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Reverend Scott Shafer March 30, 2000

One of the problems with moving from a larger house to a smaller house is storage. The last parsonage that Polly and I were in was huge! This one is much smaller. Its strange, but there does seem to be an inverse relationship between the size of the parsonage and the sanity of the church. The parsonage is smaller...the people are saner...this is a worthwhile trade!

The parsonage is smaller, therefore storage space is much harder to come by. This can make things a bit tougher when you've got stacks of comics, science fiction books, and piles of games. Where do these things go? What gets put away? What gets left out?

The science fiction books were easier, because my new office has some huge shelves. It is a little unusual to walk into a pastor's office and see rows of books by Heinlein, Spider Robinson, and others...but its kind of cool as well. There are two problems with the office though, one of which is that there are slugs and silverfish in the office. Books can become more easily damaged that way. Yet I do feel that my hardbacks and paperbacks are a bit hardier than my comic books and games, therefore the risk of damage is somewhat worth it.

The second problem is the office is in an old house. The church bought this house right before we got here, and put the office in the "new" building. We've got storage space, the Youth room, and our office in an old building that is infested with dust mites. I am severely allergic to dust mites! I tend to take books back and forth between the parsonage and the office...its easier because they're right next to one another.

The comic books were a little bit more difficult. I have all of the hardbacks (Marvel Masterworks, DC Archives, etc.) that I want to have out, but if I put them all out I don't have room for anything else. Every quarter I have to go through these titles and cull them. Placing some of them into some extra comic boxes in the closet. At least in the parsonage there seem to be fewer silverfish and slugs. I still have a pile of books that I will need to get rid of though. Comic books seem almost easier to part with, because I have the sense that if a story is any good it'll eventually be reprinted. Just look at what Marvel is doing now with those phone book sized compilations of classic comics.

The games have been hell. I have arranged and arranged, without figuring what I am doing. When we moved in there were very few shelves. So we went to Lowe's and got these humungous plastic shelves that you'll see in storage buildings. These things are huge! You could put an engine block on them and they wouldn't sag. They do have some disadvantages though, one of which is that they are open on the ends, which means that stuff kind of sticks out at times. The other is that the shelves are gridded and open. This improves air flow, but it means that stuff gets caught sometimes...corners do get dinged up. The shelves are also very wide, which means that I can put two rows of things on each shelf, but what gets put out front, and what gets left behind. Originally I had the shelves sticking out so that I could easily access the front and the back of the shelves, but this took up most of the space in the room.

At the beginning I put a bunch of old West End stuff out front...Star Wars, D6, Torg, Shatterzone, etc. I wanted to put out of print stuff up front, in part because I knew that I wouldn't have to adjust those shelves fro new things, and I also wanted to avoid the temptation of newer games. Delta Green, classic Runequest stuff was up front, with Traveller, all sorts of Chaosium stuff, plus a bunch of independent stuff that has been long forgotten. White Wolf was in the back, and it has stayed there ever since. TSR was in the back, though Alternity and classic D&D have sinced moved up. Steve Jackson Games was in the back, but more on this later.

The first thing that happened was that I found myself having to decide on what game to play for my birthday. This may not sound like much of a decision, but I had not played in years! This was going to be my present, so I started racing through games deciding what we should play. GURPS was dismissed quickly, as was In Nomine...there was no way in Hell I was going to explain that to parishioners. I thought about Star Wars, but I wondered if it was just too old. Alternity was considered, but I felt that it would be too complicated. I wanted to do a Fifth Cycle game. The mechanics are clean and well-thought out. It's out of print, but if this game was going to be a one shot...who cared?

Earthdawn seemed kind of nice as well, but its mechanics seemed kind of bothersome to deal with. Original D&D looked kind of good. Running "B2: The Keep on the Borderlands" sounded kind of neat, but I wanted to do something new. Heavy Gear was looked at, and Delta Green...but I finally settled on Fading Suns, 2nd edition. This game could do the fantasy angle, the post apocalypse stuff, science fiction, and a Cthulhu type of horror. I even had cool deck plans from Noble Armada to use. Now throughout this process I was sorting through stuff, moving things from the front to the back. Fading Suns became very prominent. Any science fiction stuff moved from the back to the front, though classic D&D remained up front.

The second thing that happened was that we continued to play after my birthday. We ran through Alternity/DarkMatter/Delta Green stuff, mixing and matching stuff...until I found the grail on the web! A grail that was found through this very web site. A Star Wars Episode One sourcebook online! That settled it! We were playing Star Wars! And there is not a better drop dead simple game to start on the market...from character selection to play...3 minutes! After a while I got tired of Jedis having so much trouble getting their lightsabers going...so I switched mechanics to the Marvel Superheroes SAGA system. Kenneth Hite's "Out of the Box" column on Mania gave me the idea after he had an enlightening column about what Wizards was going to do with the new Star Wars license. So these things all crept forward on my shelves.

Then I got back on line...and this has changed some things. I have a big shelf right beside my computer desk that has 5 shelves on it (6 if you count the dusty old top). One shelf has all of my big graphic novels on it, and I put all of my trade paperbacks that I haven't read yet on another shelf. Its kind of a holding pattern before I figure out where they go on my other shelf. And I have three shelves to put games on that I want immediate access to. Last week, before I was online...those shelves were filled with Call of Cthulhu, Alternity, Blue Planet, Heavy Gear, Fading Suns, Star Trek, and Star Wars. These are the basic games I was looking at and playing. Now those shelves have changed again...

Am I insane? Am I some kind of promiscuous gaming slut? Well, that indeed might be the case...but I've been that way for a long while. The biggest difference between this week and last has been getting on line. And getting online has changed everything!

The shelves now contain GURPS, In Nomine, and Traveller...plus whatever else Steve Jackson has published before June of last year (I've got a lot of catching up to do). I put them close at hand, because hands down Steve Jackson Games has the best support on the net for their games...ever! TSR has a few cool things, including a great martial arts game, but its updated so infrequently. Last Unicorn Games has some online stuff, but its online catalogue of things is nowhere near as diverse as Steve Jackson's offerings. Everyone else seems to be dabbling on the net, but Steve Jackson has a huge and well put together presence on line. TSR, when they put their minds to it, produce the nicest looking stuff in our market. Pagan Publishing produce the best stuff our market has ever seen...but it takes a long time to get their stuff out.

I look at Steve Jackson Games, and I can nit pick and find fault with this and that about his games...but the net stuff adds a whole new dimension to his product catalogue. Well, if we were talking baseball I would say that Steve Jackson Games hits for average, but not power. They consistently produce games that I would give a "B," but their online presence pushes their average up to an "A." They now produce Pyramid magazine, The Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society, and even a comic book magazine online.

I want to fit in Alternity, Delta Green, and Fading Suns...but if there's no room on the shelves there's no room. Its amazing how limitations of space, and internet access can focus interest. I can live with GURPS, and I certainly enjoy being online. Its good to be back.

Screaming Jackass

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What do you think?

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