Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas, Markets, Realizations, and Birds to the World

Somebody found my blog by searching for the phrase, "supplement to make a horse falk come out and fat," on Google. I was #2 in the results. I was #3 in the results for, "holmes d&d." #2 for the same search on the Finnish Google. #1 in the results for, "feces movies," on the Turkish Google (really!). #1 on a Yahoo search for, "Mythmere's OD&D Primer."

Weird.

So it's Christmas. Has been for 38 minutes as I type this sentence. But in Finland, they do all the Christmas stuff (big dinner, family gathering, opening presents) on Christmas Eve, so the Big Day is already past. I've spent the past three Christmases in three different towns with three different families, and this past day has been the most comfortable of the three (the 23,000€ stereo and six cats I got to be around in Töysä last year notwithstanding), so that was nice. Later today/tomorrow/after sleeping I get to make the full American-style Christmas dinner I promised I would make. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the works.

Problem is, I have no clue what I'm doing. My idea of cooking is putting the fish sticks in the oven for 20 minutes. But I can make my own bread, so that must count for something. Now I have a turkey to cook (I was forced to watch that hag Nigella's show on preparing a turkey... ay ay ay), my Stove Top stuffing didn't arrive in time from the US (nor did the cook book I'm getting for Maria) so I have to do that from scratch... and mashed potatoes? I should have thought this through. I have never even peeled a potato before this past Tuesday.

So that's Christmas for me. And, ah, this is supposed to be a role-playing blog, isn't it? Right.

In between all that I'm preparing for The Olden Domain campaign. I still need to put together the final rules document (I've determined everything I want to use, but I still have to put it together in a booklet I can give to the players), finish the flyer, and finish the design of the starting hexes for the players map and put together the starting rumors so people can decide where they'd like to explore in the first place.

Once that preliminary work is done, I am going to cover this city with flyers. I'll have a first batch of 50 flyers done up, and have them up in every library and grocery store bulletin board in the area. My short-term goal is 20 players (not all regulars, mind you!) within a couple months, and we'll see how it goes from there.

Here's the key though... I realized I'm not really after role-players or gamers with this. Not that I'll refuse them, mind you (although I think I'm going to throttle anyone who talks to me about "elegant designs" or "unified mechanics" or "narrativism" or any other exists-only-online terms), but I have realized that those of us in bloggyland are really different than most modern gamers. It's gone beyond the point where I'm trying to argue that modern games are completely different than the classic games. I'm washing my hands of them and declaring them a completely different hobby altogether.

Why not?

Fuck 'em.

We don't need 'em.

Gary and Dave and company started this hobby from nothing, drawing on the player base of an already existing, but fundamentally different, hobby. They just didn't realize it was that different yet. And it exploded.

We're doing that. Right now.

The way to grow and maintain a hobby isn't commercial products (the things I put out are things that I use in my actual gaming, or that amuse me... and note how my efforts to publicize that which amused me didn't reach beyond this blog or forum signatures). It's not getting product into shops and it's not marketing and it's not blogging and it's not creating gathering places on the internet.

The way to grow and maintain a hobby (this hobby, anyway) is to do that hobby and play with as as many people as you can.

Play. As often as you can stand.

And don't play with just your group. Play with new people. Often. If you care about the hobby as a whole, your friends aren't important. They're already playing with you, right? The system you want to play? No? Then hang out with them and do something else, and pursue gaming with people who will game your style. Have a few stock dungeons (or have your megadungeon ready with a new "undiscovered" entrance to a beginner sublevel that connects into the rest) ready in your folder for pick-up play for when you find one of these people.

Make your own photocopies or printouts of page 2 - 22 of Mentzer's Basic Player's Guide (you know, the How to Play D&D section) and give them to anyone who shows an interest. Yes, I am advocating pirating that section to hell and back. Not comfortable with that? Then someone make a simulacrum of that section, please.

I think I lost my point somewhere along the rant here (blame the people that game me all that chocolate earlier...), but between the discussion in the comments section a few days ago about appealing to "mainstream" gamers and reading threads earlier today on the RPGSite and RPG.net (like this shit here), I realized they might as well all be playing checkers and kickball for all my gaming has in common with their gaming. I'm more interested in getting someone that has no idea what role-playing is all about and putting them in my dungeon and asking, "What do you do now?"

I have come to realize that my goal in writing this blog and participating on a scale greater than just my home game is not to change the world or make my gaming style more influential to the world at large. It is exploration and a desire to find my way in this hobby and then surround myself with artifacts of that way and discard the rest. My attitudes have changed a good deal since I discovered this blog-o-world in April and started participating in May, and I expect them to continue to do so. And as with everything I am interested in, my preferences seem to be the "earliest and most pure" of the thing in question.

And I guess this is also a "reflect on the past year" post, starting the year with no real plans to even be alive by mid-year, and when that time came I ended up moving cities with no plan or real preparation aside from having a place to store my stuff and having someone's floor to crash on (at right around the same time I started the blog!), and now I'm looking at actually having a future where I feel connected to somebody again. I came to Finland because I had the opportunity to live the kind of life that people simply don't get to live. I've succeeded in that, although I was quite wrong about how that was going to play out. But one thing I wrote a few years back seems to live true, so if you'll permit me the conceit of quoting myself from the last printed issue of the LotFP metal zine I managed to put out, two years ago now:

When you have a passion, whether it be a hobby or a career or anything else, do not let anybody ever tell you that it is not important. Do not let any other person decide what should and should not be a priority in your life. Any “normal” person looking at the time and money lost on LotFP would be horrified, and when I tell people that there were points early on that I couldn’t afford to feed myself because of the money I was putting into the magazine, they talk to me like I’m a fool and an idiot. But there are rewards greater than money. There are paths that lives can travel on other than the path that you’re “supposed” to follow. LotFP, and the heavy metal which inspired its creation, has given me everything in my life that has meaning. It is not luck that brings great things, but the will to continue when the sane thing to do is stop.

This past year, role-playing has moved into the primary position in my creative life as a separation from my music collection for six months and a refusal to download has meant that metal just wasn't there. I'm warming that back up, but metal has changed too much and gained too much popularity for me to have a voice in it anymore. But this Old School Renaissance? I have 9 years more experience in RPGs than metal, more ideas in my head, and a city to conquer. Let's light this thing on fire.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have worlds to create and plans to set in motion to bring people to those worlds. The next step in that process is reformatting OD&D spell descriptions so they aren't referring to inches anymore. Let me tell you how thrilling that is.

5 comments:

  1. the hobby started a nose dive with white wolf and the loss of reading (appendix N) as an inspiration to the bobby;

    maybe THIS had something to do with it,

    http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/acksep97.html

    hope I made you smile

    Merry Christmas

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  2. You did. It's funny because it's not a complete farce. ;)

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  3. Bwah hah hah hah hah!

    Those last few paragraphs were the funniest things I've read all week. Keep that pure gold coming!

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  4. Your "problem" is that you frequent forums that have an overly large douche population.

    Wish I could reccommend one that is better, in that regard, but I gave up a year ago.

    If you want intelligent conversation, stick to the blogs :)

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  5. "Make your own photocopies or printouts of page 2 - 22 of Mentzer's Basic Player's Guide... someone make a simulacrum of that section, please."

    It's not Mentzer, and it doesn't give the same step-by-step introduction to the mechanics and OD&D-style world, but I think Greg Stolze's article "How to Play Roleplaying Games" is very good (and free). Have a look and see if it will do the job: http://www.gregstolze.com/downloads.html (at the bottom, or direct link here: http://www.gregstolze.com/HowtoPlay.zip ).

    ReplyDelete