Sunday, August 13, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 Day 13: Describe a Game Experience That Changed How You Play

Day 13 of #RPGaDay brings back waves of nostalgia:

"Describe a Game Experience That Changed How You Play"

Short Answer -  September 22, 1990, "The Jade Monkey"

Long Answer  -
Way back in 1990 I was a Junior in high school and a regular DM at the dining room table for my friends.  The gaming convention, Lehicon III was descending upon the Sheraton Inn in Easton, Pennsylvania, my hometown.

I've talked about the con at length here, so today I'll focus on the Saturday night session, the RPGA Open game, the Jade Monkey.

My early days for D&D was like the majority of D&D gamers out that secretly reside out in the countryside, play the same system they've played for the last 10, 20, 30, nay I say 40 years.  The play style nudges slightly closer to "Roll-Playing" than "ROLE-playing."  A little sandbox here, a little flavor text there, SWAT style fantasy tactics during a dungeon crawl.  No one's been trying to pretend they're doing Summer Stock for years, and at least one dude's version of role-playing is "Malthor the Mighty seduces the barmaid."   And he hasn't changed that for 15 years.

FYI: There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, at my first convention, I hit some horrible AD&D games, but to wrap up my evening, I jumped in an RPGA Open one-shot, The Jade Monkey by Carl Buehler.

The adventure itself is pretty standard fare (check out Polyhedron #62) of tricks, traps, and a pig-iron pig golem named Wilbur, but this was the first game I had participated in that came with fully-fleshed out pre-generated characters, complete with backstories and opinions of the other characters.

Throw in our DM, Joe Ward and an equal mix table of men and women, and I got to experience proper PC and NPC interactions.  It wasn't the new age improv gaming you can find on today's podcast actual plays, but the door to that style was finally cracked open.
"Copper Piece?"
I didn't go barging through that door of role-playing Nirvana, and part of it was by character design. William of Arinka was a shamed paladin disguised as a simple warrior.  Shy and wary to use his paladin abilities due to his previous failings, William was fine to defer leadership to others, use his sword and magic items when asked, yet somehow I was still stuck in multiple awkward situations, including one involving the elf I had a major crush on falling on top of me while I was sans culottes.  Lots of laughter, lots of fun, and the fate of Macon the Monkey Mage was an afterthought.

It's not exactly Powered by the Apocalypse, but for me, it was the start I needed.   

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