1. What do you look for in a roleplaying experience? What’s necessary to make it ‘acceptable’, what would make it ideal?
Ideally, I want to be someone else for two hours or so. That’s about how long I can game as a player/PC for. Part of it is wanting to have the experience I described the last time I did this five questions thing: from time to time I become somebody else for a little while, and those experiences inspire my own writing. This is one of the reasons I like playing in small campaign settings — I want to be in a place that feels real when I game, and it’s hard for me to feel that when I’m a person-sized speck on a planet-sized map.
As far as what makes it acceptable — well, that’s harder. A lot depends on the game system. I’m happiest when I get a chance to cast a few spells, shoot a few arrows, and hit things a few times with a sword. Sci-fi experiences are not so much fun for me, as a roleplayer; neither are superhero events. I hate being a monster; Vampire and its ilk has never appealed to me, because I hate feeling like I’m not a hero. In fact, the first time I played a vamp, I personally became ill and vomited when the GM explained to me how I drank human blood during a hunt gone wrong. A quite wonderful game system, ruined for me in the space of 20 minutes. That’s the downside of getting into the headspace of a character — I hated the persona I was playing so much that I couldn’t continue playing. When the school’s gaming club embraced the SToryteller system without reservations, I found myself being the president of a gaming club that had no games I could play in and still have fun.
2. You’re the only person I know who’s mentioned incorporating Roman ritual into your practice. (Is this more common than I’ve been aware of?) I’m curious to here more about that. Is there anything in particular about Roman practice that particularly appeals to you?
I’m also the only person I know who’s mentioned incorporating Roman ritual into my practice. It’s not common to my knowledge, and I don’t know of anyone else out there who does it. Part of the reason why I like the idea of having Roman ritual practice in my life, though, is that I’m looking for something to replace the outward observances of Christianity that I used to hold (ahem) religiously. The Romans have a religious festival for something pretty much every other day, thanks to their second king, Numa Pompilius. Numa put in festivals for everything, thanks to his alleged girlfriend, the nymph/goddess Egeria. Thanks to Julius Caesar, their calendar lines up fairly nicely with ours.
I like the historical aspects of it. The Romans were pantheistic and animistic, two ideas I find quite attractive; they also believed in ancestors who were empowered in the spirit world, and household and family gods, another thing I find attactive. In practice, however, I’m finding it hard to buy into it. It’s one thing to say, “This stick of incense is dedicated to Fortuna, the goddess of luck,” and then go buy a lottery ticket. It’s quite another to believe that Fortuna somehow heard this prayer and received this power. I’ve only been doing this for a few months, but there’s no fire, no energy in the action, and no sense of higher purposes at work. It feels empty and hollow. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll continue past February or not; the omens, so to speak, are saying no.
3. How did you end up with so many degrees?
I like going to classes, and my school pays tuition costs. That’s the facile answer. In practice, though, I got the religious degree because I was living in DC and the Seminary was up the road, and it was clear politics was not a road I could tread or wanted to tread. So I thought about becoming a priest. Going to seminary, though, is like going to see a Greek tragedy, and then getting invited backstage to meet the actors. There’s all this high drama and deep emotional stuff at first, and then you get to see these future priests being catty, nasty, real human beings. You realize that bishops and ordinary folks are mostly just the same as regular people, afterwards. It’s not necessarily hypocricy, but it is … hmmm… learning the magician’s tricks. Watching the rites isn’t quite so shining afterwards.
My other advanced degree was paid for by my school, as a result of me attending enough classes at their expense. Advanced degrees make teachers look more competent and capable, and we become more useful to the school as a result. And I like taking classes in subjects that interest me, like Roman history and China and so on. If I had to get an education degree, though, I’d kill myself; the stuff they teach is dull, dry and disgusting.
4. What would it take to make you feel one notch richer than you currently feel?
I would like to own a house, a condo, a 3-apartment building, some piece of real estate. Owning such a piece of property wouldn’t necessarily make me richer; it might make me feel poorer, in fact. Yet I feel much at the mercy of my employer, who is also my landlord. Living in a dormitory as a housemaster is cool, but not having to be here so much of the time would rock. I could say more about that, but I don’t think I will.
5. What are you proudest of doing in 2004 so far?
This is a tough one, the toughest of the questions you’ve asked me. I had a difficult conversation with my girlfriend last night which ended reasonably well, and I’m fairly proud of that. I’m working on a White Wolf freelance assignment, and that’s almost done, and I’m proud of how well I wrote the first draft, and how good the second draft will be. I negotiated a significant salary increase for the 2004-2005 school year, and that’s pretty good. I just finished helping a group of kids negotiate the process necessary to write a 6-8 page paper, including bibliography and footnoes, and that’s good. I designed a little Excel spreadsheet to calculate my grades, and that’s pretty darn cool; I’m proud of that.
But all of these are about ongoing processes, and so much of my life is about “You did good today… What’s on the plate for tomorrow?” What am I proudest of, this year? Going for a walk in the sun yesterday. Not because it was the right thing to do, but because it was an hour of happiness.
1 – Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 – I will respond; I’ll ask you five questions.
3 – You’ll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 – You’ll include this explanation.
5 – You’ll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.