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Bells & Thistles: Humors and Gaming

The Bald Guy With No Toes

Meera Barry
March 21, 2001

I am looking for a bald guy with no toes to join my gaming group.

Selective criteria, eh? You might not have toes, but if you have hair, you won't make the cut. I'm not asking if you're a simulationist, or a strict Warhammer fiend. (All devotees of Warhammer are fiends. It's a rule. I'd tell you where to look it up, but you'd need artificial lighting -- cause it's in a place the sun doesn't shine.) You have to be bald. I am flexible about "guy." You cannot have toes.

I need a new gaming group. That's really the bottom line.

I like the people with whom I game, although we don't do it enough. (This is a common cry for women of my generation. Get used to it now, save yourself trouble later.)

I like the games we play. I should; I'm the GM most of the time.

I like the people just fine -- they're some of my closest friends.

I just need a change. I need people who will play Amber with me, and no, Katie Karnage games don't count. (That's not Amber, that's diceless splatterpunk superheroes. It's tons of fun, but not meat and potatoes gaming.) I need to get away from some of the in-jokes, breathe some new life into it from new people with new ideas, get some roughage in there and shake up the group digestion a bit.

I need new, less flammable people. (Not that setting my fellow gamers on fire is usually a problem, but just in case, I want to be sure.) [It's also one of those in-jokes that have followed us for four years.]

Myself, I never thought I'd be in this situation. After all, I've had to counsel other gamers about such drastic measures. Normally, it's just one or two people who are making the gaming time miserable. They're tactless or clueless. They're people who usually you'd just cut out except they'll buy the pizza. My friends aren't like that. It's different.

I turned to my husband, the LintKing, and said, "I want a new gaming group."

He looked at me, always the practical one, and asked, "Who?"

Oh, yeah, ask the tough ones.

"Um. We could put up an ad in the hobby shops." I listed off half a dozen places that take little messages. You've probably read them. "Adult AD&D group into B&D, S&S, no halflings, no kenders, no kids." "I'm looking for TrekWarrior Players..." with the rest of the message in some medieval Klingon dialect. "Do you vant to be a creature o'de night? Ve vant yoo if you vear black en sleenky outfeets. Join our LARP oh precious bloodsucking vun..." (Usually with red ink on black paper.)

My husband explains how he answered two ads like that, when he was young, naive, and desperate for a group. At one place, the dog (some sort of wolf hybrid that to this day has biased him against the breed) ate his coat. (His mom remembers this well.) At another, he managed to make a character that broke the rules of the GM's homebrew. He doesn't remember being invited again.

"The worst part about it, is that we're looking for gamers," I explained.

How's that?

"Well, see, there's this guy in the area, does his own homebrew. I remember mentioning that I gamed, and he kind of, I don't know, was creepy. A lot of gamers are that way."

In other words, he couldn't get his eyes off my cleavage. (I could see it flashing through his mind. "A girl! A REAL GIRL!") Despite my husband standing right next to me, looking peeved. Maybe I ought to encourage my husband to bring an axe? One of those nice 9' ones as described in the back of Unearthed Arcana? Of course, those are awkward to peace-bond.

Turns out, we're pretty sure that was the same guy he had met. I think we'll pass.

I could advertise on the web. There are all sorts of "gamer personals."

"Female Married GM seeks robust and good-humoured adventurers to play-test Amber scenarios. You must be decently familiar with the game, and like cats. I'll buy the pizza."

Heck, I DO have an ad up for something like that here at RPG.net.

My husband and I started talking about gamers, and gamer culture, and all the arguments about "the unwashed masses" and how true and untrue it was. I mean, I have unusual prejudice against people who play some games vs. others. I know that not everyone who plays Nightlife is "cool." But I'm biased towards them. I know that not everyone who plays RIFTS should be the distinct target for my raucous laughter. Not everyone who has their own homebrew to publish is a loser even by our standards. Not everyone who plays only LARP is just looking to get laid.

Well, alright, some stereotypes still apply.

Overall, though, it's very disappointing to realize that the two of us, the 'penultimate gamers' of our group, want to disassociate with the term. There have been articles about that before, and that's not the point here. It does, however, add difficulty to finding new people with whom to game.

Let me tell you a little about my location. I live in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. We have (as of the last time I counted) more than four specifically gaming-oriented conventions a year, and at least five others where gaming is welcomed, if not the actual theme. This tells me three things. One, there's money to be made locally on gaming...and, if I need a certain game, I can usually find it. (I am thrilled; I bought more "Kobolds Ate My Baby" games last week. Whoo-hoo!) It also says pretty clearly that there are gamers here. Lots of them.

So what now?

Maybe we could invite some people we know over, peripherally. Some people we know are into gaming.

We have a small house. One wall of our largest room is our RPG wall...and it really is the usual 8 foot-something filled from floor-to-ceiling with RPGs. (It's his collection. I only bought the Shadowrun, really. He's threatened that if we divorce, he'll make sure I have custody of the RIFTS books.) That cuts down on the psychological space.

And then... we have cats. Most specifically, we have Templar. Lapsus Linguae (our other fluffball) isn't a problem. He's only interested in pouncing on red d10s from a seven-foot height. Templar, however, is our black cat. He likes to eat people's hair.

Worse, he likes to chew on RPGs.

And he eats toes.

What do you do when you want to expand your group? I guess you have to schmooze a little. Maybe we should go to one of those conventions I mentioned. (Which would mean we'd have to attend, wouldn't it?)

I can just imagine it now:

"Hi. I'm Meera Barry."
"THE Meera Barry?"
[backing away quickly] "Um, depends on what you mean."

I'm not saying I merit name-recognition status, but I do have the occasional fan. I also have the partner-of-the-guy-I-flamed-and-made-cry-five-years-ago that's a wandering monster for me.

"Hi. I'm Meera Barry."
"No one you've ever heard of. Nevermind."

Not much better, but then again, would I truly rather be infamous?

"Hi, I'm Meera Barry. Would you like to play with me?"

Nahh. No need to look for trouble.

"Hi, I'm Meera Barry. I'm looking for players who prefer narrative mechanics, significant input on cosmologies, with a GM who doesn't do accents or funny voices for her NPCs, but can do a phenomenal job at simulationist resolutions. You can't be allergic or unkind towards cats."

Meanwhile, whoever I'm talking to has gone over to ogle the sleenky black-vearing folks playing some sort of Vampire LARP.

"Hi, I'm Meera Barry."
"You're a girl."
"Yep. Nevermind."

I've been there, done that. [sigh] As I said, that 9' axe is difficult to peace-bond.

I've seen a lot of emphasis put on "gaming group interviews" and contracts and the like. Maybe we should set aside sessions at those local gaming conventions.

"So, what was your last character like?"

I'll doodle a bit, stick the pencil behind my ear, nod a lot. "I see, and, um, what kinds of games do you like to play?" I'll ask, and try not to wince.

"So, how long have you been gaming? Ah-hmm. We'll get back to you. My e-mail will have lunch with your e-mail or something."

I mean, really, how do you do reference checks? "I'd like to see your RPG license, your character identification, and roll against your charisma, too."

I don't want anyone that has "issues." At least not issues with people in my group. I did once have some friends-of-a-friend come over to game who knew someone on the periphery of my group who said, "Ah, you know HIM. HE went out with my sister's girlfriend's best-friend-from-college-who-we-all-thought-was-a-tease's cousin." Or some sort of relationship like that.

(Actually, it couldn't have been that precise. Precision in such relationships belongs to women, according to a guy I used to have a crush on but who I now think has too many "issues.")

There was a fellow and his wife who wanted to join an Amber game in the area. He ended up starting his own, I think... I ought to follow up on those sorts better.

I could PBeM. On second thought, nevermind. I'm too burnt out on that.

(Yes, me, the person who pays with the gold $1 coins (U.S.) so I can think in -- gold pieces' is too burnt out on some forms of gaming.)

I could IRC. I will do it for playtests. I could tell everyone I was the GM, I was female, twentysomething, and lived in the U.S.A. Then we could trade dirty pictures of our favourite Amberites. And beat each other with trout. Or not.

I could grow my own. I'm a girl. I can do that. Of course, it's about 6 years before they can really read the dice and follow the rules... and I don't know if I can wait that long. Besides, all the six-year-old-girls I know want to play lawful good elven dual-class mage-fighters, and name themselves "Rainbow."

What is the lesser of the evils?

I guess next week it's an ad up in the local hobby shops. "Desperate GM looking for a bald guy with no toes. Must like cats, play Amber. Call now." TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

What do you think?

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