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Role-playing games – my escape to sanity (discuss). 30 May 2005

Posted by Dr Moose in Uncategorized.

The problem with blogging, like just about any other activity, hobby or pastime, is the need for discipline. And if it isn’t discipline, then it’s habit – which is arguably the same thing done unconsciously.

At this point I could head off into one of my usual digressions about faith, spirtuality and habit, a rule of life etc. And I’m sure that my two known regular readers would understand that. However, I still hope that I have other readers I don’t know about (such as the mysterious “steve” indicated in my sitemeter!) who might be looking for the “role-playing games” referred to in the title of this blog. And please don’t confuse this role-playing with that dreadful exercise found in in-service training where one of you feels stupid while trying to play out the role of the dis-satisfied customer! People do RPGs because they want to, and usually in a rather more imaginative setting than the Customer Services Department! (Bank Clerk – the Role Playing Game, not!) If you have ever read a book and wondered what it would be like to be the character, or watched a film in frustation at the studity of the actor, then you’re on the right lines.

My last entry, IIRC, was simply titled “Tentacled”; referring briefly to the German Role-Playing Games Convention held in the fantastically located Castle Stahleck overlooking the River Rhine. One hundred and eighty of us in a polyglot gathering of all ages having quality fun. Fun using (and I must admit that others might say mis-using or abusing) the imagination we each posses in a reflection of the greatest worldsmith and imaginer of all.

All sharing in the enjoyment of what is effectively simply being the characters in the story, and, of course, having the chance to change the story on the way. (As an aside: I wonder why whenever I’m writing anything to do with RPGs for an readership beyond just gamers it turns into an apologetic? I shall try to avoid the tendency, but you never know!)

It was my first visit to Tentacles and I had a great time. A little too much beer, rather too little sleep and mixing with some friends I only see once a year or so (even if we communicate by email – loads of Yahoo!Groups and mailing lists, such as the HeroQuest-RPG), bulletin boards (such as The Tavern) and Internet Relay Chat) rather more often!

In fact in many ways the feeling is not too dissimilar to Greenbelt (even if alcohol might not feature quite so highly at GB). A gathering of friends with common interests and, to be fair, a desire to propagate that interest. Just as the church is always one generation away from extinction, so it is with many hobbies – Role Playing not excepted, which it was why it was so good to see a decent age range (and discover that there are gamers younger than me, including Stefan who played in the game I ran who wouldn’t even count as a teenager, but whose English was far better than my Dutch!)

I have always maintained that the secret to being an adult is knowing when you’re allowed to be a child – so I had plenty of opportunities to give the inner child a run around!

And this is where the lack of blogging and Tentacles come together. In my spare moments, and in all honesty quite a lot of moments that were not spare but taking advantage of the broadband internet connection, I have been writing.



Contributing to the collective work known as Gwenthia – an entire gaming setting following in the tradition of Chaosium‘s 1982 publication “Questworld“. From a basic idea by one person we now have a collective of at least a dozen of us, (“The Design Mechanism”) contributing to the two linked continents of Gwailan and Thurian. In addition to attempting to detail the Hegemony of Durustan (my “land-holding”) and all its peoples, culture and the like I have been able to make suggestions about the weather conditions you might expect in the various areas, not to mention even the possible placements of other contintents.

One of the most enjoyable things is the way that we have “created” the history by joining together on-line on Monday nights. Using a simple gaming mechanic (using imgination, logic and a conventional 6-sided dice) we have been discovering the history of Gwenthia. (Now you all know that I’m mad!) What’s the most amusing for me, and both distressing and stimulating for others has been when their long-standing and hard-written creative products have been changed by meddling conspirators’ ideas of history. It has, though, shaped Gwenthia into something far more collaborative, displaying the benefits of synergy as well as the frustrations of co-operative work.

Without the benefits (and occasional frustrations) of Information Technology this would be a much harder task and take an awful lot longer. Much of the current interaction is via a wonderful thing known as a wiki – in effect a multi-user editable web-site. And to return to the Tentacles connection Charlie Krank of Chaosium (complete with a mention in despatches), as well as a goodly number of other folks attended the launch seminar of Gwenthia, which was very encouraging.

And now, I suppose I’d better get on with life. Not that there’s much to do on a damp Bank Holiday Monday.

If you want to be totally confused why don’t you check out what I’ve been prattling on about by looking at the wiki, or even have a working copy for yourself?



1. Anonymous - 31 May 2005

Wow, you really are constructing a world of your own together. I can see the attraction, and admire the patience. Do you plan to dress as Gwenthians and enact battles and things as well?

2. Dr Moose - 31 May 2005

Hello anonymous, glad to know I have (other) readers.

There are some discussions begining on the Tavern (link in body text above) about outlets for Gwenthia. One of them is the idea of a Freeform – more likely to be diplomacy and skulduggery than attempts at combat!), which might be ready for next year’s Continuum Convention in Leicester (28th-31st July 2006).

My contact details are available via the Tavern if you want to continue the discussion – or join us.

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