Pen Over Pixel I: An Admission
In the past, I have been open to admit my less-than-mainstream gaming habits. A PC cultist, an enduring fan of the nearly-dead "flight simulator" and "urban management" genres, my tastes are archaic on a good day, and persistently arcane. However, today, I'd like to discuss a form of gaming that has not appeared, to my knowledge, on this site: pen and paper roleplaying. The genre that contains Dungeons & Dragons, Vampire: The Masquerade, Shadowrun, and countless others. The pursuit that, arguably, gave birth to the roleplaying videogame genre.
Yep, I'm going there.
Unlike some of my other nerdily-skewed pursuits, tabletop roleplaying games remain very popular, with D&D (the most successful of the bunch) the source of over $1 billion in sales for Wizards of the Coast. And while they still occupy the domain of the ultra-nerdy, weekly pen and paper sessions are becoming more the domain of the urban hipster-geek rather than the archetypal basement-dwelling set.
While participating in many of the chronicles and stories my friends assembled, I've never been successful in running a game of my own. Sure, there were false starts here and there, but never something for which I was sufficiently prepared, never something into which my players could sink their teeth. Scheming for a spell on a game based on FASA and Microsoft's Crimson Skies, my plans fell to the wayside, with boxes of aircraft miniatures left to collect dust.
Like any creative pursuit, inspiration for my game struck without warning, as I rode the 545 from Redmond back to my home in Seattle. Idly pondering the venerable Boeing B-17 (the aircraft my grandfather flew in the second World War), I began to imagine if the same plane had been developed in the Crimson Skies universe. Inspiration struck. I had to act fast -- experience warned that failing to write then and there would cause me to lose the spark. As the bus rolled along, mired with traffic on the floating bridge, the setting for the game unfolded ahead of me - plot, characters, missions and adventures all channeled through my pen and into my notebook for later perusal and refinement.
The stage was set. Now, I had to draw my wayward players back into the fold.