The Wheel Turns and Burns

Every once in a while I get all misty-eyed and I-love-you-man about the folks I game with.  This is such a time.

Look posted this up on the BW forum:

Five years ago today we released Burning Wheel Revised.
In five years we’ve sold over 7000 copies of BWR alone.
We’ve traveled the US and Europe promoting the game.
We’ve introduced thousands of gamers to the Burning games.
We’ve played incredibly games (that just keep getting better).
We’ve made amazing friends who will be with us for many years to come.

Thanks all for making this dream come true.
We hope to see you all at 10/10/10 so we can celebrate!

-Luke and BWHQ

And it got me thinking back on the past five years or so of gaming, looking back on AP threads.

Here is my first BW thread, I believe, 3 BW Games in 5 Days, in which I struggle with the rules, fuck up pre-game preparation, still manage to have a decent time here and there but I’m banging my head against the system. Some of my friends liked what they saw in the system and some hated the damned thing.

So, why and how did I continue playing the game and wrestling with it?

It is because, in Ithaca, I am blessed. I don’t have one group in this town. I am lucky to have a network of players and people interested in gaming, up for something new, game to try something. There are a few dozen games in this town whom I consider friends, people I’d be eager and happy to share a beverage with.

If I was gaming group monogamous, I’d never be able to play the game again as soon as one or two people hated it. I get to play games that I dig with people who are willing and eager to try them because when it comes to gaming groups, I lean polyamorous.

I don’t play PTA with Jim or Aaron because they tend to like more mechanics to sink their teeth into. I play Shock: with Pete and Janaki because we love making up worlds together and see how they turn out when we bang on them with anthropological hammers. The BW character sheets make Janaki dizzy but make Aaron sing with glee. And I full realize that I can do this because I have spent the last 10+ years gaming in this medium-smallish college town and rather than sinking one night a week into creating the perfect group of uber-gamers, I have flitted around, weaving webs and making networks of buddies.

Some I don’t game with at all, because their games don’t interest me and mine don’t interest them but we have fun IMing or having the occasional lunch to talk shop and geek out. Some are up for long campaigns, some aren’t. Some are down with the occasional one-shot once the kids are asleep, some want to game on Friday night have rocking a porch party. Some were strangers who PMed me on a forum (and some of those became great friends and others faded), some got dragged into a game I was playing with through a stagnant university gaming club and others have been friends we met under the mantle of Kryos over a decade ago.

My gaming privilege makes me wince when people post on forums how “their group would never play X game that they lust after.”

So, thank you, my friends who despite their busy lives, careers and families spend time playing games with me.

Thank you to my friends who played

the pirates,


revolutionary fast food workers rebelling against The Man,

the R&D exec and the Rogue Scientist,

the interstellar corporate agents,

the Patrol-men and Patrol-women,

the barber’s son from the Sangre,

the knight and the bastard,

the uncommon orcs,

the princess and the bodyguard,

the freebooter turned mercenary captain turned champion of humanity, the Herald of the Dawn, the Spider of the Book and the Chosen of Hell’s Honorable Brother,

the Horselord Prince, the Sheriff of Baal, the God-killers

the Elven Sword-singer and his loyal princeling apprentice,

the nobles and the jihadim,

the teen  samurai hostages to the sleeping emperor who dressed as ninja and went dancing at night,

the kids with magic out on the corner,

the Dragonborn Cleric, the Human Fighter, the Drow Ranger and the Elven Paladin,

the wolf pack traversing the World Tree in search of a new alpha,

the Barons whose lands surrounded the Hub of all Revenge,

the doomed samurai ascending a cold mountain for bloody reasons,

the cast and crew of Hare and Hound,

the Man in the Mountain,

the concubine and the dead god’s bride,

the Centurions,

Sharn’s Finest,

the cast and crew of Episode LV,

the Grey Legionnaires,

and many more.

Thank you, my friends for joining me in trying odd games, playtesting others and all in all making up cool shit.

Two Days of Splendid Gaming

Origin Story: The Riddle of Midnight

When I returned to Ithaca a few years ago, one of the few people to really make a sincere effort to track me down was J.J. He stopped by a few times when I was a Youth Advocate, a slave to a beeper and trapped in a strange schedule. When he was in a bad car wreck and broke his hip I thought of that. I remembered how he kept stopping by and trying to hang out and how I never made the time to track him down.

In guilt, in honor of his effort, in friendship, I decided that the least I could do for my wounded friend was to start a role-playing game. The finest thing I can do for someone trying to learn how to walk again, trapped at his parent’s house, unsure of his future, is give them a passport to another world.

That was why I started the game I call the Riddle of Midnight. It has been running off and on for a year and in that time JJ has re-learned to walk and celebrated the first birthday of his only son.

Swashing Buckles and Buckling Swashes

Oddly, I met Robert Ahrens on-line. It sounds cheesy, almost corny when I say that out loud. We both frequent, a geek’s forum where one can either kvetch about Lucas, ask if someone knows the names of all of the Gord the Rogue books or just in general get your geek on.

We ended up hanging out in real life and we didn’t meet any of the D&D Geek stereotypes that are so cringe-worthy becomes sometimes they are so damned apt. We both bathed, made eye contact when speaking to another, could talk about something other than gaming and generally got along.

It was a nice thing to be invited into Robert’s game, something of an honor. Non-gamers won’t understand the hesitation. Picture gaming as making a story with your friends. Imagine you are making an imaginative yarn with your friends and it is going well. What if you invite someone to make a story with you all but they’re crap? what if they’re terrible? What if their method for generating stories is so different that you can’t sit at the same table and make stories together without great pain and annoyance?

That’s the fear.

I’ve met Robert’s eclectic group though and now I’m a happy and eager player in his cool 7th Sea game, an RPG with influences from the 3 Musketeers, Zorro and throw in a little Faery magic. Fun stuff.

Which brings us to the present…

In these last days of unemployed languor, I have gamed. It has been glorious. Yesterday, with Jessi in town, we played the Riddle of Steel in the Midnight setting. It was seven hours of good role-playing and fun. Jessi even commented on the energy of the game approaching (but not close to reaching) the levels we found when running Ars AD&Dica in days of yore.

Today I was in Robert’s lovely 7th Sea game, where I have been inserted in the final 10-12 weeks of the game. Tonight I felt that it was the first night my character really shined. It was nice to play again and not have to juggle ten different shiny things at once. Playing is so pleasant, only having to focus on my one character and not considering the consequences of an entire world (or worlds).

It has been a most pleasant two days.