Monday, August 8, 2016

Keeping Count

Hah.  I must be the only fellow on the internet that can slag off Batman without stirring up a hornet's nest.  I feel blessed.

I am thinking a great deal about writing of late, being somewhat obsessed.  I want to keep the blog going, want to put out something that says I'm not dead but alive (particularly where it seems every D&D blog is on the edge of dying) and to offer reassurance that I'm holding up my end of the social contact where it comes to finishing my book.

Towards that end, it is hard to write of anything BUT writing; but of course, this is a D&D blog and people come here expecting to read something about D&D.

It has been nearly 37 years for me; of playing, of designing, of coming up with ideas and adventures, of making my own world and tweaking a thousand and one rules.  Sometimes I can lean back and just contemplate the enormity of it.  As Macbeth talks of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, I can just as easily talk about yesterday and yesterday and yesterday.

Yet I don't, much.  Long time readers of the blog will note that I don't tell a lot of war stories.  For the hell of it, however, I thought I might talk about the people I've played with.

My first D&D group, where I was a player, consisted of Shane, Kevin, Mike and Calvin.  We played the white box set.  I don't remember much about Mike; Kevin had been a friend of mine since grade one and Shane the DM was obsessed with doors.  Of the four, the one I liked best was Calvin; he had a great sense of humour, was enormously friendly and easy to like.  We were friends for ten years before he got out of university and headed off for Vancouver.

I fell in with a group of much older folks, where Bill ran a version of Empire of the Petal Throne.  I remember that Steve was also in that group, and three others whose names are lost to eternity.  Bill was married with two children, and about ten years older.  He had known Gygax personally in Chicago during his university years (I knew Bill in 1980).  I played with that group about six months before it broke up, mostly because of Bill's spiraling family life.  I would meet Bill again many years later, at a parent-teacher conference, where it turned out he was my daughter's teacher.

I got together a group of my own from school as I started to DM myself: Jim, Jerry, Asif, John and Scott.  That was grade 10.  We all ran worlds of our own, different kinds of worlds, taking turns running each weekend, sometimes playing both Friday and Saturday.  As DMs dropped out, after a year, John and I were the only ones still running.  Then a lot of infighting broke out and the group split apart.  As far as I know, I was the only one still playing D&D by the end of high school.

I got a new group through grade eleven.  A different Mike, who would prove one of the best players I ever knew (not playing any more), a different Jim, the same Calvin, Lori and her older sister Jodie.  The sisters stopped playing around the time that Brent showed up, bringing his girlfriend Coral, and then I met my girlfriend Roberta and the game just kept going after high school.

I worked office jobs for three years before going to university, by which time I'd picked up Craig and his brother, yet another Mike (that's three), Steve, his sister Vicki, Steve's girlfriend Lori (a different Lori), my ex-girlfriend Nicole and her boyfriend Tom, P.J., my wife Michelle, Dennis and his girlfriend Jody and of course still Brent, the second Mike and Calvin.  For anyone counting, that's 14 total players, the most I've ever run regularly.  I am sorry to say they usually all showed up.  We didn't get much done but damn, those were wild times.

Through university the group got cut down to the two Mikes, Craig, Brent and Michelle; the others wound up quitting the game, finding work or school in another city or falling prey to drugs.  That seems to happen a lot to would-be players.  This group kept playing all the way through university; Craig and the third Mike got replaced for a time by Tom and his brother Darcy, then by '94/'95 the whole group just went tits up.  My wife got very sick with multiple sclerosis and I was left juggling her and my daughter, so I didn't play D&D seriously for 8 years.  Michelle passed on and I crashed for a time.  Now and then, I kept working on D&D . . . but the only games I played were short, usually with strangers and not particularly engaging.

So in 2003 my 15-year-old daughter began pressuring me to play D&D.  She'd played with friends and went on doing so, but I began running scattered games with her and my second wife Tamara - and that grew into a new group as my daughter progressed through high school (around 2004/05).  I began playing with her, her boyfriend Kevin (a different Kevin, obviously, whom my daughter is marrying this upcoming November), Amanda, and a fellow named Tucci.  We were later joined by Garrett and Desjardin, played a little with a fourth Mike and an Andrew, and then the lesbians Melissa and Katrina joined in about the time Amanda left.  For the record, calling M & K "the lesbians" is a tradition that began for them in high school long before I met them and remains until the present day.  I gave an address at their wedding about two years ago; I hugged them both yesterday.

That group has settled into my daughter, Kevin, Tamara, the lesbians, Houston and finally Kelly, who started playing a little more than a year ago.

At the same time, about five years ago, Tamara and I began playing with Jan and Jessica; and that group has since been joined by Eric, who only got to play about four games before I suspended my sessions so I could concentrate on my book.  This is a completely different campaign I'm running in the same world.

So, a lot of people.  And a lot of women, as well as men.  I won't try to add them up because the number wouldn't reflect everyone I've ever played with.  I'm only including regular players.

It has been quite a collection of souls.  Do you suppose there's room in the afterlife for all these people to get together and play?

1 comment:

Tim said...

There's something very powerful to naming all these people, as though their names are what launch them into existence out of the ether. Like some kind of magic spell.
I suppose to some degree the history of your D&D experience validates your comments about Batman and Superman. The many names, groups and years testify that life always intervenes to disrupt our current situation (be it the situation of our friends and players or of our own lives), leaving us to adjust and change. Superheroes seem so concerned with the elevated world of ideals that they rarely appear to be forced to grow as individuals or show real agency beyond the "call of duty." D&D players and their characters instead contend with reversals and ruptures, where they can't simply retreat from their villains to lick their wounds or build a bigger gun, but have to sacrifice something to grow and flourish anew.
Thank you for sharing, and good luck with the writing.