The Muted Voices of Tabletop RPGs

Role Playing Game K20 DiceRavenCon 2018 has come and gone. It is a convention I quite enjoy for a miriad of reasons, not the least of which is getting to see friends that I rarely see anymore. The con offers the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people (GEEKS FO’ LIFE!!) and expand my suddenly growing professional network of fellow artists and authors. As I sat with my crew of geeks and artists, gamers, writers, and fellow cosplayers, we began to reminisce about how things all began. See, there’s been a shift; a change on the winds of convention camaraderie that was hard to pinpoint at first. But then, it struck, the answer to the ‘why’ we’d all been asking for so long.

Why aren’t the conventions we attend the same anymore? Why do they not have the same feeling of epic awesomeness as before.

Don’t get me wrong, RavenCon was a blast! It is one of my favorite conventions in the VA-DC-MD area, but it is different from what it was when it first started.

The answer: the death of organized gaming.  I know, I can hear you asking “Gaming? Why would that matter? It’s a game!”, and you’d be right, it is a game, but the organized RPGs that were so popular 5-10 years ago now no longer exist. Sure there are things like Pathfinder Society and the new Living Arcanis but the two are mere shadows of the grandeur that once was.

So many of the people I know, the people that I reach out to for ideas and inspirations, all sat around a table with character sheets and dice poised and ready to defend against a larger, fictional threat. And if the threat wasn’t being handled at a face-to-face table, then it was being discussed, in character, on forums that encompassed entire regions. Full novels could, and have, been written about the misadventures of these varied games. The largest of them was Living Greyhawk but it was by no means the only one. Instead of sitting behind a screen, people had a vested interest in the comings and goings of the alter egos and commiserated about their real lives right along side their fictional ones. Families and relationships were built with the people at these tables, in game and out. My own children grew up knowing all of these people and their stories. Those I still see now marvel at how much they’ve all grown because they were part of a community, part of the family.

Ok, so what? Things ended. It’s still a game, isn’t it?

No, it isn’t. It is unyielding inspiration. It is years of story told by many voices, voices that are, sadly, greatly diminished.

I think that is why I keep my fingers glued to the keys and my eyes to the screen. Or rather, one of the reasons. I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil but much of my current work has been inspired by adventures I actually took . I was the bard or the superhero (still am when I can find a table to sit at). I’ve been a spy and a hacker, a vampire, a thief, even a villain. I have walked in the shoes of all the characters I write about outside of my own mind. They’ve interacted with other characters, characters that were the creations of others. It offers a different perspective to writing when you can be the people you write about.

More and more I find myself aching for that kind of camaraderie again, especially when my brain takes a hateful halt to all things creative and I am forced to stare at my boring walls instead of continuing the planned slew of fiction to be published. I need the out, to speak to others in a voice that is not my own and have them respond without them wanting to lock me away in a padded room.

Gaming in a large community like that is as much a part of me as writing. I miss it. And, I am not alone.


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