Saturday, March 15, 2014

Endings, Beginnings - Continued (Part the Second)

Chirine's astrolabe.
(Kindly ignore the Post-it notes, please.)

As I mentioned in the last installment of this essay, I get a little reflective and philosophical about this time of the year. This past year, I've been ruminating about what amounts to a form of 'culture shock' - both for me and for what seems to be quite a few people I talk to.

I'm not a 'gamer'. None of the old original Thursday Night Group were 'gamers'. We were F/SF fans, artists, writers, and a model-builder. We split off from the original group of gamers that Phil had specifically because we were not 'gamers'; we wanted to explore Phil's creation, and so we went off on adventures and quests so Phil could tell the stories that he wanted to tell. He "made stuff up, and we had fun."

Certainly, we did some dice-rolling along the way, and we did some stuff with sets of rules. They provided the framework for our adventures, just like how the electronics in your monitor make my words appear on a glowing screen. We didn't worry about how the monitor worked; it was 'new technology' for us, and we simply went along with it. We didn't do a lot of 'critical peer review' of how Phil saw his Tekumel working; we accepted it as a given, I suspect because we were more concerned with staying alive then anything else.

Along the way, we'd ask questions to clarify what we were doing - not so much from the standpoint of 'wanting to get it right', but much more from the standpoint of 'oh, isn't this interesting!' Phil used to delight in showing off artifacts from his collection as a way of showing us what he thought his Tekumel looked like; swords, shields, maces, helmets, armor, clay jugs, flutes, reed pens, and all the other bric-a-brac of daily life in his world made their debut on the game table over the years and we 'ooohed' and 'aahhed!' more then a little bit. I still continue that tradition of 'play style'; very early on in my time with Phil, I started to pick up stuff that I thought that Chirine would be carrying around on his travels. I had a lot of fun lugging all of this out to show Phil, and he got a lot of amusement out of Chirine's assortment of baggage. (It was one of the things behind that amazing magical artifact, "The Inexorable Cart Of Chirine ba Kal".) Over the years, I managed to find just everything needed for gracious living 'on the road' in Tekumel, and it's all packed away in Chirine's travelling chests.

Over the years, quite a few of the 'real gamers' that I have talked to have had trouble understanding why we thought that this kind of thing was fun; our costumes, for example, have been cited (on the forum of 'RPG pundit', for example) of 'What's Wrong With Tekumel' and an example of why we're considered a "freak show" for what we've been doing for the past thirty-some years. We've been called quite a few uncomplimentary names over the years - those folks like Kathy Marshall, Jim Danielson, Rick Bjugen, and my humble self who did their best to explore Phil's world and try to share it with you.

Well, you know, everyone is entitled to their own opinion - something I firmly believe in. But it's also why I don't spend a lot of time on the Internet forums; I can either spend my very limited free time there, listening to some very rude people, or working on the various projects that I have in hand. I choose the latter; this leaves me, of course, stuck in the same little cul-de-sac that I have been in since 1976. I have to admit that I do like it here; it's quiet. I do have some company; but they are polite people who don't worry about the Dire Menace of 'Fake Nerd Girls!' and the Destruction Of The Hobby. We just do out thing, and have fun.

If you want to come along for the ride, you are welcome to; just don't expect a lot of tables, algorithms, and dice rolls...