Sunday, November 15, 2015

Autumnal Gaming Nostalgia Rant



While I was out running earlier this evening I couldn't help but think about gaming.  The temperature seemed right, and the leaves were falling.  That cool, brisk breeze required me to wear several layers and my hands were chilled.  The first thing I wanted when I got home was a warm tea, rather than a cool glass of water.  

I know… right now you are saying:

"Well Jim, aren't you always thinking about gaming?  Also, what does the temperature or the leaves have to do with this topic?"

Okay, hypothetical questioning reader, perhaps you are right, but let me continue.

While the autumn season may have that ancient link to the end of summer, and in turn the end of harvest, for me fall always reminds me of beginnings.  Since its still warm in August and early September, I don't quite include the traditional "back to school" season with these happy memories, although there is a connection.  

The chilly air and early setting sun often reminds me of starting new role-playing campaigns… probably because I used to kick off my annual campaigns between October and November.  Growing up, and then later in college, those early weeks of school would be spent scouting and recruiting new players.  There was always some kind of turnover going on at my table.  Sometimes friends would bow out after growing tired of Dungeons & Dragons, while others would graduate and move away.  

I'll always remember that particularly difficult year when I transitioned from junior high to high school.  Between the 9th and 10th grade, half of my closest friends departed the RPG world over the course of summer.  

I think they were smitten with band camp, and I was just an instrument-less choir nerd.

But fast forward to November and I was forming off my first Dark Sun campaign, with so many players that I had to split into two separate groups!  I can still remember hanging the Dark Sun pictures on the wall of my room with the window open.  The cool air played games with my imagination as I struggled to conjure images of a hot and dying planet.  

As I ran today I couldn't stop the flood of memories… 

  • Starting Planescape as a senior in October 1997, knowing full well that it would be the last campaign before leaving high school behind.
  • Finally finding players for an Alternity campaign in 2001 after moving to Pittsburgh.  From this group I would make two lifelong friends, Frank and Craig, with whom I still play, fourteen years later.   
  • The start of our Ravenscape campaign in the Fall of 2009, a weekly online D&D 4E game that would last for three years and run from 1st to 30th level.  I was in the middle of getting my MBA and busier than ever, but once a week I had that one special evening with friends.  It was practically the only socializing I would do for nearly two years.  
  • Running our first role-playing game, Numenera, with the Norwin Game Knights back in November of 2013.  This would be the first RPG for most of the participants at the table, as well as my first experience in the Ninth World.

These moments remind me of who I am, and where I've been in worlds both real and make believe.  I have a few more weeks to make this fall a special, gaming-filled season to remember for years to come, but soon enough the season will come to a close.  Of course that will just bring on a whole new wave of memories and emotions linked to winter and snow and hot chocolate and the like.  But of course, these will just be different reminders of games and friends past.

How lucky we all are to be involved in this tabletop hobby!