So, in an effort to get some of my kids to do something other than sit around playing video games and becoming anti-social, I’ve started an RPG game club in the evening. We began last Monday with character generation, and we’ve played Wednesday, Saturday and today. They may get bored in a week or two, they may keep playing until graduation, they may make it part of their daily lives permanently. It’s clear that my own ideas about gaming will never be the same.
A week ago, T was exclaiming about his studded leather armor, “Go on… touch the spikes. Touch ’em!” and patting his shoulder, daring the other players to punch his shoulder. When they did punch him, he would explain, “Ha! You can’t touch ’em, ’cause they’re invisible!” In a puzzling way, I think this was about him getting used to the idea that his character was armored — and perhaps by imagining armor on his player-character identity, he was able to think of himself as better armored.
Wednesday was a typical slogfest, with the three characters simply rushing into combat, searching for gold, and then demanding a new encounter. If the game continues like this on Saturday, I promised myself, I am out of here. Working our way through three encounters was grueling, especially when the players went after each other in game-time/combat-time, and started rolling attack and damage rolls against each other. Aieee, I thought.
Yesterday was totally different. One player deliberately flanked a goblin they were dealing with. Another fired a flaming arrow into a bunch of cobwebs, to cause burning cobwebs to drift and fall into the hair of their enemy, distracting them. Characters began to emerge. The half-orc barbarian began to call the other characters by friendly-insult names, and the other characters responded — not the players, but the characters. The half-orc fighter recognized the barbarian as a brother.
Today, the half-orc twins’ momma emerged into the game as a powerful force. “Momma Grom is going to beat you raw for running from mere kobolds” said one player to another. “Oh, yeah?” growled the other brother, “well, at least I don’t puke my lunch.” Back and forth flew the insults. One of the kids killed a kobold by flinging it off a bridge into the abyss, and ad libbed a line about “Klogthrab,” an orcish game involving how many successful bounces you can get out of a prisoner flung off a cliff. The other threatened him with the promise to tell Momma on him. The first orc scoffed, “Hey, playing Klogthrab is fine. It’s not like I was gambling, after all.”
Their human companion demanded a horse in town, as partial payment of a debt owed. Grom reminded him, “hey, we split everything three ways, in this gang.” The other, Airez, agreed. When the human demurred, insisting that the horse was for riding, Airez nonchalantly offered, “That’s fine, you can ride your third of the horse — but we get the hind legs.”
We’ve come a long way since the days of invisible spikes.