Reverb Gamers Prompt #1

Atlas Games is doing this thing called “Reverb Gamers 2012”, with 31 question prompts to kick off 2012. I’m going to post one up each day, including weekends, throughout January. I invite you to do the same! And check out @ReverbGamers on Twitter or Facebook.

This may cause me to, at times, break my one-post-a-day rule. Eh, it’s my blog, I can do what I want to. :)

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #1: What was your first roleplaying experience? Who introduced you to it? How did that introduction shape the gamer you’ve become?

My first RPG was in, I think, 1996? I’m not entirely sure anymore, but I’m pretty sure it was when I was 17, so Spring of 1996 is my best guess. Anyway, my friend Frank was doing a birthday shindig, where he and his two brothers were going to play a game, and he invited me to play and crash over.

I had played adventure games before, sort of, in old PC form. I even wrote one that was so large that QuickBASIC (back when you capitalized that, since it’s a fucking acronym[1]) wouldn’t compile it, thus I couldn’t share it with my friends. And I played quite a bit of Talisman as a kid. But never this tabletop thing. In fact, I didn’t really understand this tabletop thing, not really.

When I arrived, after a bit of hanging out, the game was started. It was a one-shot of GURPS Robin Hood. This was back in the GURPS Third Edition days, I don’t even know if Revised, and I know it was before Compendium I (which I fondly remember). I was handed a pregen, shown some mechanics, and we started playing.

I was a timid guy back then, and even moreso out of my element, so I’m pretty sure I let myself get led around by the GM & other players. That was cool, though, as I had a good time. I don’t remember much about it, except one moment that has fixed itself in my mind. I kept doing pretty good with my rolls that night, and I hadn’t had an attack that got through my armor, until the climatic battle. There was a connect, hit location was rolled, and it was my head. My head, encased in a pot helm. One point of damage went through.

The GM, Sasha, described it in celebratory terms. I don’t exactly remember, but it was something like “Yeah, it’s bleeding, but it’s not bad, just a point of damage. And you’ll have a wicked scar.” I remember the scar being celebrated. I remember celebrating it with him.

Not that that’s in the GURPS rules or anything, which I would later look back on and think quite a bit about the role of that empty space in gaming. I have fond memories of that moment, playing that game with Sasha, Frank & John.

As far as how it shaped me? Aside from the obvious “Hi, I’m Ryan Macklin, and you know me because I played this game with three cool guys over fifteen years ago,” the game wasn’t adversarial. I mean, the combats and foes were played like combats & foes should be, but there wasn’t GM dickishness about it. And that hooked me.

If you know me, you know I don’t like adversarial player-GM dynamics in my games. That’s a load of bullshit to deal with. And if my first encounter with gaming had been like that — which my first encounter withD&D was — I would have walked away without looking back.

But it was good, and here I am because of it. Rock on.

– Ryan

[1] My grognard is showing