This article comes on the back of a conversation I seem to have every once in a while when reminiscing about gaming when I was younger. You see, I’m still in contact with a lot of the people who were there when I first threw down some dice. Whenever we talk about my first forays into gaming, I always inwardly shudder. I was a bit crap you see, for a variety of reasons. To put it bluntly, I doubt I would be happy in the same room as my seventeen year old self, let alone in the same game. So presented here is the letter I would send the younger me, with bits of advice about his life with regards to the hobby that would take up so much of his time, and create not only lasting friendships, but opportunities, and even occasionally love.
Firstly, don’t get too used to being called that. In a matter of weeks, someone is going to forget your name, and when they introduce to someone else, they’ll just use the name of the character you’re currently playing. Don’t bother trying to change it. Shorty is a good name, and over the next couple of decades, it’s going to become pretty well known in certain circles. Don’t worry about trying to explain it either, just tell people it’s a long story, and move on.
So, with regards to role playing, I have a few things you should be aware of. Mainly, calm the fuck down! The people you’re gaming with right now are being bloody wonderful, and very patient indeed. You don’t need to impress them. They’re geeks just like you, so trying to be cool will win you no friends. And they’re better at being geeks than you, so just pay attention and learn what you can. They’ll almost all become great friends, so just carry on with what you’re doing, but take it down a notch or five.
Oh, and don’t worry about fitting in with anyone else too much. You’re out of school, and about to move out of your Mum’s place. That means you can make your own friends, and these guys and gals are gonna be great for that. They like the fact that you read comic books and fantasy novels. A whole bunch of them are into heavy metal and sci-fi movies too. The fact that you can quite the Evil dead films is something in your favour right now!
Stay interested and curious about things; keep asking questions. The fact that you know a massive amount of almost totally useless facts is going to be very useful for conversations in pubs later on, so keep absorbing knowledge. But for the love of god, stop asking your GM too many questions! And really stop doing shit like that during games. You deserve every bad thing that happens to you if you piss off the GM, and when it’s your turn, you’ll see why it was so bloody annoying.
Don’t rush into GMing though. There’s no pressure for you to do that, apart from what you place on yourself. Wait until you’re ready and run a damned fine game. You may not have too many of your own ideas right now, but rather than nicking other people’s stuff, wait until inspiration strikes. When it does, it’ll all be worth it, and people will keep coming back for more.
In this hunt for inspiration, play every game you game you can, with anyone who wants to play. Not every game will be amazing, and I promise you that you won’t like every gamer you meet. But if you don’t take some chances, you’ll get stuck in a rut. The guys you’re gaming with now are great, but in about ten years, you’re going to start playing with ‘the Birkby Lot’, and wonder why the hell you weren’t doing this sooner. A phrase that’s been going through my head a lot lately is one that you should keep in mind. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So suck it up and take a few more risks, you’ll be amazed how many of them pay off.
And when you do end up in games with people you just don’t gel with, don’t take shit so personally. Especially in character stuff. You look like a douche when you get wound up over stuff like that, and people will talk. Sure, it might not be fun, but it’s at times like that, that you have to remember that it’s only a game. You let that crap slide right off you, and get on with enjoying the game. That’s what they’re there for.
There’s a bunch more stuff I’d like to tell you about girls and careers, but this letter can’t actually travel through time, and is in fact just a post on an RPG blog, so I thought I’d best keeping it on topic. Oh, but just in case: invest in Facebook.
Peace, Asshole! (don’t worry, that’ll make sense later)