Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where Do The Old Gamers Go?

Apparently they go to Queen Anne.

Just ran into a blast from the past buddy Michael.

Going to school in Seattle, or the U.S., you can't throw a rock without hitting at least two or three Mikes (in Seattle, you also hit two used bookstores and half a dozen coffee shops...maybe a sushi place). To distinguish 'em each had a different name...Mike, Mick, Mikey...many just got called by their last names or some variation thereof (like "Schmidty" for a guy named Schmidt, right?). Michael was always Michael. Just worked better that way.

Michael was the point man for my second wave of role-playing. When I went to a high school and left my old gamer buddies behind (not entirely by my choice please understand), he was one of the new passel of buddies I picked up. Fortunately for me, he was also a gamer.

And a great one. Oh, he was a golden boy, too...very sharp and quick witted, well read, a part of our State champion swim team, and a damn nice guy. But also a heck of a gamer.

Michael, of course, had played D&D growing up, but when I met him in high school he was pretty much playing all Palladium games. Ninjas & Superspies. Robotech Defenders. Heroes Unlimited was a big one. Prior to meeting Michael and his gaming buddies, my only exposure to Palladium had been brief toe dippings into the first edition of TMNT (dammit! heroic animals are cool!). Through him, I was able to enter a wider arena of Siembeda games.

Not that I didn't return the favor. I introduced him to Stormbringer, Vampire the Masquerade, and (Palladium's) Rifts. The guy was a good egg all around, with an open mind and a willingness to try new things. I was a heavy metal head and he was a die-hard Beatles-U2-kind of guy, but he was willing to admit Motley Crue's rendition of Helter Skelter "was pretty good" once I convinced him to listen to it.

Strangely, I never actually played Dungeons and Dragons with Michael. He was in a long running AD&D campaign with our (mutual) friends, twins named Ben and (surprise) Mike. And by long-running, I mean even prior to high school (they'd met in grade school). They played the entire T1-4:Temple of Elemental Evil as well as H1-4 (complete with BattleSystem rules). He ran two characters in the campaign...a wizard called Aristobulus ("Ari") and a paladin or ranger-type guy. The other Mike (Ben's brother) is the guy who'd one day be present at my one experience as a 2nd edition player (he was the ranger, "Keldern"). His character in Michael's game was: a ranger named Keldern. What a maroon.

[Oh...just realized I've mention Michael before when I was talking about Stormbringer. See the earlier post. His farmer was a lot of fun...till he fell off a cliff. And just when he'd started learning sorcery, too.]

Anyway, a good egg. Outside of gaming, we worked together (acting) in several plays, both in high school and college. Often, Michael would seem more ham than craftsman on stage, but this is a guy with very little ear for music that self-taught himself to be a passable singer and piano player starting around the age of 16 or so. He knew his stuff.

Of all my friends from high school and college (we both went to Seattle University, though he studied medieval history and I majored in dramatic arts), Michael was the only guy, other than myself that I considered "Jedi" AND "goody-good." The difference between us, as I once told him, is that I was far more likely to fall to the Dark Side than him.

Welp, it's been 20+ years since we first met and probably close to 15 years since we hung out regularly. He got fairly heavy into on-line "MUD" games towards the end of college and we kind of went separate ways. These days he lives in Queen Anne (a neighborhood just outside of downtown Seattle), I believe he's been unemployed for a few years (my understanding is he's well-set financially) and picks up a lot of girls on Craigs List. Oh, and he's been losing hair faster than me.

But at least he's not fat.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I wonder what he does with his time. He told me he can't drink beer anymore (and he was quite the connoisseur in the past...his late father brewed his own). Still, he does still enjoy cocktails, though he prefers vodka to my favorite, gin.

Probably he's a level 80+ paladin on the World of Warcraft. I really couldn't bring myself to ask if he still gamed.

Plus, I was out walking the beagles with my wife, and he was on a date with some young thang (he didn't bother introducing her...jeez, man!), that he left hanging while we chatted. I elicited a pseudo-promise that we would TOTALLY hang out wife travels a lot for business, and there's no reason not to show him the new house, or at least go out for drinks.

I really, REALLY hope we do. If at all possible, I'd love to run a game or two with the guy. Not just intelligent and quick on the uptake, but clever and funny, he brought some real pathos to our Vampire saga at times...really, the only guy willing to take it far at all. If I could put together a gaming "dream team" he'd be on it...along with my old friend Jocelyn.

Unfortunately, she's living in Eastern Washington these days.

Yeah, Michael. Shit. A total blast from the past. We're even "friends" on facebook, but neither one of us ever checks into that garbage. Man. What a guy. He really helped me survive what otherwise would have been a complete drought of gaming in high school. It kept me friggin' sane.

Seattle really is a small town. A small town but one where it's too damn easy to disappear into your own respective 'hood.

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