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Drama & Dragons

October 2, 2018


The scribe flexed his fingers above the onyx black slab and gazed upon the regiments of runes, each a key to another dimension!  Each rune was bound with sounds of power; q, w, e, r, t, y! The scribe scratched his beard and sucked a cup of hot brew, splashed with a teat-squirt of stomach churned grass. If only he could rearrange them, those runic tones and create a portal to another world! 

So, I wrote a short story for a literary magazine, The London Reader and Gods Bless ’em, they published it! That was nice of them – and first try to get a short story published too. I suppose I should find this encouraging and do more. Especially as my motivation for pitching to the BBC is to be found at the bottom of a pit-trap. The treasured goal of a sustainable career in show-business is being squatted on by a dragon that spits corrosive nos. I often think I work in an industry that doesn’t nurture talent, it destroys it. Only the toughest survive.

So, time for an escape into fantasy.

I’ve been playing Roleplaying Games since the early 80’s – probably starting in 1982-83. Instead of listing games and games systems, all I’d like to say is that role-playing games have probably been responsible for the most engrossing and entertaining afternoons I’ve ever had. It’s like being in a movie and making a movie and talking about the movie and sharing that with your friends in all of the above at the same time. It’s great fun.

It can also be a bit tense, especially when a much valued character of many years (and real real-world years) is in mortal peril…or loses that fight. It’s what I decided to write my story about: The D6 Stages of Grief. I hope it captures the drama and tension of losing a character and also gives a flavour of what sort of arguments teenage geeks can have over a table-top strewn with fizzy pop, maize snacks and lead figurines.

I like fantasy settings and story-telling – both created and driven by the imagination. But the best fantasy isn’t that fantastical: there are always rules, boundaries and consequences. A world in which anything can happen is a world in which nothing really happens – or matters. If the limits of gravity can be overcome with mana, then mana itself has to have limits. Fantasy Roleplaying Games provide that structure and that tension, so that the rewards are so much greater when the obstacles are overcome.

Ah. Well. So, I’ve inadvertently put paid to my whingeing writer moan earlier on. I’ll just have to toughen up and keep going. (Whilst acknowledging the magical support of my own Chalana Arroy Priestess, Penny ~ who keeps me going despite my woeful hit points and miserable pow).

I hope you like the story – follow the link above, or find it on kindle.

Because the internet is a God that Demands Lists, here’s ~

10 Things that Playing  FRPGs have taught me:

  1. To see everyone in terms of a character sheet and realise how mediocre and unheroic my own stats are. If I rolled me up, I’d be disappointed. That is until I realised how bad things were to the left slope of Mount Bell Curve. FRPG’s teach us to be grateful for who we are. I know. It’s like a ****ing inspirational poster.
  2.  That people don’t really roleplay against their own character traits much. Roleplaying reveals more about us than we’d probably comfortably admit.
  3. The biggest element of fantasy in Conan the Barbarian is that he doesn’t wear armour and lives.
  4. I write a lot of scenarios and adventures that seem to have an all-important dinner scene. I like dinner – a lot.
  5. Coincidences happen in games of the imagination: stories are made up, settings developed outside of published material and later on – independently created places synchronise eerily well with canon, The imagination is the collective unconscious.
  6. Also, dice rolls – those all important rare dice rolls, such as that critical roll – are achieved with surprising, perhaps above chance regularity. Proof of PK?
  7. When testing Spiritualist Mediums’ Psychometric abilities, I hand them my own character’s character sheet (naturally in a sealed brown envelope). On the two occasions this has happened, both mediums were disturbed. One medium felt that there wasn’t quite something real or right about the piece of paper (which he couldn’t see) and the other got extreme violence. I thought this was a bit off as my character is quite the philanthropist and family man, but then I thought about it and realised that yes – my character has killed probably hundreds of people. (But they were all bad). I wonder if all Roleplaying Characters are proto-Tulpas, or made-spirits (like the Toronto Group’s Phillip) that exist somehow
  8. How long do horses live? I mean, at their peak physical condition? These are the sorts of facts that FRPGs force you to learn, whether you want to or not. Also, how long can you breathe underwater – with and without taking a breath first? Again, real world physics as taught by accidents in enchanted dungeons….
  9. Watch your back! Somebody always has to have your back. You need your own Circle of Defence. When it’s a matter of life or death, nobody fights fair. So: Friends and Allies are more important than personal power.
  10. You need to recharge after adventures to learn from your experience. I realise that I don’t do this. Does this mean – that in real life – I haven’t learnt anything? It’s a sobering thought that after every adventure a character rests to benefit: and yet, in the real world, when do we? 
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Stuart Thomas permalink
    October 2, 2018 2:51 pm

    How I love to read your words!

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