Friday, October 2, 2009

Blast From The Past

No, I am not talking about Dio again.
Last Friday I didn’t get to blog (or write!) as much as I would have liked because I hung out with my old buddy Rob. Rob and I first met in preschool at the age of 4 and we went to the same Catholic grade school till 8th grade before going our separate ways in high school. We saw each other a little during those years, and after college we had a brief music collaboration (I’ve sang with/for a half dozen or eight bands over the years…hey, Seattle, remember?) in a little rock outfit I like to describe as Gothic-Funk. I don’t remember if it had a name, we never got through more than a few jam sessions before the drummer got married (or something similar) and the keyboardist went off to grad school or some such.
Anyway, Rob joined a monastery (I like to say he became a priest, but he really was only a “Brother” of the Dominican order), and Friday was only the second time I’d seen him since 1997 or so. Ah, Facebook…so nice for re-connecting...
Rob is no longer with the Dominicans…he’s kind of on a temporary, self-imposed exile from the Church while he gets his head on straight. Trying out life in the “real world” so to speak (though still under vows) while he decides whether he truly is called to the ministry. I mean, he’s certain he’s called to a spiritual life, but perhaps not as a monk.
So we had a beer (and a whiskey) over lunch and talked about things and what’s been going on, and I revealed all about my newly re-claimed interest in RPGs and blogging, etc.. and he is totally down! Which is to say, supportive and encouraging.
Not to mention, more than a little interested in doing some play-testing and/or Old School gaming.
Totally cool…another adult that wouldn’t mind getting together (except these days I’m better at setting up Social Contract…ha!). Rob was never much of a D&D player…coming from a family of deeper religious fervor than my own (did I mention the priest thing?) I think he and his parents were smart enough not to take the whole "D&D is the Devil" -thing too seriously, but wary enough not to touch it themselves with the proverbial ten foot pole.
Though he did play on occasion…generally with horrific (for his character) results.
See, there is nothing "gamist" about Rob. Wait, let me back-up a moment. While he was not much of a D&D player, there were plenty of games he and I DID play. Old School (original black book) Traveller, which he owned. Star Wars D6 (which I owned). The James Bond RPG (which his FATHER owned, being a Bond aficionado). And war games too, including the original Starship Troopers, and Axis & Allies. I’m sure there were others I’m forgetting, too.
In fact, I am pretty sure that Rob is responsible for my introduction to West End Games in general, and one of the folks responsible for me not being totally TSR-centric (the other would be my buddy Scott, whose love of FASA games like BattleTech and Shadow Run also helped me “break the mold”). For that, I salute the guy heartily.
Now back to what I was saying…there’s nothing gamist about Rob. I told him about my reading and research into RPGs and gaming over the last few years, including a lot of the theory-hammer stuff from over at the Forge, and Rob was immediately intrigued. He himself always had a difficulty with the “traditional” game-play of many games (ESPECIALLY D&D). We both agree the guy’s creative agenda is of the narratavist variety, perhaps with a little "sim" thrown in for flavor. But this makes perfect sense.
After all, Rob was always interested in telling stories. He is/was a writer (of the creative variety) from a young age, using his paper route money to buy a typewriter for himself early on so he could work on short stories. In high school he submitted regularly to publications and writing contests, and (I believe) the need for telling a good story led to him having (in RPG game play) a distinct “um, I really don’t know what to do here” paralysis. If you see the POTENTIAL of RPGs to tell “collaborative stories” but the rest of your party is simply trying to overcome an obstacle, whatcha’ going to do? Well, in practice, you usually become the fodder/distraction/human sacrifice the rest of the group needs.
The idea of playing a game that actually addresses premise (a la Sorcerer) or that rolls dice to determine success of a goal rather than a task (a la Maelstrom) was a mind-opening idea to ol’ Rob. It got him a little excited.
Of course, Rob is a geezer like me (he turns 35 this month) so his mind of course wanders to the “good old games” of yesteryear. “You know what I wouldn’t mind playing sometime?” he asks. “Traveller. I really thought that was a great game with a lot of potential.”
So I quickly whipped out my copy of Mongoose’s new edition of Traveller. “It’s much like the original version we played as kids, except you’re not nearly as likely to die during character creation.” Rob thought THAT was a novel innovation in and of itself. We may have to re-boot Fromo’s Freebooter and set sail across the warp waves sometime in the near future. I mean, Rob is still writing after all…maybe a little freeform RPG play will provide him with some good fodder for HIS new blog.
On the other hand, maybe we’ll be doing other things together. Rob just bought a new base guitar deciding he wanted to get back into music again while he’s outside the quiet confines of the monastery. Maybe I need to go get a new mike and PA.
Rock! ; )


  1. but wary enough not to touch it themselves with the proverbial ten foot pole. This is the height of wisdom. Smart people.

    Bass guitar and vocals would be interesting. Bass is the most spiritual of instruments, IMHO.

  2. Well, of COURSE we'd try to find a couple more instruments...his ex-girlfriend plays keyboards and her new husband is a guitarist (I think)...