Thursday, August 11, 2016

RPGaDay 11 -- Gamer Who Had the Biggest Effect

I do not know the gamer who had the biggest effect on my current gaming approach.  I believe it was at the Origins game fair in 1993 that I had a short DnD session that would preview what I look for in games today.  To that point, I had played games relatively by the book (as if the book was definitive) and had the typical antagonistic relationship between players and the DM -- that is, I saw the DM as trying to defeat the players.  The players were trying to defeat the DM as constrained by the module.

I had limited experience with any players outside of my social circle.  I had played in a tournament a few years before in Dallas.  I think I made it to semi-finals with my friend making it to finals.  It was fun and I looked forward to playing in the "big time" games of the traveling Origins show because it happened to be close to my home that year (the show was in Fort Worth).

While I was there, I signed up for a one-shot Dark Sun game.  I liked Dark Sun.  Playing a bunch of thri-kreen sounded great.  I had no idea what the game would be like.  The entire session consisted of trying to make it across the desert with, maybe, one combat encounter.  This was unlike any session of DnD I had ever played.  The DM let us interpret our abilities however we wanted to help us survive the harsh environment.  The DM was not our opponent -- he was our guide and our colleague.  Together we were telling a story.  I remember specifically using my "shadow manipulation" psychic power to provide shade.  I later looked up the power and it is WAY out of scope of that power.  It did not matter though.  It was fun in that session.

I did not really know how to understand the session.  I went off to play in another open tournament.  I think I got our party killed (or largely maimed) in that tournament.  I struggled to describe the Dark Sun session to my friends.  I could not describe what monsters we fought or what wondrous items we acquired.  I just talked about the fun we had reinterpreting powers and struggling, together, to survive the harsh Athasian sun.  

Years later I understand what I had experienced and why I had enjoyed it.  I liked the cooperative approach to DMing and the agency I had to shape my character.  I felt a part of the story - not like the story was something happening to me.  To this day, the memory gives me permission to obey "the rule of cool" and let players do what they want as long as it improves everyone's fun.

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