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What Were We Thinking?

By Jeff Freeman

c/o ack@rpg.net

September 8, 1998


Can you believe how much time we wasted playing, of all things, Dungeons & Dragons?

Sure, it was fun and all. Crawl through the tunnels, kill the monsters, get the gold. Then there was the ritualistic goat sacrifice, dancing naked around the campfire, reciting bible verses in reverse and chanting Hail Satan!

`Cause it was just that kind of game.

And to finish it all off, we'd then go on a murderous rampage, kill our pets, our parents, our friends and ourselves.

Although I never personally saw any of that stuff happen, I know it's true, because I read about it in Newsweek. And saw it reported on Geraldo. To say nothing of 20/20, the local newspaper and several issues of Christianity Today.

And now I realize what a huge waste of time this was. Such a pointless exercise and, in any case, a lot less fun that what we could have been doing.

Vampire, for instance. And even Magic: The Gathering. Now those people are having some fun. They're having a lot more fun that just another boring old virgin sacrifice, I can tell you that.

Mostly because a virgin sacrifice is always a hands-off, look-but-don't-touch sort of affair. By definition.

This isn't just a `grass is always greener' observation on my part, either. I know for a fact they're having more fun. I read it in the `paper. Not a tabloid paper, either. A *real* newspaper. So it must be true.

They're having sex.

Yep, can you believe it? Where we were chanting reverse hymns to Baal, they're having sex cults.

In hindsight though, it's probably not our fault. For the most part, we couldn't even get girls to look at us, let alone play Dungeons & Dragons. Having sex was right out.

Did ya make your saving throw versus teen pregnancy? I know I did. I mean I almost made a saving throw versus premarital sex altogether. That's just how cool I was.

I go to the game shops and look around.

There's a group digging through umpteen million World Of Darkness books. Some of them are female. I think. Hard to tell, really. But they are all weird looking. Which is to say, they are fashion-conscious and I, on the other hand, haven't got a clue how to dress myself anymore unless I'm wearing the Corporate Uniform. They are the ones that, according to the news accounts, play a little Vampire or Magic or whatever, eat pizza, and then have some sex. Maybe not in that order.

Then there's the AD&D people. They are either a little younger or a lot older, a little less fashion-conscious, or even (for that matter), just less self-conscious altogether. I didn't know anyone *made* striped-pants, but I am pretty sure they don't go with plaid shirts. Anyway with that latest supplement their half-drow warrior-mage will finally be able to hit level 963, kick the crap out of all the deities and then become the One True God. Not sure where the campaign goes from there, but I'm sure there'll be a supplement out to cover it. Then they eat pizza and play heavy metal music backwards.

Ha. Just kiddin', of course. Does anyone even remember heavy metal music?

Here's a `traditional wargames' section, meaning all this stuff is out of print. If you can call one little shelf with three boxes on it a `section'. Whatever happened to that hobby, and why didn't anyone tell these dinosaurs that it's over!? They might as well be shopping for POGs.

The new wargamers are playing ultra-complicated stuff from FASA. You use a 1040-HUH? tax form instead of a character sheet. I have to wonder, if they could buy this stuff somewhere else - and not rub elbows with the roleplayers - wouldn't they?

Bad enough I have always had to shop for RPGs in stores full of comic books, now I also have to push past the action figures. *Action figures*!? Sci-fi books, comics, RPGs and wargames all under one roof, I can understand. But what the heck is the deal with all these action figures? What do they have to do with anything?

I bought the entire set of Final Fantasy VII action figures. I even had to special-order one.

They're for my kids, okay?!

Still, standing at the counter with my little plastic dolls trying to decide whether I want the "AD&D Core Rules on CD-ROM", I can't help but glance back to the crowd of vampire players and wonder why I never got to have any sex. That one girl looks kinda cute.

At least I think it's a girl.

Do you *have* to be such a... gamer (for lack of a kinder word) to play RPGs? My bartender used to play. I showed him some of my Ack! columns (in hard-copy, for the net-challenged) and he Got The Jokes. `Showed them to all his friends. They used to play too.

But he's one Cool Guy. Evidence: He's a bartender, a kickboxer and he plays lead guitar in one of those rock bands the kids all like so much these days. That's pretty freakin' cool. I mean, unless he becomes an astronaut or disk jockey, he just can't get much cooler than that.

But he never got into the devil-worshipin' stuff either, and apparently (so far as I can tell) had no real need or use for a sex cult.

Well, except lead guitarists are already sort of doing a sex-cult thing, aren't they?

Occasionally people that used to play RPGs "a long time ago" think they might like to give it a go again. I just wonder what my response would be if this guy asked to play. It would ruin my image of him, to imagine him dashing around as an elf. "Now I cast magic missile!" Ack!

My response would have to be "Shouldn't you be having some sex somewhere?"

I asked White Wolf and Wizards of the Coast about the sex-cult allegations. White Wolf just said, "No comment", but Wizards' felt prompted to enlighten me with the reply: "No Comment."

Well, *I* have a comment.

People that have no social life to speak of and are so desperately in need of a hobby should try playing RPGs to pass the time - instead of making up wacky tales about what "all us gamers" are supposedly doing.

Comments? Try ack@rpg.net

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What do you think?

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All of Jeff Freeman's Acks

  • The One True Way to Roleplay, Online: July 20, 1999
  • What Were We Thinking? September 8, 1998
  • Random Thoughts August 9, 1998
  • Run With It! July 14, 1998
  • Background: I'm Evil! June 9, 1998
  • Who Wants to Role-Play? May 12, 1998
  • Playing Without Brains Apr 8, 1998
  • Ultima Online Looked Good Off March 10, 1998
  • The Perfect Game February 10, 1998
  • "INTRO TO RPGs" January 6, 1998
  • "Do I Have A Point?"
  • "LOOK BEFORE YOU LARP" November 11, 1997
  • "RPGs: Then and Now" October 7, 1997
  • Chicks in Gaming", September 9, 1997 (and its Danish translation)
  • The FUDGE review that inspired it.

    Other columns at RPGnet

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