The RPGaDay 2022 'Event' is over and underwhelming is an understatement.
Six questions that amount to 'Tell me about your character'? Three on the RPGaDay Challenge itself, including the gripping philosophical conundrum 'When did you start participating in this'? Really? REALLY? C'mon, put a little effort into it or don't bother.
With the whole RPGaDay 2022 being what it was, I am practically beside myself to post something for this bonus round...
As noted before, I don't like tagging people, so I won't be doing that. I really couldn't even if I did want to in the case of this story as none of the players were close friends of mine and I lost track of them all years ago.
One Saturday when I was in my early 20s, must have been around 1990 or '91, I went to a 'local' RPG Convention in New Jersey. I met some great people, played some great games, and ended up having a conversation on game design, theory, and all the other big life questions with a bunch of people into the late hours. One or two were regular acquaintances, a couple were friends of friends, and a couple were people I'd met that say. One was a woman who...well...instant crush.
Anyway, it got late, a lot later than intended and I was kind of dreading the long train ride into New York City. The nippy Autumn weather was no problem for me but it was drizzling and foggy. I considered calling up a friend who lived in Jersey to see if I could crash there when two of the people I'd been talking with said I could stay overnight in their hotel room if it was cool with the third occupant and I had no issues. It was all good and I slept there that night.
Except I didn't sleep. None of us did. Intrigued by my ideas and approach to gaming from our earlier conversation, my three impromptu roommates wanted me to run them through a short, makeshift session of something. I said sure. Then one of them said, "Hey, we should see if we can get some of the others [from the early conversation group]."
Everyone nodded in agreement and so I said, "Sure. What the heck."
Sometime later, with coffee and snacks, we ended up in a room in the hotel probably used for meetings or as a lounge. I can't recall exactly. I just remember a big room, a couch, some chairs, and a coffee table. Some of use were in our clothes from the day before but I remember Crush Girl was in her PJs.
Here's how the game went down...
Medieval Fantasy. A Dungeon Crawl That Wasn't. I had everybody take a piece of paper and told them to write down their Character's name, a nickname or title, their 'Race', and three things they were good at, one thing they weren't.
Their last task was to come up with a question they wanted to ask one of the other characters. When they were all finished with their PCs, they asked each other one question each. Some of the questions were like:
'How do we know each other?'
'How'd you get that title/nickname?'
'Do you have any hobbies?'
'What Monster scares the bejeezus out of you?'
Finally, I asked them all, 'Why are you doing this? Adventuring is a hard life. Dungeons are freakin' dangerous. Why risk it?' The answer to this formed the key elements that drove the adventure...not the adventure itself. To put it another way, I focused on their personal backstories and their interactions with each other with pit traps and goblin hoards being the framework and backdrop of the game, not the main event.
It blew them away. Many were Anime fans and said it reminded them of their favorite Manga and animated series. It had humor but they also feared for their character's lives. I remember someone saying their cared more about their character here than in the home game they'd been playing in for months by that point.
It felt great to get the praise of course but it was also just a really fun session. It lasted well into the morning and I ended up sleeping three hours and then going to the con for a second day.
If there is any interest, I'll write up the characters as best I can recall them and even a little about the adventure. I'd forgotten about this game for years, decades honestly, only to have it come back to me in a recent conversation with a fellow online regarding great one-shots.
Thanks for checking out the post. Look around the blog and see if there's anything else that might interest you.
Next month...we're going to SPACE...