A History of Play in Rhode Island, Part 1.

Started by Joshua A.C. Newman, July 09, 2009, 06:52:36 PM

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Joshua A.C. Newman

Quote from: Ron Edwards on July 09, 2009, 05:22:37 PM
All right folks. I appreciate everyone lots and lots, and Joshua, that's the fuckin' awesome character of the year. You ought to post more about those early experiences of play; I sure never did anything like that back then.


So, first off, here's my krewe.

There's Gary. He owns Wonderland, the better of two RPG stores in Newport, RI in the late 80s and early 90s. He's in his mid-20s, maybe 27 at the beginning of the story.

There's Kevin. His dad is a jerk, despite being Newport's fire chief. You'd think a fireman would be a nice guy.

There's Rob. He is a spinner of tall tales. To this day, we call him The Baron. He's quite smart and has obviously decided that the actual facts of his life are uninteresting enough to be supplanted by provably fictional ones. He's also a really good guy. Saved Kevin's life once in a swimming pool (which was not a tall tale).

There's Chris. She works for Gary at Wonderland. She's petite, into RPGs, alternative animation, and industrial music.

There's Myles. Chris introduced us in the store. "You guys should totally get to know each other," she says. Myles looks at me. "Cyberpunk?" he says... We've been brotherly friends ever since.

There's me. I'm probably 16 at the beginning of this, so this is 20 years ago, 1989. I weigh 145, have Robert Smith hair, run cross country, hack telephones, make animated films, and am into industrial music. I'd discovered that girls liked me (ever, at all) that very summer. I work for my dad's workshop — he's an artist and I'm at the floor-sweeping, thing-polishing apprentice point of my career.

There were a couple of other people around occasionally. A dude named Marcus who was from the actual violence side of the punk scene that I didn't like at all; Rob's brother in-law, who was a nice guy, if I recall. A woman named Carol, who was Gary's old friend. But they don't figure large in this series.

The first thing to note here, and this is a big thing, is that none of us had real passion for any published RPG system. Rob liked GURPS, but not passionately. He liked the sourcebooks. I liked Cyberpunk because it was easy to calculate in your head. But mostly, we made our own stuff. Gary's thing was a D&D-derived ruleset that he literally didn't explain to anyone. You rolled a d20 to make things happen, added it to your stat and skill, and if it was over a secret target number, you got to roll again to see how good you did. Or maybe the second roll was only for combat. I don't remember. He implied there was more to it, and I never had a good grasp on when I was supposed to roll what.

Gary, as you might guess, was the GM during this period. Later on, I was to often take the GM hat, but not now, before we got rolling.

I'd played a few games with Gary up in Providence with the Big Kids — his krewe from years past, I think — and there were pirates and stuff. I tried to look like I knew what I was doing.

But the first game with the Newport krewe that I recall we played was a competition for the crown of Britain in a fantasy medieval-like environment. The PCs were knights from all over the known world — mine was a Breton, Rob's dude was a proper Englishman I think, Kevin's was from a fictional British island called Rhodes. There were other knights in competition — the rightful king, whose throne had been usurped and Ballsac The Jaws of Death were the major ones.

(I'm not joking. It was actually Balsac.)

We played for several weeks at Kevin's house. Every week, there was some intrigue or a tournament of some sort. We probably alternated. Intrigue stuff was largely to do with our respective ladies, who were scheming behind the scenes to get into power. (Gary said that this was inspired by my dude's propensity for poisoning and the like).

My dude's thing was to return Britain to the Fomori, so I had the patronage of Crom Cruach, the Bloody Maggot. I fought with a pickaxe and my character cheated a lot. I had a fur mantle with stag antlers mounted on my shoulders, swept up like wings. I put the skulls of my defeated enemies on the antlers. I was subtle in that 16-year-old way.

The only notable parts of this first game were that we used a wide variety of purpose-built system bits for the different tournaments. For the chess tournament, we actually played chess, which I suck at, but won anyway because none of us were very good at it and I got lucky. There was a poetry competition which I remember only because I'd sabotaged Balsac's electric ("magical") instruments so he had to do an acoustic set, which wasn't really his milieu. There was a joust and melée, which worked more or less as you'd expect, though there were tactical options in both, including cheating.

Kevin's guy was eliminated partway through the tourney. I don't have clear memories of what happened with his dude.

My character and Rob's were cousins, and we wound up in melée as a tiebreaker at the end. I wound up within one point of piercing Rob's armor and arm with my pickaxe before he won. It was a pretty good ending: he'd promised me that if he won, he'd put me at his right hand. He was the good sport, after all. So the good king had the corrupt cousin at his side, advising him in the end.

Like I said, this game wasn't spectacularly notable, except that I ask that you note the the relationships being presaged in-game: Gary's the GM, I'm the guy trying to get to the spot of greatest awesome, and Rob's the one being the good guy and making peace. Kevin's more or less coming in last. We'll see that dynamic get played out a lot.

(Chris isn't in this story yet. She'll be in the next one. She hadn't started working for Gary yet, I don't think, which is also why Myles isn't in the story yet.)
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.

Joshua A.C. Newman

So, that's the social ecology.

More interesting play to come.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.