Kickstart the Game – Love’s Labour’s Liberated

Check out Leland Beauchamp’s, Egg Embry’s, and John McGuire’s 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Zine!

You just never know how something is going to be received. How something may or may not connect with someone else. Or even whether or not the right people will see the thing that you’ve created.

The first part of it is in the creation… the idea. Then you have to do the work and get it out there. And then you have to try and spread the word as best (or better) you can.

And then, when it is all said and done, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.

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So I am a part of a new Kickstarter:

Love’s Labour’s Liberated.

You can check it out here.

We launched this past Friday and through the weekend were a quarter of the way to our goal.

Launching a Kickstarter means that I get to relive that month of periodically checking to see if anyone else had pledged anything in the last five minutes since the last time I checked the page. ūüôā

This project is apart of Kickstarter’s ZineQuest¬†that they are promoting. Basically, they are harkening back to a time where you ordered newsletters from the backs of magazines in an effort to connect with other people, get news that no one else would know, or maybe even new games that someone had created in their basement. You were in a little community.

Of course, in today’s internet world, pretty much any information you’d ever want is right at your fingertips. Do you want to know how to cook a particular dish? No going to the cookbook, just go to Youtube and watch someone walk you through it. Need to know who else was with the Spartans when they held the Hot Gates against Xerses? Just a click away.

This Kickstarter is much more do it yourself. It’s black and white. Approximately 36 pages. And it will be focused on something Egg Embry, Leland Beauchamp, and myself are all interested in: roleplaying the things that happen in between you blowing up things with your fireball spells.

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Throughout the various roleplaying games that I’ve taken part of, the moments that stick out the most are when the characters really come to life. Normally that isn’t because they killed a bunch of goblins. No, it was because they connected to something within the story. They connected to the characters the Game Master had created in order to try to ground the players to the world. At the core of it all is this connection to Love.

It could be as simple as saving your lost love from the clutches of the evil wizard. Or seeing the loss of a character and wanting to make things better. It’s not about saving the world but instead becomes saving someone’s heart.

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Image by Rick Hershey. Modified by Egg Embry.

And then there is Chivalry. I like the idea of someone who stands for something bigger than themselves. They have an honor they hold up to show others. It isn’t easy in the games either. A good Game Master is going to put you to the test to see whether you break some truth you claim to have.

The knights of the story books. The ones who go on quests for king and country. Who do their best to make the world around them a little bit better by defending those who can’t defend themselves.

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Leland had a character in one of our campaigns in college that was maddening in how he played her. Aurora was an Enchantress who almost never cast any spells. She never needed to. He’d have them prepared, just in case, but time and time again situations would come up and he’d find a way around using his powers. After a while I think it became a little mini-game of his to see if he could get through a session without casting magic.

That’s the type of wizard I want to play, someone who is looking at all the angles and making sure they have exhausted every other option before falling back on their abilities.

That’s the type of wizard we want to introduce in the Zine.

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You never know who is going to potentially read your work. But you hope that someone might read through our Zine and get a little idea here or there to introduce into their own games. Maybe they see a potential angle they never really explored before.

I hope you take the opportunity to check out the Kickstarter.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here¬†to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum РA Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

10 Things I Miss Most About Role-Playing

It’s no secret.

I can pretend to be a sports-loving, cave-dwelling, meat-eater.

But it wasn’t always so.

Once, long ago, I dwelled in the lands of swords & sorcery. At the tender age of eleven, my uncle passed along a set of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books, and I was hooked.

Every dorky image you’ve seen of role-players on the internet…they were me. Every nerd stereotype, I conquered.

And no, I don’t care. I loved every¬†second of my dice-rolling origin story.

Here’s the ten things I miss most about role-playing back in the day:

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The Clatter of Dice on the Table

As a little kid, I thought dice were six-sided and used only by gamblers in the seediest corners of Vegas. Who knew they came in¬†such¬†a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and colors? My favorite set was sparkly green. And damn, that twenty-sided die rolled more 20’s than should’ve been legal. As a game master,¬†I crushed many players’ dreams with my dice. Just ask Egg Embry, king of role-playing wanna-lancers.

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Role-Playing for Days Without Stopping

When we played, we played. No tiny two-hour sessions for us. My little group of four would sometimes convene on a Saturday afternoon, head down to the basement, and emerge late Sunday night. No, we didn’t have girlfriends. Yes, we had more fun than everyone else on the planet. Sometimes, if my entire crew wasn’t available, I’d run a session with two guys, then head over to the third player’s house and game until the wee hours.

Pure. RPG. Heaven.

*

Creating Art for the Game

Some D&D players show up with the simple goal of advancing their character and hoarding treasure. Not our group. We created worlds, and we lived inside them. To aid the process, some of us created art to support our fantastical visions. Hell, I bought a giant art book and populated it entirely with drawings, sketches, and hand-painted maps. Did we take it too far? Nah. Instead of watching movies, we directed our own stories inside our minds.

The Underhollows – A painted scene from our campaign.

*

Eating Pizza & Drinking Mountain Dew

If I ate today like I ate back then, I’d be 300 lbs. Fortunately, the body of a fourteen-year old is resilient. We chugged gallons of carbonated sugar water and ate boxes upon boxes of Little Caesar’s pizza.

…and we didn’t gain a damn pound.

More importantly, the caffeine we imbibed fueled¬†our bodies¬†better than a thousand Haste potions. If we’d have had an IV, we could’ve stayed awake for weeks at a time, rolling dice and avoiding life beyond our basement.

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Painting Miniatures

Nowadays, my young son plays with the remnants of what was once a mighty lead-pewter army. He doesn’t know about the hundreds of hours involved in painting and perfecting thousands of his¬†tiny miniature monsters. He doesn’t really care.

Honestly, we didn’t really need the miniatures to play our style of game. Most of the fun lived in the actual¬†painting. It’s not like video games, in which everything is programmed for you. When you take the time to add color and life to¬†your very own¬†miniature character, it becomes¬†something sacred.

And ‘effing badass.

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Creating New Worlds

The guys (and gals) who participated in my campaign won’t ever know the work I put in behind the scenes. I didn’t just design simple treasure hauls. I invented a universe, and I loved every minute of it.

I probably should’ve been studying for school.

Nah.

In folders ancient and dusty, I have hundreds of maps, sketches, character drawings, stories, and massive overarching plot outlines. I planned our game sessions well in advance, carefully constructing multiple scenarios to accommodate whatever crazy choices the players might make.

Some of those sketches and outlines, I turned into fantasy novels later in life. Others remain in hiding, likely never to see daylight again.

Sniffle…

*

Drawing Dungeon Maps

Along with world-creation came the fun (though often tedious) job of mapping out dungeons.

Take a left turn, fall into a pit of spikes.

Go straight, fight a pack of bloodthirsty Necrophages.

Head down the stairs, prepare to meet your doom.

Armed with reams of graph paper and a knack for being cruel to my players, I designed dozens of dungeons. Some were simple. Others were bottomless. Several were never traversed, and still lie hidden, chock full of gold (and death.)

Think this is complex? You ain’t seen nuthin’, rookie.

*

Seeing the Joy on Players’ Faces

For as insidious as I tried to be, I genuinely wanted my fellow gamers to succeed. After all, I’d laid the trappings of an epic world, and if the players’ characters died, they’d never have¬†the chance to explore it.

They’ll never know it, but I loved it when they outsmarted me.

And when they reached the end of a plotline, it felt like we finished one movie in a thrilling series.

Only…instead of having to wait a year for the next installment to arrive, we simply kept playing.

It’s like leveling up in a video game, only a million times more euphoric.

*

Creating New Characters

In our deep, dark basement (or my dad’s musty living room) I sometimes wonder how many new characters we made. For us, making a new character wasn’t just writing statistics down on a sheet of paper; it was more about inventing a new persona. If the idea behind role-playing is to escape our mundane reality for a while, then there’s no greater method than to step into the mind of someone else.

Elves. Dwarves. Cantankerous old wizards. Midget lizard-folk clerics. Whatever floats your boat.

We played ’em all. Some died. Some lived. Some went down in infamy.

But all will be remembered.

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Storytelling

Ultimately, gaming (at least the way we did it) isn’t about rolling dice, collecting treasure, or slaughtering goblins. It’s about creating a living world, not unlike a book, into which one can wander for days on end.

For the players, it’s all about exploration. Discovery. Advancement.

For me, it’s about telling a story. And not just a lonely, beginning-to-end tale, but a flexible, ever-changing universe.

Like the butterfly effect, one motion by one player can change everything.

Sigh…

I only wish we could’ve finished the story. We stopped well before arriving at the end. It’s probably my fault for being long-winded.

Oh well.

If reincarnation exists, I’m coming back as a fourteen-year old dungeon master.

With a shitload of Mountain Dew.

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If you like role-playing inspired stories, go here.

If you like cheesy RPG art, try this.

J Edward Neill