The short answer is: Away.
The longer answer is that I have been doing a number of things pertaining to a) finishing my graduate school and b) hunting for a job. (Still working on the latter, though I have also been volunteering, freelancing, and otherwise doing my best to keep busy while I am on the hunt.)
Some of these things may be of interest to you, Internet, such as the massive project I did on Weird Tales magazine for my rare books class – but that will have to be saved for a day when I have more time to spend typing. 🙂
In the meantime, though, I would like to share with you one of the other things I have been doing while I was away. Brace yourselves, because it is very, very nerdy.
Are you braced? Good. Then here it is:
I have (re)discovered tabletop roleplaying.
People who read Rampant Bicycle in its former incarnation may not be so surprised by this news – I have, after all, been an eager reader and collector of roleplaying sourcebooks for many years. Prior to the fall of 2008, I had only ever played four sessions, however – of D&D 3.5, set in Eberron. (I played a bard. And the DM had to move to Cleveland just as the plot was ramping up and now I will never know how it would have ended. Gyah!)
In the fall of 2008, though, my friend Jonathan rounded up a number of us and said “Hey, D&D is coming out with a fourth edition, and I’d like to give it a try…”
His idea was for a campaign in which all the player characters were teenagers – the youngest 15, the oldest perhaps 19 years old. Sort of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Dungeons and Dragons experience. There would be comedy. There would be angst. There would be strivings against impossible odds and all the other fun stuff that goes along with playing a young hero. We would enthusiastically steal borrow from the great stories we knew and loved, and add our own embellishments as we went.
And we have.
We came up with an interestingly mixed group of characters. My husband plays a human scion of a local noble house, ill at ease with the destiny that birth seems to have laid out for him. (Mechanically, a warlord.) We have an elf ranger (classic, no?) with a terrible case of amnesia, who is slowly unearthing his memories as the campaign proceeds. We have a dragonborn of a most unusual color, who also happens to be a paladin of Bahamut with a uniquely personal relationship to his god. And we have an orphaned brother-sister pair of eladrin (think Tolkien’s high elves or the Fair Folk of Irish lore): the older brother is our wizard, sardonic and aloof, and the younger sister (me) has spent much of her life on the street, doing whatever work she can to help make ends meet. (Yes, she can pick locks. So what? She’s not a thief, thank you.)
Almost two years later, this campaign is still running. One of the characters above has turned out to be married. One has suffered a grievous, disfiguring injury. One has manifested a magical wild talent of which they are still unaware. One is being threatened by mysterious forces from Beyond. One of them has committed adultery. And one may or may not have gone a bit mad.
This is all me doing that thing you’re not supposed to do, of course – one of the great geek faux pas is to ramble on in an overlong sort of way about your characters or your campaign. However, this I will say:
It is a funny thing how one can go a very long time without a certain something in one’s life without really realizing what one is missing. I had gone a very long time without much in the way of creative outlets – I enjoy my knitting, yes, but typically follow patterns, and most of the writing I had done for the last two years was of the very useful but scholarly sort. When I started playing tabletop games again it was as though my eight-year-old self had been sitting in a room on her own for several hundred years waiting for somebody to come along and play with her…and I’d just opened the door, poked my head into the room, and said “Hey. Want to come build a blanket fort?”
Glee and delight all around.
I’m lucky to be in a group of fantastically creative people, all of whom are mature enough to be able to incorporate difficult content into a roleplaying session sensitively. We’re all a bit crazy, and that’s okay. I love my geek friends, and look forward to getting together to roll dice and pretend to be somebody else once every couple of weeks.
In a later post I’ll talk a little bit about why I like fourth edition D&D – and I do like it from a mechanical perspective, quite a lot. For today, though, Internet, I am just going to be completely self-indulgent here and share something else with you…
Our campaign has a wiki. This means that if you are so inclined you can read more about the characters we’re playing – or, if you are feeling truly curious, there is a complete episode guide available where you can read the entire story of the campaign so far in downloadable chunks. (They gave the aspiring librarian with vague writerly leanings the responsibility of keeping the campaign journal. This is either awesome or terrifying or both depending on your inclinations.) Early sessions tend to be a bit patchy in their representation, since I was having to type and play at the same time, and while my typing speed is nothing to shake a stick at it’s just not up to keeping track of the conversation for six – sometimes seven – people. However, by the time you get to around session 16 we have started recording our sessions for later transcription, which means that the quality improves substantially; a typical set of session notes now lies somewhere between a TV script and a novel with commentary.
There be dragons, of course. (Literally.)
More later, but now it is time to go out and buy provisions.