Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Fortunately, the 21st century affords us multiple ways to roleplay, one of which is through the magic of the Internet, specifically Google+. I gave G+ gaming a whirl for the first time during the Dwimmermont Kickstarter and I enjoyed it a lot -- so much so that I've been doing it ever since, often as a player. The Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game I'm playing in each week is run via Google+ and it's been a blast. I haven't this much fun playing any RPG in a long time and I look forward to each new session. It's also taught me, I think, that there's not a whole lot of difference between gaming face to face and gaming via video chat. There are differences, of course, but, so far, they're just that, differences, rather than things I'd call better or worse than playing in the traditional way.
I bring this up because, in addition to playing, I've also been refereeing on Google+. I run two campaigns, one set in my Dwimmermount megadungeon and one in M.A.R. Barker's world of Tékumel. Until now, I'd been a little hesitant to talk about these campaigns, because I wasn't sure they'd "take," which is to say, I wasn't sure they'd last. I know enough people are already skeptical of the idea of gaming via video chat as it is that I didn't want to add more fuel for that fire. But things have gone well enough in both campaigns that I'm quite confident that they're going to last. Consequently, I'm going to start sharing the goings-on in these campaigns via session write-ups, like I used to do with my original Dwimmermount campaign. If my players agree, I might even post a video transcript of one or more of our sessions for others to see.
I won't begin regaling you with session details just yet; I'll save that for another post. Instead, I wanted to talk briefly about my Tékumel game, which is using the Empire of the Petal Throne rules published in 1975. I've run a Tékumel game before, back in the mid-90s, but that was using a different rules set (Gardásiyal, if anyone care) and I had a somewhat different mindset toward the setting. For that reason, I was more than a little nervous about starting a new campaign. I was out of practice, had never used EPT before, and was taking on a large number of players, almost all of whom were Tékumel neophytes. What was I thinking?
I was thinking two things, actually. First, I wanted to honor the memory of the recently deceased Professor Barker. I have become ever more convinced that the man was an unheralded genius of our hobby, a founding father deserving of accolades to rival those of any of the hobby's more widely acknowledged leaders. Second, I wanted to show that, far from being "inaccessible" or "too weird," Tékumel isn't any more difficult to get into than Dungeons & Dragons, despite all the unfamiliar names. This is a topic about which Victor Raymond has written at some length elsewhere, but I felt it was time to put my money where my mouth was and that meant running a game for a bunch of people for whom Tsolyáni was not a second language.
You know what? It's succeeded brilliantly, far moreso than I'd ever hoped. Most campaigns in which I've played usually take several sessions before they find their feet. With EPT, it happened almost immediately, much to everyone's pleasure. I opted for the default barbarians-off-the-boat-from-the-southern-continent approach. Thus, there's good reason for the characters to be largely ignorant about the intricacies of Tsolyáni society and culture. This gives me the opportunity to slowly initiate the players -- and myself -- into these complexities bit by bit. No one is expected from the get-go to know much of anything really, which has made our sessions both revelatory and fun. Far from confirming the absurd caricature that the uninformed make about Tékumel gaming, we've shown it for the fraud it is.
So, in the days and weeks to come, expect both session recaps and new gaming material spawned by these two campaigns. I've missed being able to write posts of those sorts; to me, they're the fruits of what this hobby is all about: playing.