Gameplaywright has published a book called THE BONES: Us And Our Dice, a collection of articles and essays celebrating those funny-shaped randomizers that every gamer just absolutely seems to love. To celebrate the publication, I suggested to Gameplaywright’s Jeff Tidball and Will Hindmarch that they hold a blog carnival on the topic of dice; after all, it’s a universal topic among gamers, whether wargamers or roleplayers (and even some card gamers as well), so gaming bloggers should certainly have their own stories to tell. They liked the idea and launched the carnival in early June and here I am, on the very last day of the month, and I have yet to add my own post. Tsk, tsk. Let’s fix that now, shall we?
The Gift of Dice
As pretty much any male gamer out there, I wanted a gamer girlfriend. I was totally into games; beyond school, it was about all I thought about, and when I thought about girls, I wanted one at my side with whom I could share this awesome hobby. Alas, awkward teen I was, getting a girlfriend was hard enough as it was, let alone a gamer one (especially in Puerto Rico, where the gaming scene was tiny at the time). I just didn’t know any gals who gamed, though a couple of friends from the local game shop had these mythical women at their side, so I knew it was possible.
Fast forward to college, where by divine intervention I now had a girlfriend. She wasn’t a gamer, but she’d lived in the US for a while and had heard of Dungeons & Dragons once or twice, so I had an in. Once I was sure she wasn’t going to run away the moment I whipped out my books, I revealed the full extent of my geekness and brought games into the equation. She found them interesting enough to give it a try, so during our year-and-a-half together we ended up playing two fairly lengthy campaigns, Star Wars (West End Games) and Cyberpunk 2020. I loved the fact that she gamed with me, and I thought she liked it well enough as well, so in between our two campaigns, I one day said to her, “I should get you your own set of dice.”
“Nah, there’s no need. I’ll just use yours.” I won’t lie, I felt deflated, both because my gift had been turned down, but also because my gift of dice had been turned down. Even though we went on to play another couple-months-long campaign after this exchange, I knew this whole gaming thing was soon to be done with. And it was; after the Cyberpunk 2020 game, she didn’t want to join any other game the group proposed. There was something about that denial of the dice that told me she was not interested in sharing that one part of who I was. Later on this would come up in conversation, and to her it had barely been worthy of remembering. Me? This was seventeen years ago and I still remember.
So what’s the big deal about her not accepting the gift of dice? It isn’t so much about not accepting the gift per se; I had the chance to give her many other gifts to express my affection. It’s the fact that dice represent the most tangible and accessible part of my love for this hobby, and in giving them, I was giving a part of myself. I can give a book, but the book, to a non-gamer, can be a threatening thing, especially the games I mentioned above, both of which are 200+ pages of esoteric rules. But dice? They’re safe, shinny, sparkly. You can treasure them as little keepsakes, roll them for the sheer fun of seeing what number comes up, enjoy their geometrical cuteness. They also hold the promise of the game that may be. In not accepting them, the message I got was, “This is of no further interest to me beyond my relationship with you.”
It is entirely possible (read: 100% possible) that I over-reacted, even if my external reaction was simple, “Ok.” But I was 18, so gimme a break.
Fast forward again about three years. I was living in Miami now and I had a new girlfriend, another non-gamer. She has seen my ample collection of game books and finds them a charming aspect of me. She’s looked through them here and there but simply does not have any interest in trying them out. Until she comes across Vampire: The Masquerade. That called her attention.
After a few conversations where I explained to her the concept of the game, she actually acceded to trying it out, so I put together a game with her and one other of our friends: just two players, all three of us good and trusting friends. It was a hit! She really dug the game, loved her character, and completely got into the shared experience of making a story. And I was as happy as a gamer can be.
After a few sessions I decided to try my hand at the gift of dice once more. The previous experience was still fresh in my mind, but I go on with the idea, for I am both a hopeless romantic and a masochist. This time, however, I did not ask if she wanted her own dice, I simply went to work (I was living the dream, working in a game store at the time), ordered a very special set of dice, and when they came in a few days later, took them home and presented them to her before our next game session.
I got her the special set of Vampire: The Masquerade dice made by White Wolf: ten 10-sided dice in the same green marble color as the core rulebook along with a green dice bag bearing the ankh icon. She loved them. And I was the happiest gamer ever. My girlfriend accepted my gift of dice, and in doing so, to me, she accepted my love of gaming as an integral part of who I was.
She went on to use them all throughout our long chronicle; when we gamed, and my gamer friends pulled out their dice, she would proudly whip her own set out. Even if she did not identify herself as a gamer, she was part of the tribe now. When we later played Changeling: The Dreaming, I also got her the set White Wolf sold for that game. Another gift of dice that was gladly and happily accepted.
It’s been a few years since those chronicles ended and we have not played any other roleplaying games since. That is entirely my own fault, and it’s one of the thing I want to remedy this year, to the point that I made it one of my own Gaming New Year Resolutions. She is now my wife, still not a gamer as I am, but she has her dice, her own set of dice which no one can use, no one can touch. I did not end up with a gamer girlfriend/wife, but I did end up with a wonderful woman who accepted my gift of dice, and thus accepted the gamer that I am.
|Note: I am writing this report about six months after it happened. I did record the last two sessions of play and have listened to them again in order to put this together.|
I indeed had to return to Puerto Rico in June, so my friends and I decided to do our best to finish this game in the time I had. When we got together to play, we decided to wrap up the series in two sessions to be played over the two weeks I had available. That meant condensing four episodes into two action-packed extravaganzas. I merged the Screen Presences for episodes 2-3 and 4-5, giving us two final episodes that looked like this: 2/3/2/2 & 3/2/3/3. If you have played PTA you can see how that second merged episode is totally nuts; if you haven’t, the first spread is fine, with one spotlight character (3), but the second has three spotlight characters, meaning each of them is THE main focus of the episode, if that makes any sense. I knew that this would be tricky, to say the least, but we girded our loins and plunged back into the story.
After playing the first regular episode for about 2 1/2 hours, and knowing I would be flying back to Miami in a few days, everyone agreed to push ahead and play another episode, even though it was just shy of Midnight. A bathroom break later, we sat down to play. This episode was the Enforcer’s character spotlight episode.
Season 1, Webisode
I dove right into the thick of things, riding on the momentum of the previous episode, and used the Archivist’s Next Time On scene to open. As he looked out the observation deck of his Death Star, a contingent of Storm Troopers surrounded him, while one of his officers asked him to please not make this difficult. Because of the time they had served the Sith Lord, the officer was willing to let him go if he did it in the next 5 seconds. The Archivist pondered for a moment, and as he was about to accept the offer, one of the Storm Troopers started to count. Big mistake. The Archivist called a conflict to deal with these traitorous scum; he won, easily (I didn’t provide much opposition either, just enough to get some Fan Mail on the table), leading to his Next Time On moment as he Force-choked the officer whom he had give explicit orders to not be disturbed. The deed done, and knowing he had just signed his own warrant, the Archivist engaged the Death Star’s auto-destruct, though not before using the station’s laser to obliterate the cloning facility on the planet below, along with a good chunk of the planet itself.
Read the reports for the Pilot.
On Wednesday 4/28 we got together to play the first episode of the regular series of Star Wars: The Sith Triumvirate Primetime Adventures game.The players were actually quite pumped for this, especially given it would be the one opportunity for us to play before my return to Miami later in the week.
Before the game, one of the players in Braulio’s regular Star Wars RPG game showed up to check out the game, urged by Braulio. It gave us a chance to use something I did not remember reading in the book and which I cannot recall ever reading about in any PTA Actual Play: we had an Audience. This player, who at first was like, “PTA sounds kinda dumb,” read the blog post I made on the Pilot and changed to a resounding, “PTA sounds cool.” Later on, another friend of the game group showed up and became part of the Audience as well.
In addition to the Audience, we also added a new protagonist to the group. The player made a Mandalorian Bounty Hunter whose issue deals with his quest to become a new Mandalore. The Bounty Hunter has some connection to House Fett (though he’s not a member of it), quite specifically, a Contact who’s a direct descendant of Boba Fett.
I got some heat from one of my players because (and he’s absolutely right) I forgot to include some other scenes from the Pilot in my report, perhaps undercutting the contribution of the Enforcer and Archivist, so this time I took notes of the scenes we played during each round (having left behind, again, my digital recorder, great podcaster that I am).
I warn you, it is long.
Last Wednesday (4/22) night, I went to hang out with my friend Braulio (whom some may have heard in the recent Kobe, Japan episode of The Gamer Traveler Podcast) at a local game store. That night he would be running his ongoing Star Wars RPG game and the idea was for me to go and play an NPC for the night, just to have some fun and have a chance to clear my head after many days spent in the hospital with Mom.
We got there around 6 pm, because the group had agreed to try to start earlier than the usual 8 pm starting time. While we waited, we played the Star Wars Miniatures Game, my first time playing it (I played the Rebellion and I lost). During the course of the game, two of his players arrived, and then they played a round of the minis game. By 9:30 pm it was clear that the other two players we were expecting were not going to arrive, so instead of not roleplaying at all, I suggested, “Hey, we can play Primetime Adventures!”
I gave Braulio my copy of PTA when I came to PR in Feb, so he had already read the book and was itching to play it. Mind you, we didn’t have the book with us, so we’d be going based on my play experience and what Braulio could remember. I explained the premise of PTA to one of the players and he was enthused, but the other one wasn’t too keen (he associated my mention of “story/narrative-driven” with Vampire/World of Darkness, and he apparently had some bad experiences with some WoD players once). I told him, let’s do the pitch session; if we’re not all fully into it, invested into the idea, we don’t play. He agreed to that.
Since we were on a Star Wars mindset already due to their regular game and the minis game we all played, I had the idea of pitching the same setting I’ve played for the last two years at Gen Con (and which I hope to be able to continue later this year): Star Wars Episode LV (55). Basically, it’s a thousand years after Return of the Jedi, a time when House Skywalker has become Sith and established itself as rulers over the galaxy, where Coruscant is orbited by six Death Stars, when there are the stirrings of a new Rebellion to bring down the Skywalkers once and for all. They bought in, adding they wanted to play characters that were, instead of members of the fledgling Rebellion, part of the Sith side, and explore themes of vengeance and redemption.
While reading through Twitter this afternoon, I caught an exchange dealing with Primetime Adventures. One guy mentioned our Star Wars PTA game podcasted through Canon Puncture and I chimed in with a thanks. He had this to say:
<p><a href=”http://tweetpaste.thingamaweb.com/embed/14826/” mce_href=”http://tweetpaste.thingamaweb.com/embed/14826/” target=”_blank”>View exedore6’s tweet</a></p> <p>
I am of course humbled by this, but it also makes me feel good. That game is a great one, and it’s awesome that others are enjoying it as much as we are.
My wife had been preparing a surprise birthday party for me for a couple of weeks, and though I knew the party was coming, I was left in the dark about the theme. I had my suspicions, but I decided not to give it any thought, so I would be surprised when the time came. Indeed, Saturday night rolled around and when I got home from synagogue, I had been right in my suspicion: it was a Star Wars themed party.
I had to help put up stuff, like the Darth Vader piñata, and get the music playing. My wife made a playlist of a bunch of Star Wars music, including pieces from the soundtrack to all six movies (including the Yub Nub song!), and homages, like Metallica’s Imperial March and Rage Against the Machine’s Imperial March, and spoofs, such as Weird Al Yankovic’s Yoda and The Saga Begins, plus some cool stuff like a French techno mashup of Thriller called When I Was a Child I Was a Jedi/The Jedi Dance. We also had the original, low-budget, no-CGI trilogy playing on the laptops, and LEGO Star Wars and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed playing on the Wii. Oh yeah, my wife also made a drink she dubbed the Dagobah Punch that, well, lived up to its name.
I had a lot of fun, as is evident by the photos. The only bummer is that my buddy Josh couldn’t come because his little girl was sick (though she’s fine now), which made me realize quite accutely that I need more guy friends. It also would have been awesome if my friends from the Star Wars Primetime Adventures game at Gen Con had been there, but given they live all across the US, it would have been a bit difficult. That’s what happens when most of your friends are online.
The birthday loot was awesome as well: My wife got me the Wii Fit, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (at which my wife naturally excels and can kick anyone’s butt in a Jedi duel), a deluxe toy Darth Vader lightsaber, Star Wars Risk and a new back rack for my bike. From my generous guests I got a nice bottle of Italian wine, a Star Wars book of (really friggin hard) trivia, as well as some cash (which went towards buying materials for my sukkah, but see my next post for that story).
Kudos go to my wife for an awesome birthday party, way above and beyond anything I imagined or deserved. It was a great way to welcome my 34th birthday.
Back at Gen Con, I was part of a Star Wars Episode LV, a Primetime Adventures game run by Judd Karlman (Sons of Kryos Podcast) and starring Paul Tevis (Have Games, Will Travel Podcast), Rich Rogers (CanonPuncture Podcast), Mick Bradley (The Game That May Be Podcast) and myself.
Set 1,000 years after Return of the Jedi, the Republic has now become as corrupt as the old Empire, and the dynasty of Skywalker rules with an iron fist from Coruscant, confident in the security the six orbiting Death Stars provide it. But there is hope, two ancient droids carrying information that can topple the corrupt republic.
I played a jaded, reckless and tired Jedi who is simply just tired of running from the Republic. He has learned that he is a descendant of Anakin Solo, son of the legendary Han Solo and Leia Skywalker, which makes him a Skywalker as well, and a blood relative of the despots running the galaxy. Taking the new name Obi Wan Skywalker in remembrance of a time when the name Skywalker stood for good and when Jedis were the guardians of justice, he has decided to take on the Galactic Republic headfirst.