Twenty years ago, more or less, I played a thief character in a role-playing game called Dungeons & Dragons Basic.
It was my first such game, and I was still unsure about pretending to be someone else, with statistics, in a fantasy world. The only thing I knew for sure was, I love fantasy!
My friend Freda was the game master, and between the two of us, she put my thief character through a simple adventure I can no longer remember. We were armed with nothing but sheets of paper, pencils and erasers, dice…and our imaginations.
The two things that stuck from that first game was:
1) My char’s life points were so low a single hit from an enemy could kill me.
2) The memory of my thief stepping on a log to cross a river, only for this ‘log’ to actually be a crocodile chomping for my leg!
It’s an old chestnut now, this classic trap. But ahh, those were wild and exciting days, this idea that I could explore imaginary worlds and take on the role of a character who wasn’t this shy, introverted, damaged girl.
For reasons that remain unclear to me, Freda wandered away, and I was desperate to play it again. I played gamebooks, highly enjoyable solo adventures but it wasn’t the same. I needed people. I need…a party of fellow adventurers.
Trouble was, I was in Malaysia. And NO ONE knew what this Ar-Pee-Gee thing was. I resorted, then, to desperate measures: I recruited family members.
Actually, ‘recruited’ is too mild a word. I shanghaied them. Cajoled. Poked and bullied my mystified brother and cousins into a room where somehow we sat down with a minimum of chaos and played. I wanted to be a player instead of the storyteller, but I had no choice. I had to be the gamemaster. I had the rules, and it was me who ran the show.
Little did I know it, but that was my first exposure to public speaking. I remember stammering, nervous shuffling through sheets of paper, my voice quavering while desperately describing scenarios that would hold the interest of arguably one of the toughest audiences of all.
We had some fun times, I recall, with my finest moment involving a monstrous cyclops and a mirror and my brother and cousins resorting to hilarious ways of bringing it down. I smile at the memory, but I still wanted someone else to run the show.
My Latest Adventure
Some would say I’m now on the greatest adventure of all – having given up a cushy job to fly halfway across the world to this exotic land of Scotland. I’m dirt poor, but exceedingly happy. For one thing, I’ve found a new gaming group, and good friends to play with.
The game is Anima, an anime-inspired RPG. I play yet another thief character named Sevren Gale, who has some minor, ahem, people issues and is somewhat attached to his crow companion, Kai.
Its been ages since I played with a group, and it shows. And I’m no longer quite the girl I was before. Each time I play, however, I get practice expressing myself in a storytelling format. And really, anything that can make you do that, and open your mind to worlds of wonder and possibility, doesn’t deserve the label of a mere game for “children or geeks”.
(I am, however, unashamedly geek).
For those interested, here’s a brief extract from a session report:
As usual, he lets Ya’el do the talking while Sevren sits, trying to decide if it was worth making off with the silverware. Their employer – ugh, what was his name? Sevren decides to call him Lord High and Mighty – was telling them about how his daughter had been kidnapped. Just when Sevren’s thinking this was going to be a rescue mission, Lord High and Mighty adds his daughter was returned unharmed after he’d paid her ransom.
“But,” LHM says, seething, “I want those bastards who kidnapped her to pay. Honour must be satisfied!”
That’s when Sevren looks up from scratching Kai’s feathers. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me the kidnappers gave her back, alive, and you want us to go after them? You already paid them. They fulfilled their part of the bargain.”
LHM booms something about justice and honour and all that shlock, and Sevren has to pull Ya’el to one side.
“Something is not right here,” Sevren hisses to her. “What is a nobleman of his rank doing recruiting for people in a seedy tavern? He has people to do that sort of thing for him. The guild of fighters, for instance. Something is fishy here.”
Ya’el argues with him (she seems to want to do this stupid job for some reason) and Sevren argues right back. In the end, the thief agrees to go along with LHM’s revenge mission. Mostly because enough money was offered for it to go right into Sevren’s head.
The next thing he knew, LHM was taking about some Orin Doom person who led the group of bandits that kidnapped the girl. Sevren definitely got the idea that two people were not going to take on that band in their fortress.
“We need to outsource,” Ya’el says to him.
LHM next jabbers about something interesting. An air ship known as a Zeppelin was going to make its maiden voyage from Holdfast to Daal, where from there their merry band could make their way to the bandits’ hideout.
“I will get you passage on that voyage,” the lord says.
Sevren sighs happily. Kai would like that.
NaNoWriMo Word Count
33828 / 50000 words. 68% done!
To recap: my mission this month of November – to do NaNoWriMo by day, my other Malaysian novel by night, and blog about something vaguely interesting every day of November. So far I am surviving!