My last campaign was called Cthulhu Gypsies and it was set in the province of Dobrogea, around 1845. We played 6 to 8 games a year, starting in december of 2007 and ending in some sort of gruesome Mi-Go tragedy around november of 2013. Six years, and over forty game sessions. At first, these games took place on Saturday afternoons, but we soon moved them to Sundays, because most of the players always had other engagements on Saturdays. Around 2010, game day moved again from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday evening between 6 and 10. But two out of three players came directly from work and were accordingly tired. They got there around 6:20, we chatted until 7, played from 7:15 to 9:20, and then someone already talked about “wrapping up”. Adventures progressed very, very slowly.

   Why is that exactly? Role-playing games aren’t “important” enough to set aside an entire Saturday afternoon / evening once every two months? Is it a question of priorities? What are your priorities? Watching the game with your buddies? Going to see a show? Salsa lessons with the wife? Dinner party? These are all very nice things, don’t get me wrong. All I am saying is this: if you’re only free for an evening of RPG fun when there is no big game on TV and no hot show downtown and no salsa lessons and no dinner party – then you lost the right to say you’re a tabletop gamer. Because you’re just a gamer when there is no other option in front of you. It’s like me and soccer. I went to see a match, once, because I had absolutely nothing else to do and someone invited me over and it was a nice July evening and tickets were only 17 bucks. But I cannot say with a straight face: “I am a soccer fan.”

   It’s also a little disrespectful to the hobby itself – Wednesday evenings between 6 and 10, really? Is that the best we can do? Other hobbies are treated with much more respect; poker, hiking, chess, golf, even scrapbooking: they all seem to deserve nice fat juicy Saturdays...

   If gaming is not in your top three slots for any Saturday evening, then you are not a gamer, you are someone who sits down on occasions to take part in some random gaming event, but that’s it – and it is not the same, sorry. Going to one soccer game in July and owning a season pass are two completely different things.

1        Dinner party with the gang
2        Gaming
3        TV night with two friends
   [That’s a gamer all right.]

1        Salsa lessons with the wife
2        Big game on TV
3        Gaming
   [That’s also a gamer.]

1        Salsa lessons with the wife
2        Dinner party with the gang
3        Going to see a show
4        Big game on TV
5        Barbecue with the in-laws
6        Lazy PS4 night + beer + chips
7        Gaming
   [That’s NOT a gamer.]

   Not being a gamer is no problem. You may be the coolest guy ever. Just stop pretending to be a gamer. It’s not a permanent status. You used to play D&D twice a week when you were seventeen? You were a gamer. Past tense.

   Sorry if I bursted your bubble, man.


Movie Franchise RPG vs TV Show RPG

   As I said in a previous post titled “Logical Illogical”, there was no story continuity when I used to play my Greyhawk ranger, back in the day. But now, it’s all about time-scheme and filling in whatever blanks there may be. So I’m already writing what the PCs did after the end of our last AD&D, because I know they’re gonna ask about this at the beginning of the next session.

   Why is that?

   In my opinion, it is the cultural influence of TV shows: we now know much more about our favorite characters than we did back in the heyday of movie heroes. Really, nobody knew what 007 did between the end of Casino Royale and the beginning of Dr. No, or between Octopussy and A View to a Kill. Movie franchises are very much like the old school modules. We play Dwellers of the Forbidden City. Next we tackle White Plume Mountain. What did we do in between? Nothing?

   Those Silver Age games introduced continuity in RPG campaigns – is it good, or is it bad? I don’t know, but it’s very similar to modern TV shows with their tight plots, web episodes, flash forwards / backwards / sideways, and interlocking season premieres and finales. Sooner or later we learn everything there is to learn about the heroes: blanks get filled in quickly, and it makes a lot of sense... except with Lost.

   So, players come to expect that.

   You can’t pluck them from a tropical island one week and throw them onto a snowy mountainside the next week without any explanation, like in a James Bond movie. Damn, our HBO era is not like the old MGM era: there is a heck of a lot more stuff to write and prepare, now!


Irem Talabheim Damascus

   I could flood this blog with hundreds of maps I’ve created over the years, but let’s just post the best of them all. This city map demanded a LOT of work – and it served me well in three different campaigns since 2003. First, it was the medieval town of Damascus in the year 630 A.D. Next, it served as my own version of Talabheim, in Warhammer. And last but not least, it became the dreaded desert city of Irem circa 1845, for my game of Cthulhu Gypsies. Lots of weird stuff happened in lots of those little houses and back alleys...


The Desperate Housewives One Page Dungeon

   Two summers ago I was in an exceptionally good mood, one of my friends was visiting from England, my other friends seemed to be in a great mood too, and I just wanted to throw a crazy one-shot game, so I just put in 5 to 6 hours of work and whipped together a Desperate Housewives intrigue. Yes, you read that right. I printed the map of Wisteria Lane available online, and nice pics of Bree, Suzan, Lynette, and Gaby, created their character records and skills (Bree is better with pills, Gaby has a sweet +25% when shopping, etc), and created a bunch of silly NPCs like the creepy mailman, the thieving nanny, the split personality insurance broker / serial killer, and so on.

 “Suzan attempts a Fast-Talk: she needs 30 to succeed, rolls 37.
Bree makes her Saving Throw vs Bullshit, and fails.”

   It would have been lots of fun... but my friends had other things planned every day for the entire summer. So that’s that.

   Desperate Housewives wasn’t the best TV show in the history of TV shows, but it was the only one my mom watched, and whenever I saw her we could laugh and talk about Suzan’s insane shenanigans or Lynette’s latest faux pas. It was great. Now that the Housewives are history, my mom watches Castle, which is cool too – but quite noticeably less silly.

   Still, looking at those character sheets and maps from two years ago, I can’t help but to think it would make an awesome one page dungeon!