Tuesday 10 May 2011

My Gaming Memoirs Part 21 - 2003

And like that - my gaming ceased.

I'm not entirely sure what exactly happened. I know that my gaming friends had moved away, become too busy or had conflicting schedules and my main gaming partner Andy had moved a couple of hundred miles away for a new job. It suddenly stopped and I was left in RPG limbo. I still socialised with my non-gaming friends and had fun at weekends, but my weeks were primarily made up of me designing lots of stuff for RPGs and then ultimately binning the ideas. That was pretty soul-destroying as I was having some great ideas, some of which I have or am hoping to replicate in upcoming campaigns, and they were being discarded or forgotten about. My initial enthusiasm for the projects was being extinguished by there being no game to give the idea an outlet. I became incredibly frustrated.

This led to finding other avenues of creativity. I joined the British Science Fiction Association and became interested in submitting work for their writer's journal 'Focus', I delved into more script writing and I wrote setting bibles for different projects. Now my ideas were being given flesh outside the RPG hobby and it was amazing how my years of gaming aided me in my endeavours. I was pretty fluent in story and plot creation, characterisation, dialogue and even art that helped me visualise my ideas. I then started reading books on writing and filmmaking and world creation by established and famous authors and through those I learned a lot.

But even though I was learning new skills that would utlimately lead to publication I still wasn't gaming. All that year the same thought burned through my head - could this be the end of my hobby?

Don't be daft.

Sunday 8 May 2011

My Gaming Memoirs Part 20 - 2002

Well, my gaming plodded on. There were some great WFRP games still, but they were dwindling. A lot of my time was now being spent on reading and writing games, and even more was being spent on tweaking my D12 system game 'The League Of Seven'.

A non-gaming friend of mine, Lee, was a bit of a computer genius and we spoke at length (during one of our drunken conversations) about making games available online. You sign up, pay a subscription or just a flat fee and you get access to the game, gaming materials and extras. We decided to use my D12 game and he set about building the website and I wrote the game.

It was long, arduous work. I redesigned the game system, the setting, the adventures, the history, the suppplements - I created everything from scratch. Lee built the website from the bottom up (sadly, it no longer exists) and created everything we would have needed to get the project started. I even did the artwork, simple sketches to fill the gaps until proper artwork could be sourced. It would have been amazing, if it had actually happened.

I have no general idea why it was we never took the plunge and just released the game. I know I wasn't 100% satisfied with the game. The system was still a bit clunky and I was leaning further and further away from using a single D12 as the main die and was angling more towards 2D6. I couldn't get much playtesting done as my gaming circle had reduced to virtually nothing quite dramatically and Lee had other things going on in his life that he had to attend to. There was never a moment where we said, 'okay, we've gotta let this go', we simply stopped working on it. It was a real shame.

In other gaming related areas, the Lightsabre website was still going strong and more material was being added to it all the time as we found old notes, drawings, gaming material and books. The Setnin Sector was larger and vaster than even we had realised, until it got so big we had to cut away a lot of the planets in it and call it a region, not a sector. It amazed me just how much material a gaming group could create over a few combined years of gaming. Everything was being edited and used, everything from every GM that had run a game in Setnin. It was numbering tens of thousands of words and filling our allocated website space quite rapidly. It was something to be proud of. In fact, Lightsabre was becoming so popular that we had started to interview the stars of the books and movies - Kevin J Anderson, David Prowse, Kenny Baker. In later years Anthony Daniels, Irvin Kershner and Rick McCallum would join the illustrious roster as Mark email- and telephone-interviewed his heart out. Lightsabre had become much more than a resource for the Setnin Sector and took on a life of it's own, becoming one of the most popular Star Wars fansites in the world.

After this year, my writing and roleplaying would start to pay off in ways I didn't see coming.

Sunday 1 May 2011

My Gaming Memoirs Part 19 - 2001

I have decided to delete this entry because it's unfair to be sharing a story about a terrible session where people may recognise themselves and get embaressed.

I did not name anybody but sharing horror stories like this may sound fun but that's only to those viewing from the outside. It can be unpleasant for those involved.

My Gaming Memoirs Part 18 - 2000

A new millenium signalled a change to my gaming. Now that I had access to the internet and a gaming console, mainly a PSone, I was spending a lot of time on the net conversing with other like-minded individuals and blasting through games. I had also purchased a DVD player for the first time and was beginning what would be a huge collection of movies, shows and documentaries that I would watch whilst designing my games. My collection of 500+ video cassettes were slowly being replaced by shiny new DVDs. In a similar fashion, my RPGs were being replaced by immersive, enjoyable console and PC games. It was also clear that the movies were having an influence on the games I was designing. More than once, much to my disappointment, the fact that my adventure was similar to this movie or that show was mentioned in the few games I did run.

This was mainly due to the fact that my gaming circle had dwindled. Family responsibilites, especially Andy who had small children of his own, and general changes in life had taken players away from me so I had time to kill. During this long hiatus I designed more for my League of Seven setting, created more material for the Lightsabre website and spent my weekends socialising and partying with my non-gamer circle of friends. I didn't mind the break in games as I had plenty of other things to keep me occupied.

There were no new gamers during this period. I didn't meet, introduce or even converse on the internet with anyone who wanted to game with me. I started posting on internet forums and spent a lot of time conversing with other roleplayers. In fact, I spent more time taking about games than actually playing them but it was good to hear other people's views and opinions on tabletop gaming, from all over the world.

By the end of the year I hadn't really accomplished much as far as gaming was concerned, so I decided to put myself out there and actively searched for another group. I found one local to me who were starting a new Call of Cthulhu campaign the following year and they invited me to it. The GM, John, seemed like a nice bloke.

I say seemed. Oh, and just so you know that my next memoir entry is going to be a horror story about joining an existing group in which most of the players have apparently been gaming longer than anyone in the entire world, John isn't his real name.