Table Top Role Playing Games: How It Began
Purging creativity just to conform to the masses is a bewildering state of mind. The truth is, I had already become that person. My teenage years were spent as a high school athlete basking in the world of the popular and accepted. It was the small group of friends who reserved a table in the far corner of the cafeteria that attracted my attention. Watching subtle glances being exchanged with the mysterious group, was a daily occurrence. What are they? It was a question that sometimes lingered in my mind. As it turned out, I knew most of their names and what classes they were in. But who were they really? The far table was a part of a societal hierarchy reserved for the strange and undesirable. It is unknown, however, that the table was reserved for a tight-knit gathering of friends. Interestingly enough, they kept a secret hidden from our mundane and banal lives.
It was a day that will live in my memory forever. On the day I discovered tabletop RPGs. I met my future friend in typing class when I was fifteen. Despite sitting next to him since the beginning of the year, I had not spoken to him more than a handful of times. Additionally, he was part of the undesirables at the far table. So, on that day, I watched Roger fumble around with a couple of warrior miniatures that he clung onto. My interest was piqued when I saw the miniatures of fantasy warriors. He handed them to me one by one. Roger was compelled to introduce the warriors, he told me their names and where they came from. Being a part of the mundane and banal, I didn’t recognize the created world. In an attempt to recruit me to his guild of friends, Roger invited me to play Dungeons and Dragons. In spite of the friendly exchange, I found myself snickering with nervousness. Despite his offer, I politely declined, returning the miniatures back to him.
Throughout the remainder of the school day, I contemplated the invitation. The burdensome thoughts continued into the late night, where I eventually fell asleep feeling the attraction of playing a table-top RPG (Role Playing Game). This sleepless night was not due to worrisome thoughts about the soccer game this Sunday or the football game the following Friday. Instead, I wondered what kind of game made such a tight-knit group cloak their conversations from the roaming nomads outside their circle.
One must understand, in the 1980’s, RPG games were shunned by society. There have been many news reports about people committing suicide and self-injuring, as a result of playing Dungeons and Dragons. With the use of spells and alternate forms of deities, religion viewed the game as an attack to one’s moral compass. In the days when the super highway was an idea instead of something we used every day. My knowledge of table-top RPGs was limited. However, my curiosity tortured my adolescent thoughts while I was drawn to a game regarded as awkward in society.
Tired and pondering, I trudged through the day. Like a virus devouring my body, I couldn’t get rid of my wanton desire to play Dungeons and Dragons, and I didn’t understand why it tethered to my mind. Once again, we are in typing class. My soon to be friend, Roger was spinning tales of the last role playing gathering the past weekend. If I had any doubts about joining the quest, his alluring pitch convinced me otherwise.
The anticipated night had arrived. An assembly of the unique in appearance and charisma, lay before me as I entered the front door of Roger’s house. Like a tightly knit guild, I was marched through the gauntlet of stares and smirks. I felt my welcome was edgy at best, for I was invited into a gathering of friends that kept a revered circle of love that is not easily explained. A love for a mysterious game. It was a brandishing ring of gold that surrounded these four teenagers. I was a novice presence, mingling with the astute in the art of world creation and lore development. Being safe, I chose a hapless warrior as my first character. Nervous, I found myself intimidated by the bulky game manuals and the rules within the tabbed pages. Through my body, I felt a sense of pressure and intimidation. Additionally, I felt a responsibility to not disappoint the gathering of the unique. In the next eight hours, we developed new friendships and enjoyed non-stop entertainment. Having bloodshot eyes and a gleaming smile, I made my way back home, looking forward to the next gathering. It was that memorable night that my mushy mind of the mundane, had just discovered tabletop roleplaying.
In a perceived normal life, the journey of a child to a man comes with trials and tribulations. In the world of RPGs, I went from being a lone warrior, fearful of the unknown, to creating a vast world and entertaining modules. Over several years, Roger and I created an alternate world with unique characters and intriguing lore. I found myself deeply involved.
A Nasty Little Secret
Leaving behind my youth, Roger found his way through life. I found myself seeking my path when a discovery was made. In every place I went in life, there was always a tight-knit group of people who dabbled in tabletop roleplaying games. While I lived in Europe, I met countless people who shared a gathering, but with the addition of adult beverages. As time passed, it dawned on me that being popular and accepted was a minority in the realm of personal interaction. It was they who were the outcasts, not the tight-knit gathering.
It is Science! Baby!
What attracted me to tabletop RPGs was always the question: why was it so addictive? I could cut and paste a detailed report from a psychologist, but I prefer to shake it out of the tree myself. Reading books from respected phycologists, I know that creativity helps people deal with uncertainty. A creative mind decreases negative emotions. Entertainment is desired by humans for many reasons. Many in the scientific community believe that humans need something to combat the daily stressors.
In my experience of creating and acting, I’ve found that releasing a character’s potential and building great friendships had the biggest impact on my life. RPGs unlock the creative pathways in your brain. A tabletop experience knows no boundaries of race, religion, or gender. Your mind is emboldened with unlimited potential. Human nature is about how one presents themselves to the world as relevant. RPGs are the essence of finding relevancy in a game. There are no other games with such appeal. RPGs are great for developing a community, which is why they make for a great gathering.
The following is an online author interview about the author and his book.
How did you get into writing?
For an escape from reality, I enjoyed playing role-playing games and reading fiction novels in my youth. When I was a young soldier in the U.S. Army, I spent countless hours reading fantasy novels. After a while, I found myself dabbling in a variety of humanities. Eventually, I became that person who tries every creative process at random. In my current career, I formed the alternative rock band Wall of Fiction with a few of my peers. After a couple of albums and a few performances for pure amusement. I then asked myself, would it be difficult to create a movie. I decided to make a short film called “The Gathering.” Yes, the blueprint for the novels. I discovered the difficulties and logistics involved. In the end, the project never came to fruition. As I grew older, I wanted to leave my grandchildren something. The idea of writing a trilogy or series based on fantasy fiction came to me. As a result, I created the series “The Gathering.” Most of the ideas for “The Gathering” came from modules or adventures I created while playing RPGs through the years. I wanted to create something that my grandchildren could enjoy when I have passed from this earth to the next. As a result of the writing process, I have grown to love the art of creative writing, and I plan to write more novels after this series.
How did you come up with the book title?
My mind was filled with several ideas. On my mental cork board were pinned several modules I played or developed. Then it hit me. As I was imagining the story, I began to realize that the characters were gathering in some way. When I reminisced about my youth, playing Dungeons and Dragons or Palladium with my friends, we were the gathering. It was then that I decided my novels would be about people needing each other. All people, regardless of circumstances or talents, need someone or a collective to achieve goals.
Plot and Synopsis:
Interestingly, I let the plot write itself. I’m trying not to sound pompous, but it’s true. As I was writing the first book, I sometimes rolled my DnD dice to see what would happen next in the story. Anyway, the plot begins with an infamous guild of knights who provide fairness and order throughout world of Stelvose. An evil force rises, and the renowned Gallen Heart Knights are betrayed and murdered as a result. Eleven of their twelve enchanted Gallen Heart swords are under the control of the evil scourge. Suddenly, the evil scourge is trying to find the last Gallen Heart sword to control the power over land and people. It is one simple boy who discovers and possesses the last sword; thus, the adventure begins. The reader is taken through the grind of survival as multiple characters face challenges. Only a select few attempt to restore order to the world after it has been thrown into chaos. Within the series, there are several quests that will immerse the reader in different subplots and stories. Ultimately, the survival of the world will depend on the various gatherings within the series.
As the story opens, two young boys, who are the main characters, are at the center. Rondo, a mountain boy, and Vilmare, an elven priest. They come from different cultures separated by oceans and mountains. Not by choice, they are thrust into the chaotic world. They form a friendship that is nearly unbreakable. Throughout the adventure, they learn about the unique characters they meet and the hardships they face for playing such a critical part. Their quest to right the ways in Stelvose is challenged by forces, and they become indispensable figures in the story. There will be many unexpected twists and turns in their quests. It is the young boy who controls the last Gallen Heart Sword that holds the fate of the world.
Some who have read the first book of the series told me it was like a dark version of Harry Potter, while others said it was like LOTR. My influence for the series came from multitude of mediums. Other than my RPG campaigns and modules, my favorite television shows in the 1980’s were part of the influence. I believe the books are more like a cauldron of stew with a pinch of Star Trek, Incredible Hulk, Battle Star Galactica, and Gilligan’s Island.
My goal was to find a concept that my grandchildren could discover as essential to life. As I wrote the story, I included numerous scenes of hardship that made the characters’ feelings gravitate to love and resourcefulness. It is my attempt to take the reader on a journey that shows life is not fair nor is there an unspoken right to be treated this way. Learn to trust one another and maintain that trust within a tight circle. One will have to make imperative decisions for their respected future in the face of many obstacles in the world. What decision will you make?
Stelvose is only an island in a larger world beyond a mist. There are only a few characters who are aware of the world beyond the mist. Gallen Heart Knights are an integral part of the story, according to the way I conceptualized it. The reader will find that in certain kingdoms, a multitude of races will live among each other. This was my intention when I created it. In contrast to a lot of stories set in the fantasy world, orcs and goblins play a crucial role in saving the world from evil. On the other hand, you can find the perceived innocent involved in the demise of the world.
I gradually reveal cultures, norms, and values that are rooted in the respected realms in book 2 and 3. To avoid making the story too black and white, I didn’t want to present an expansive diatribe of cultures. As an example, an orc chieftain may become a savior, and then become the village leader in a predominantly human realm. Developing the foundation of a society was challenging. It was important to me to make the typical historical settings in fantasy books more unpredictable. Throughout the writing process, I made numerous errors that caused me to rewrite my material. Therefore, I sparingly released only samples of societal norms. Plots and subplots are meant to grow enormously in the series. While playing role-playing games as an adolescent, I often found modules with lots of predetermined history to be tedious. The idea may seem odd to some. My goal was not to be thrown into history, but to create it. As I mentioned earlier, I would roll my DnD dice to see what path would be created for societies and sometimes it would challenge the predesigned cultures I initially created.
As part of my writing process, I read a few novels. There would almost be a superhero-like quality to the main character. In my script, the main characters are made more mysterious by embracing a culture of role-playing games. Rather than focusing on hero 1 saving the world, I made the series a development of characters. Again, I must mention that the DnD dice have often decided the fate of characters that seemed unlikely to perish. Honestly, I teetered on this approach, but I was determined to allow the book to write itself.
Video: Beginners Guide to Tabletop RPG
The Quest for the Steel: Book 1
Synopsis: This story was created using the foundation rooted in historical role-playing games that P. Hacker had created or participated in. The story begins with two young boys, Vilmare and Rondo, who are separated by mountains, oceans, and cultures. Our young adventurers find themselves on a collision course with destiny, which will forge a bond that seems unbreakable. But the trials of the world will thrust them into adventure around every corner, character growth under every stone, and perils waiting in the shadows. Which way will the wind blow to guide the young boys on their quest for the salvation of Stelvose? The quest will submerge you into courage, greed, deception, action, and love. Begin your adventure, meet some compelling characters, snuggle up to the possibilities, and immerse yourself into the world of Stelvose. Beware, the story is not for the faint of heart.