "But my character is different. My character is an individual. My character is a rebel."


Your different, individualistic, rebellious character winds up  taking the High Ride (the impaling stake) since that's how Tsolyani culture deals with such persons. They are usually considered insane or possessed and not likely to be dealt with with more compassion than the wilfully criminal. The character axing can be handled purely through role playing and the game and doesn't need to come off as vindictive or malicious.

After losing any number of characters this way and being sidelined at the gaming table, even the most stubborn player will most likely lose interest. The person should have realized that the intricacies of Tsolyani culture are one of the nuances of Tekumel that make the game appealing to its fans. They play it so they can role play Tsolyani or Shen culture.

It's kind of like playing tennis or golf. If tennis enthusiasts meet up, they want to play tennis. Or use golf.

These games have certain rules. You get a player who says "But hey, it's fun for me just to throw the balls under the net or bounce them very high."

That might be fun to them...but it isn't tennis, and they have ruined the tennis game as far as tennis enthusiasts are concerned. Would they elect to play with such a fellow? Then why should your game meet up be any different if you are wanting to run Star Wars and you get someone playing like it's anime?

You may need to politely ask such a player to refrain from the game altogether--this is an unpardonable social gaffe in the eyes of the social gamer but it is actually perfectly fair. If the offender is a friend, maybe you can join up at the table from time to time over a setting and rules system that you can agree upon.

I've had good gaming friends who politely refrained from joining the setting I my case Tekumel...because they were up front with the fact that they found it constraining and too exotic to their taste. I appreciated that. Ultimately, if I get a game like this going, myself and two players who really want to play is better than the frustrations we will meet up with down the road in a larger group who aren't settled on the question at hand.

Pardon my waxing eloquent over this issue at such length. But I really feel it bears inclusion in a discussion of putting together a gaming group since it is something that, in my opinion, should be handled in the very beginning.

You don't want to approach it like a religious zealot since that can be off putting--you might simply mention something like "Now the setting is really going to be the focus of the game I'm trying to put together, would you be willing to read up a bit on the material at such and such web site?"

If you can take the time to print up some simple campaign primers to give new or prospective players, this will be very helpful.

Remember, getting a game together is not the most important thing in the world.

Getting together the game you want takes priority over that.

And the world is a big enough place that you can most likely do just that!

Putting Together a Gaming Group-Seven Steps

So you want to cobble together a group of table top role playing gamers. You have an  itch to play but you don't have a clue who to game with or how to go about attracting fellow hobbyists to your table.

What is the best way to go about it?

Maybe you're a lucky member of a group who grew up together and have had an ongoing campaign for many years and you never want for players or a DM. That is awesome!

But if you find yourself a lone pilgrim in the gaming lands, this article is for you.

I will share a few suggestions that have helped me to assemble several solid and relatively long lasting gaming fellowships. These suggestions are not only aimed at how to gather a party, but also how to gather or find a group you will be happy with and avoid some of the drama and headaches that are the occasional pitfalls in the dungeon of the gaming community.

These suggestions are written in a fashion that will mainly speak to people who wish to actually conduct the game...titles for such insane persons include: moderator, referee, Game Master, Dungeon Master (DM), Story Teller and so on.  For those of you who simply wish to join an existing group or create a group in which you can  be a player, all of the below mentioned methods will serve you just as well.

Number One: Be Ready

Have enough gaming materials on hand to supply for everyone who might join. Make it to where a person can show up and simply begin playing or character creation. This means you have all the necessary rulebooks, enough dice, paper and pencils and miniature figurines. Be self sufficient and depend on no one else to supply necessary components to the game experience in case they don't show up, quit, the game, etc. You may also attract newbies and they will most likely have nothing and not know any rules. If you are going to DM, have a good grasp on the rules of the system you plan to use. If you have taken the initiative to begin a "from scratch" group, you have a quasi-leadership role and thus should be self sufficient in this area. Although creating characters can be a very fun process in itself, your having a good selection of pre-made characters on hand will help everyone jump right into playing. There is plenty of time for the players to learn character creation later, especially if they are new. If you go the route of pre-made characters, have them on decent character sheets and illustrations really help first time players. If you do intend to create characters, plan for the first session to be mainly about that and getting acquainted with your new friends and going over setting material.

Number Two: Find a Place

If you will be meeting strangers you met through poster ads or the Internet, I don't suggest meeting them in your home right off for obvious reasons. If you are all unknowns, it might be best to find a public place to play the first few games before you open your home or go to someone else's place. Many gaming and comic book shops offer tables in the back for public games--however, while some love the environment, I have often found these to be crowded and noisy places to try and run a game. There are a few other options. A college campus is an excellent place to play...on weekends the student union lounge or cafeteria is often empty of activity and you can stake out a table. Some campus libraries have enclosed study rooms that are first come first serve and my gamers and I have often used these for a game. Some of the cheaper eateries have rooms they will let people use for a very nominal fee--a local restaurant owner offered to let my group meet in his private dining area on the simple condition that each player order a meal. Libraries often have rooms they will rent out. If a fee is to be paid, make sure all players know this up front if you plan to share the cost. Other places to find a space are community centers, used book stores with additional space, and just about any place you can think of and make arrangements with the owners. Once the gaming group becomes comfortable with each other, you may move to someones house or apartment, but one consideration is that if you get people to your group that are somewhat distant from each other, a public place centrally located that isn't too far for any of you can be a good regular place. This brings me to my next suggestion, though.

Number Three: Try to Stay Local

This is more of some advice on Step Two. When you are planning for your strategy on  advertising for players and where you are going to play, I would recommend that you search for people as close to the place you want to play ..and possible. The easier and more convenient it is for everyone to attend the game, the better. People are less likely to be late, they will not eventually get tired of the hassle of a long journey and quit coming, and you are more likely to feel comfortable with people from your own community if it comes to using someones home as a meeting place. While on this subject, I will offer this sage advice: avoid offering rides! Sounds cruel, but with few exceptions, aside form safety considerations, this hurts a gaming group. Crossed communications result in showing up late, some people don't offer gas money, and if the usual ride giver doesn't attend you must either deal with the inconvenience or be minus yet another player. I don't mean to offend people who may find themselves without means of transportation at the moment and as I said, there can be exceptions but for the most part I would advise everyone getting themselves to and from a game.

Number Four: Create A Web Resource

This step is certainly not essential but it can be very helpful. With the proliferation of free web forums, blogging platforms, and other free sites, some sort of web page can be set up relatively quickly and simply. The site can include meet up information, links to game and setting information, and even a discussion page. And once you do get a group going, you'll find it a good resource for an ongoing campaign. It's a place to chat about the game, post maps, artwork and adventure logs, and make important announcements to players. Remember not to include personal information--adopt a moniker and provide an e-mail so you can be contacted. You can include this link on any posters or Internet advertisements you put out. You can even get some business cards printed up very cheaply through a company like Vista-Print with your name and e-mail, the site link, and a name like "The Gaming Collective" or something similar--you can leave the card at game shops or hand them out to prospective players. With a link included, they can go home and check it out. You can put some interesting graphics on the website to make it visually appealing.

Number Five: Finding Players

This is the fun part. After taking into consideration the first four points, you should be looking for players.

There are lots of ways to do this, but before I get into them I must first advise you to get some things straight in your advertising. It is wise to include an age mention, and if you want an adult group, include the note "18 +" in the listed criteria. Having no minors there absolves you of a lot of responsibility--if any teenagers attend your game they should be accompanied by a parent or adult sibling--you may want no teenagers there at all as sometimes older people don't want to always watch what they have to say and do. Or you may actually want to have a family friendly group where younger kids can play. You need to decide this in advance, and make sure everyone who will be joining the meet up knows these type of things. You will save yourself a lot of trouble and hard feelings from people who feel cramped because the dynamic of the group was totally not what they expected.

If you are meeting publicly, alcohol and smoking aren't usually an issue but you should decide if you want any of these things present at your games. Some players like to drink beer while gaming! Nothing wrong with this, but if you are a recovering alcoholic who games to have an alternative activity, it becomes a problem! These are things you should hash out in your ad or after you e-mail or talk with potential gamers.

Now that you know the age level and general tone of the meet ups you have in mind, you can search for players. Potential ways to attract players include the following:

A. People you know. Why try to attract a group of perfect strangers--introduce your friends or family members to the hobby. School, church, the workplace and such like places are good places to find people to game with. I've introduced several of my friends to gaming. There has been a stigma that followed fantasy games from their early days, but for the most part the huge number of people who have entered the hobby and its popular success has minimized or eliminated this in most circles. The cool thing about going this route is that you get to brainwash your new recruits into your particular style of gaming or system of preference--get 'em while they're young, treat 'em rough, and don't tell 'em nothin'! Of course, the drawback to this pool of players, if you are inclined to consider it a drawback (I don't) is that you will be doing a lot of teaching--rules, how to play, etc. But if you can have the patience for that, there something about interested neophytes that creates a very inspiring energy. I will be writing a  future article about tips for gaming with newbies.

B. Place posters with your contact information in appropriate places. I would put your phone number and/or your e-mail. If you're worried about security and privacy, create an e-mail account specifically for the game and use that. The poster should indicate when you want to meet, the general number of players you want to gather, the game you intend to play, that no one needs to bring anything, a possible website link where they can read information about the game, and a nice graphic to catch their attention. Make sure the flier looks good and not garish. Ask to hang it at: bookstores, game or comic shops, public bulletin boards such as laundry-mats and grocery stores, college campus bulletins, libraries and anywhere else you think it will be seen. I have had some success with this method.

C. Use the Internet. I highly recommend using Meet Up, the social connection network. One gamer in our city set up a role playing community there that has a couple hundred members now and I have connected with upwards of eight to ten gamers through his page. It costs some money to set up a community but chances are one already exists....just enter your zip code.The good thing about Meet Up is people go there looking for a specific community and also you can post detailed information about your game and what you are (and aren't) looking for. The site can be found at . Craigslist is another possibility, though with all the dangerous things happening as a result of Craigslist meet ups, you should be very careful. The strictly platonic section and activities and groups pages are places I have advertised and have met up with a few gamers that way. Another downside to CL is that people who aren't specifically going there to look for table top games may see your ad and you can get some flakes this way. But I did make a good connection through this venue. There are a number of gaming sites, some run by game shops, where people advertise for local games in your area. Sometimes, gaming systems have excellent websites that include discussion forums where local players meet each should check and see if your game publisher does. Even if the publisher is defunct or no longer runs the game, many older systems have fan sites that include such forums.

I will be posting some links for these as soon as I get them.

This is an excellent avenue as again, you can be specific in your information, and you are mostly dealing with people already familiar with your game system and the hobby in general. Observe all sensible safety protocols when meeting players off the Internet. That said, the Internet method proved to be the primary avenue for me in obtaining a core group of players, supplemented by adding some friends and family members.

D. Newspaper ad. This is not a common method but it can work. In the eighties I joined a group as a player after seeing their ad in the classified section of the local newspaper. We played only a few sessions together as they had a different gaming style than I liked but I give the example to show that the newspaper ad can work. An ad of this nature was relatively inexpensive the last time I checked. You could also see if you can get away with writing a letter to the editor about role playing games, maybe addressing common misconceptions about the hobby, and include an Internet  link and contact information like your e-mail. Some editors will let you do things like this, some won't. But if they do, you may attract a player or two that way.

E. Volunteer to run a game somewhere as a public or private event. I have never actually tried this yet but I think it bears mentioning. I know that someone set up a "D&D Night" at a local library in the next town and it got pretty big. It was mainly aimed at teens, and given the stigma that is attached to role playing games here in the Bible Belt, I was surprised that the library allowed it. But here is a chance to use the hobby to do some real good aside form the pleasure of playing. you could volunteer at a children's or veteran's hospital, a library, a youth detention center, or some such place. Such a gaming group would have it's whole unique dynamic I'm sure, but you never know, maybe someone who is depressed and needing a hobby would get something positive out of it. D&D as civic duty--who would have thought!

F. Be proactive in meeting new people in any venue. If you have a gaming tee shirt that indicates you are in the hobby or a hat or button, it may lead to a conversation with a potential new player. I once made a gaming contact with a girl who saw my friends and I going over some game material in cafe at a book seller. She used to play, and when she saw the dice, she came over and said, "You guys are gamers? Cool! What do you play?" So be open to new people--don't be a recluse. Unless you are wanting to play only with fellow recluses...nothing wrong with it, nothing wrong with it all.

Number Six: Deal With Social Gaming Up Front

If you are wanting to run a game based on a specific setting, historical period, or mythology, you should be clear about this up front. Some people like to simply get together around the gaming table and the game is secondary to such a meeting. That's social gaming, as opposed to the purist approach. In my opinion, it's better to have a smaller group of players unified around an established theme than a larger group that social games, unless the latter is what you are interested in.

I cover this subject in much more detail in an article I wrote SocialGaming and the Angry Purist

Note that everything I have said about social gaming also pertains to the question of the regular DM. If you plan on DMing most or all of the games, its good to let people know you are primarily interested in this and not playing so that people who get the itch to DM will not become frustrated waiting a turn at bat. If you plan to give others a chance, let them know this as well.

Number Seven: Be Polite and Don't Burn Bridges

Given the tone of my soap box preaching along the lines of point number six, you may think I am a radical purist who doesn't care about social niceties at all.

Very untrue. I'm just about avoiding future problems and frustrations. But I can't stress this step enough. I've offended a few people accidentally form time to's inevitable, but I have made a strong effort to treat everyone decently.

Deal with everyone you meet as a person and treat them with respect, even if they don't join your gaming group. or if they do join and you later part ways.

Keep their contact information and stay in touch, as you never know when you or they might have a change in gaming styles of systems.

If someone doesn't elect to attend your meet ups, put them in touch with gamers you may know of who might be running a campaign more up their alley.

Help other gaming groups to grow as it helps the hobby, creates good will, and also creates the occasional cross over effect that widens your pool of potential players and DMs.

Closing Advice

On that note,  take what you can get in the way of numbers. So you can only get two other players besides youself. Don't wait until you get a large number--get the group established and when it has some longevity and the campaign develops a character and flavor of its own you'll find that it will draw the additonal player or two in at some point and such players will find something endurable and steady in the play experience. They'll have the sense they are joining something that has been settled and matured and that makes them feel comfortable because there is..for lack of a better word...a routine they can quikcly assimilate to. Newer groups are still searching for this when they begin--so there is an advnatage to being a latecomer.

It is rather difficult to have any fun with only a DM and one player in my opinion, so I would hold out for at least three total, and if you are newer to running a game or handling a group meet up I'd keep the number of players down to six total--four or five is optimum, though.

A final word along this vein, and this is purely my preference. You can chuck it if you like.

I make it a  point to have absolutely no pressure about attending my games. I'm religious about this--as a DM I do not ask for any commitment.

 Gaming is supposed to be fun--not like work or school where you cringe when something conflicts with the schedule or you fel guilty about doing something else. I am well aware many or even most would disagree and claim they have to have something to run their game on but I feel if you run a  good game you will have players and open atmospehere is better than one where people feel obligated to play in your adventure just because you played in their session.

What if they don't enjoy yours? What if they want to have dinner with their family instead of game? What if they can only attend bi weekly instead of weekly?

 I accept such situations. I have always found a core group will meet faithfully and the others will straggle in from time to time as they come--I make room for the stragglers and I run every game with the same enthusiasm whether I have three players or six, whether a key player didn't show up or did. When I'm playing as opposed to DMing, I really get turned off by having my gaming experience turn into a gripe session where the DM blames the adventure folding or not going well on someone not showing up. Shoot man, you're the story teller--this isn't set in stone--don't short the people at your table just because of the people who aren't! Make a story innovation to deal with their character's absence and move on.

Sure, I have been frustrated many times by people who didn't show or who dropped out at crucial moments. But I adopted a philosophy of "Work with the people there right then, not those who are not." I'm going to have a good session regardless of who is or isn't there. If I find it often that only one or two players show out of a larger group, I am obviously doing something wrong and the problem lies with me and not the other players--I've got to work on my game. If you build it, they will come.

This again heads into the territory of a separate article about gaming group chemistry, but I include it here because I advise you to adopt this philosophy when putting together a new group.

This concludes my advice. I'm sure much more could be added by other gamers but this should help you put together a group. Good luck, and good gaming!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Mazes is intended to be an old school role playing blog. I took the title from an old movie I always loved from the eighties--I think it was Tom Hanks first big role.

The movie was Mazes and Monsters from the book by Rona Jaffe.

The movie attempts to portray D&D in a very negative light but aside from that, it's works on a good B-Movie level. It's is corny, over acted, and about thirty minutes too long but it has some really cool maps and monsters in it--like the reptillian Gorvil.

The Gorvil....Yikes!

My favorite scenes are the ones where the group is playing Mazes and Monsters and in one of these sessions a map is shown that the Maze Controller calls The Forbidden Mazes of the Jennerak". The Jennerak, he relates, are "a mutated people, once human, now unspeakably vicious."

The lost civilization of the Jennerak are only one idea I took from the film's fictional game and incorporated into my D&D setting. I also created a playing surface like the one in the movie by painting a large piece of cardboard, marking it off in one inch squares , and covering it with a large sheet of plexi-glass we can draw scenery on with dry erase...we've had some awesome games using that surface.

Also, it never occured to me to play by candle light until I saw this movie, but wehad some great sessions doing so--really sets a mood though I can't recomend it since  it's potentially dangerous. Instead, try those oil lamps they sell at department stores and some medieval themed music for a great gaming experience...

"Okay...make a saving throw versus goofiness."

In Search of the Perfect Game

My introduction to the game was through a curious looking book I saw on the shelf of a mall book store in Oklahoma in 1982.

Libraries and bookstores were probably my favorite place to be as a preteen boy and these were handy places for my mother to deposit me while she went grocery shopping or ran errands.

So it was that one particular day I was browsing in the book store and spied a colorful tome which stood out from the others.

The title on the cover said Monster Manual.

The book was adorned with painted illustrations of mythical and fearsome looking beasts.

I picked up the intriguing volume and began to flip through it, immediately grabbed by the black and white smorgasbord for the eyes contained therein.

Every page was covered with pen and ink renderings of fanciful denizens of mythology, heroes with swords, and detailed descriptions of the habits and habitation of monsters.

"The most powerful and respected true giant is the storm giant. These great, generally reclusive creatures inhabit only out of the way places...their abodes are typically cloud islands, mountain peaks, or underwater, and there the storm giants will build their spacious castles..."

This entry was accompanied by a picture of a fierce bearded giant catching lightning in his hands.

My eleven year old imagination was immediately fired, and when my mother reappeared I begged her to buy me the book.

She did, and I treasured it for months, reading the monster descriptions and drawing crude copies of them.

However, alongside all of these images were lists of statistics and numbers and percentages which were incomprehensible to me. I loved the book but I had no idea what all of this very technical and complicated data meant. I gathered that it was a part of some game called Dungeons and Dragons but that was the extent of my knowledge.

I was not to find out what it all meant until two years later, when I found myself staying for several months with my grandparents in a rural Oregon community. There had been some very bad step family friction in my home, and my mom thought a stay with her folks might do me some good. I really loved my Grandma and Grandpa and the whole thing seemed like an adventure but it was a pretty remote locale compared to what I was used to. Only two other boys lived nearby, and I soon met them. Richard, Carl and I would be schoolmates when school started up. but there was a great deal of summer left.

The second day we hung out together, one of them said, "Hey, why don't we play D&D?"

"What's D&D?" I asked,

"Dungeons and Dragons," he said. "You've never played?"

I related that I had not but that I'd heard of it and owned a book like that.

With that said, the three of us retreated to his house and in his room out came the books, paper and dice.

He explained the basic concept to me, we rolled up a character for me...a halfling thief named Shadow...and we began to play.

It went something like this...

"You are walking down a shady road in a tall and overgrown forest...your companion is a dwarf named Cutter...your short sword swings at your side as you survey the mystical looking woodlands around you. Suddenly, you hear a noise in the thick undergrowth...filthy bandits leap from hiding and point their spears and crossbows at you...what do you do?"

I was immediately hooked and hardly a day of summer went by that did not find us in Richard's room exploring the wonders of a mythical fantasy world. Even when school started we played most nights, and on weekends we spent whole nights up in my grandfather's garage attic space playing the game from dusk to dawn. The adventures were endless, as we seemed on a mission to ecounter every monster in the manual and find and use every magical item in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

 Maybe a psychologist would say something about me using the game as a vehicle to escape the mental stress of the problems back home. But I really don't think that was it..I had always loved fairy tales and Sinbad and the Lord of the Rings and the game seemed like a magic carpet that could actually carry you to those mythical lands. There something about when you're that young and you can vividly imagine things...all sorts of things like what that lady at the store looks like under her sweater...but also fantastic and exciting things like magical castles and undersea kingdoms. The places we invented for our games became landscapes in oil upon the canvass of our imaginations and it was a vision we all shared.

We didn't use the miniature figures (I didn't even know they existed at that time) and truthfully we didn't even use all the rules. We understood Armor Class and Hit points, though, and could consult the combat charts to see what number we needed to roll on a twenty sided dice to hit a monster or determine if the monster had hit us...that was enough.

I eventually said goodbye to Richard and Carl, but not to fantasy role playing games because that became a life long interest. I moved onto a street in a nieghborhood where two other boys my age played D&D, and we spent at least two years on the games, often running marathon sessions from night until dawn and trying out all the various types of games being released during this burgeoning period for the hobby (it was the mid eighties). We played AD&D, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Aliens, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and just about any sort of game that was published. And we grew a good friendship and had a lot of fun.

I played heavily through out my teen age years but quit playing when I was twenty one and got married and had kids. Yet I never forgot about it, and I always missed it. And at 37, I returned to the hobby I had abandoned and found it just as fun as it had always been.

I created a home brew game and played it with my preteen kids around the kitchen table, and they enjoyed it. My daughter drifted out since she was never as much into fantasy themed stories but my son became a role playing game hobbyist. He is 17 now and has written several fantasy short stories and as I write this there sits on the kitchen table a freshly hand drawn four page map of a world of his own creation.

As of this writing we have made many good friedns who we met wround the gaming table.
I'm 40 now, and I know that I will probably always play. I am still always in search of the perfect game...