Been gone too long – getting back into roleplaying games (part 2)

Continued from Part 1

So, after being out of it completely for the better part of a decade, I’ve decided that I miss roleplaying games and want to get back into it.

But…how? I’ve made a few acquaintances here in Maryland, maybe even a friend or two, but I’m reasonably sure that not a single one is into RPGs. Heck, I don’t even know where there’s a game store around here. I’m pretty sure that my local Barnes & Noble has rulebooks for a few modern games, but that’s a terrible place to try to network with gamers. What am I going to do, stake out the bookshelves and accost every thirteen-year-old who picks up the Dungeon Master’s Guide? No, I needed more reasonable methods and I’d need to cast a wide net.

Thank goodness for the World Wide Web. It didn’t exist when I was a kid; I’m glad it’s here now. First I tried looking for sites that were made to help roleplayers find each other and found a few. Some look like they never really took off, others like they were abandoned a couple years ago. I picked a few likely candidates, registered, and put my profile out there. It was hard trying to write something that sounded enthusiastic without sounding desperate and “noobish”. Since it seems like D&D is still the biggest and most famous, I figured that would be the easiest to find people for, so I went to Wizards of the Coast’s website and looked through their player classifieds. I found a couple of possibilities and sent out a couple of e-mail messages. The local gaming club was no help, though, as they’re almost exclusively board and war games.

One thing that is making this more difficult is that I’m trying to find people who are like me. That is, people in or near their forties with kids/spouse/home/job/etc. Teenagers and college kids aren’t going to appreciate where gaming needs to fit into my list of priorities and I just don’t see a sixteen-year-old having compatible “roleplaying goals” with me. I remember some of the stuff that I thought was great in the D&D games of my youth and that’s not what I want now. I also know that when I was that age I never would have wanted to dungeon delve with some “old dude.”

Another is that I’m essentially a newbie. Unless I found someone who is playing with a ten-year-old (or older) system, I’m not going to be hip to the lingo. Reading some of the blogs and forum messages out there, I was surprised as to how many terms I didn’t recognize. And this was mostly generic roleplaying stuff, not specific systems.

While I continued to look online for not-too-scary people, I decided to check into my friendly local game stores. I little digging revealed that there was basically one nearby: Brainstorm Comics and Games in Frederick. So, on a recent Monday when I had off from work I stopped in. The guy working the counter was friendly and told me about their 10% discount on RPG books and the bulletin board in the back for people looking for players. Cool! Another avenue. Their selection of RPG books is pretty good, but not extensive. I see my old friend HERO System there, specifically the 5th Edition rulebook. Tempting…but no. I opt to take a chance and get the D&D Fourth Edition Players Handbook.

By now I’m getting some responses to my queries, but not many, and there weren’t that many messages sent out in the first place. One group I heard back from had an opening, but their schedule just wasn’t going to mesh with mine. I heard from another guy who is looking for a game for himself and his brother-in-law and we pledged to keep in touch as we looked. But that was pretty much it. Ugh.

A guy I know in town does a lot of photography and had done portraits of my girls a couple of times now. He also happens to be a ColdFusion developer like me. He’s suitably geeky enough that he probably knows who plays, or at least won’t look at me funny when I ask. Well, it turns out that he hasn’t played since he was 13 years old and would love to start it up again. Cool!

Then there’s a guy I work with, also suitably geeky, and we share a lot of the same taste in our reading material. I told him about what I was doing and he also expressed an interest. Meanwhile, the photographer asked his fellow photography club members if anyone was interested and got a bite.

Wow! Sounds like we have a good core to start with. We should all get together face-to-face and discuss what we want to do. Some people like more combat, some people like really delving into their character, some people think die-rolls are sacrosanct, some people don’t mind a little fudging if it advances the story, some people think character death should be avoided at all costs. There are lots of ways gamers may be incompatible. Besides, before any of us starts inviting people to his house, we really want to ensure we don’t get too weird a “vibe” from them.

Needless to say, we’ve spent several weeks trying to find a time to sit down for an hour or so to sit down and talk about what we want to get out of the game that fits on all our schedules. It’s been nigh impossible. We think, though, we have a date settled. Unfortunately, it’s still over a week away and I have to bring my kids along. I’m not surprised, though I thought I’d be playing by now.

Part 3 will be the outcome of that meeting.


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Geek. Gamer. Dad. Husband. Beer drinker. Football fan. Blogger.

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