Saturday, 23 April 2011

My Gaming Memoirs Part 16 - 1998

I think this was the year when I realised that I was a collector of games as well as a player.

My bookshelves were groaning under the weight of the number of books I was buying. My disposable income was going on weekends out ( I was still enjoying socialising and the odd beer) and gaming materials. I was spending a lot of time in a shop called Dungeons & Starships and nosing through their second-hand bins. It wasn't that I was going to play all the games I bought, I was mining them for ideas and information. If there were charts and tables I could use then I'd nab them, too, and I took a huge interest in game mechanics and how they worked.

I was still writing a lot - short stories, articles and the such - and one of my articles had been accepted for a roleplaying magazine called 'Arcane'. They also accepted a rant letter I sent them as the article for their feature 'On The Soapbox'. If you've got the very last issue of 'Arcane' magazine then the soapbox article in there, 'Please Hug The Roleplayer To Your Left', is mine. Sadly, even though I got a letter of acceptance from 'Arcane' and a monetary offer, the magazine ceased publication.

Still, I enjoyed writing the articles and it gave me the push to have a go at writing a game. For no creative reason whatsoever I started work on a game called 'Spirit', which used the lowly D12 as it's only dice. I think I chose the D12 for no other reason that there were no other games that really used it. I know nothing of probability curves or maths, so there you go.

'Spirit' was a post-apocalyptic game set on an Earth where the atmosphere was somewhat toxic and the oceans had risen and then mainly frozen over, so everyone lived underground and travelled by submarine. I got my inspiration from 'Das Boot', 'Crimson Tide' and 'The Hunt For Red October', and the system was simple; you had a skill level from 1-12 - the higher the better - and you had to roll less than the skill level on a D12 to succeed. I only ran a few games in playtest and it went down quite well. I liked the setting, but the system needed some work. I think, to be honest, the players were more interested in the setting than the game. Indeed, I ran the same setting using Twilight: 2000 and the the D6 System a couple of years later.

So this was my first foray into proper game design. I'd been playing with mechanics for some time but this was my first attempt at putting them into practice. My WFRP and some new Star Wars D6 games were still going strong and drawing crowds so I was satisfied in that regard. My gaming hobby was ticking over nicely.

It was this year that best mate and fellow Star Wars gamer Mark realised that there was far too much sporadic information regarding our Setnin Sector, and he decided to get together all the stuff we'd created and build a definitive, accurate setting bible, of all the characters, locations, technology and incidents. With Louis, they would build a website that would hold all this information and they'd make it available to everyone.

It's not until you gather all the stories, creations and details of a long-term campaign setting that you realise just how huge it's become. What Mark and Louis were attempting would be back-breaking work and take the better part of a year to fully realise.