In which I become a Dungeon Master

One of the challenges being a geek in the corporate world is finding people to game with. Sure, if you’re going to do Fantasy Football (and I do) or Madden 2012 (which I will when I get it on Tuesday – Woot!) you can usually find someone in the office who plays. But, Dungeons and Dragons? Heroclix? Heroscape? Not very likely.

If I want to find someone to play those games, I have to get creative.  Take Heroclix. Heroclix was my gateway drug into collectible miniatures. But once I got those first few boosters, I struggled to figure out who I might pull in, then I realized…the kids! Unfortunately, they were 4 and 6 at the time, but I was quite sure I could teach them. How do I justify this to my wife though? Math! Heroclix is all about math when rolling attacks, defenses, etc. It was a good plan and it really did get them adding and subtracting in their head. I think they even learned something about strategy (assuming the strategy was gang up on Dad or throw a fit when you lose).

Jumping into Heroclix began to expand my trip into the world of gaming. I learned about message boards and that stores actually host games! Who knew? I didn’t. So the boys and I would roll down to the shops and watch, then ultimately play. It was a great learning experience for all of us. (I’m always amazed how gracious gamers are with kids.) This opened up a whole world of possibility for group play.

But as time wore on I was looking for new games to play. Then, Dungeons and Dragons 4e came out. I hadn’t played D&D since I was 13 (maybe AD&D at the time?) and I really wanted to play this game. Fortunately, a couple of local game shops were hosting D&D gamedays where you could demo the products. So, off the boys (now 10 and 12) and I went to the stores. We had a great time. To this day, the boys talk about “Flame Seed Guy,” a guy playing a Druid who threw a flame seed into a room full of flour or something. He created a conflagration that not only took out the enemies, but did substantial damage to our team! Flame Seed Guy’s real name was Brad and he and I spoke a lot throughout the game, mostly me going on about how I really wanted to play D&D regularly.

At the end of the game, Brad told me that his 4e group was looking for a 5th member. Someone had dropped out and they really needed a 5th character, would I like to give it a whirl. I jumped on the chance. This lead to a great 15 months of gaming for me. The group was great and I learned a lot not only about playing, but how to DM effectively as well. Our DM, Rob really worked hard on our adventures and he ran a very cinematic game. But, as these things do, the group ended. I really wanted to play more D&D 4e but the group was moving on to Savage Worlds.

During this D&D campaign I was relentlessly tweeting pictures and descriptions of our games. I found out that some local friends were quite jealous of my being able to play, and if a seat was ever open….? That seat never opened up in our game, but as noted, I really wanted to play. Over time I came to realize that the only way I was going to play more 4e was to run a 4e game. But that seemed like so much work and I had so much doubt that I could do it. But my desire to play only grew. Sure, I could run some delves for the boys, but that just wasn’t the same. So after a couple of months, I took the plunge.

I reached out to the friends who had expressed so much interest and they immediately jumped on board. It’s a great group of people from diverse backgrounds who share a common interest in D&D (and for the most part craft beer, a story for another day). Bi-weekly games don’t work for our group. We have tried to commit to playing once a month. Two games in it’s gone really well, better than I expected. Our next game is in just a few weeks and I really can’t wait.

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In which I contemplate a new acquisition

I used to travel quite a bit for my job, at least 2 weeks a month for 3 or 4 days a week. Business travel is a mixed bag for me. It is nice to see new places but I usually don’t have (or don’t make) the time to actually enjoy them. What I don’t like though, is being away. Being away from my family, being away from my bed and being away from my hobbies.The good news is, as I’ve risen through the ranks (leveled up?) I’ve gained the ability to control and limit my travel. Which leads to the topic of this blog post.

This week, I learned that I’m going to be working on some additional projects. It’s a good thing,but it will mean more travel, especially at the beginning. So as I’m sitting there with my boss, discussing this, one thought randomly enters my mind: “I’m going to need to buy a good gaming laptop.” And as this pretty important conversation goes on, my mind keeps circling back to this gaming laptop: “What kind should I get? How expensive will it be? Will my wife mind? How stupid is this? Get out of my head stupid gaming laptop!” Fortunately, I was able to push this thought back and really focus on the conversation, which turned out pretty well.

So why do I “need” a gaming laptop anyway? You see, I’ve played City of Heroes with roughly the same group of people every Wednesday night since the summer of 2007. Back when we started I was traveling more, but I had a laptop that could handle the game. Those days are long past. And I really like playing with this group. It’s probably the longest sustained geek/nerd gathering in my life. while I’ve never met any of these people in real life I consider them good friends. It’s not something I want to give up on. It’s my version of Bowling League night or the group I golf with every Saturday. And y’know, I get to pretend to be a superhero. How cool is that?

This whole situation is a great example of how bifurcated my life is. Banker by day, geek by night. When people find out what I do (banker guy) they think that’s who I am. They fit me into a neat little mold of who I should be. But I’m not that guy. Don’t get me wrong, I am very good at what I do but given infinite resources, I wouldn’t do it. What I love is games, comics and science fiction. That’s who I am and I think that explains why my thoughts wandered where they did. It’s a great opportunity for me but I’m always going to view it in terms of who I am and how it impacts my passions. I’m OK with that.

So, I’m going to wait and see how this thing plays out at work. And I guess I’m going to start pricing gaming laptops. They can’t be that expensive, can they?