"Oh, is that what we say?"
"It's what we say."
"It's been passed on from my GM, and the GM before him."
Thus went the majority of my first foray into RPG-ing. Me asking a lot of questions that the other two guys not only know the answers to but something that is really, as silly as it sounds, part of their core.
I was lucky enough to RPG for the very first time with my husband Jim, and my brother-in-law (my sister's husband) Derek. Derek had been RPG-ing since his freshman year in college, and my husband had always had an interest in it but never really had the opportunity (or the right set of nerdy friends) to play until my sister started Derek dated and they were forced to hang out together, and realized they were going to get along quite nicely. When Derek decided to propose to my sister, Cori we joked about Derek having a pie chart of the reasons he wanted to marry Cori, she was 75 percent of the chart....Jim was the rest.
Oh, what's that? What's RPG-ing?
RPG stands for Role Playing Game, which I assumed was more of a Choose Your Own Adventure type game and it still kind of is, but at it's core it is more of a improve game, sort of. You are given a set of circumstances or a scene presented to you by your GM, Game Master. The Game Master is the person who wrote the game you are playing and they also play characters known as NPCs (non-player characters) who are either secondary to the main action or filler material and is more or less the God of this universe. The game usually exists in a set of rules that is determined by the system which you are playing. For example, World of Darkness equals Modern Day Horror, Dungeons and Dragons equals Swords and Sorcery Fantasy. These systems have rules and guidelines that have already been laid out in published materials, books and so on. This is why RPG lends itself to the creative types, you have a rigid set of rules but you can let your imagination run wild with the story line, characters, etc.
The first thing you have to do before you play is create a character using a old-fashioned piece of paper and pencil. You fill out bubbles with the skills you wish possess (these are not limitless, you have regulations and can only fill out so many bubbles on so many skills) The difficulty of making a character really exists on the difficulty of the system you are playing. Apparently, World of Darkness has fairly easy character creation since I was able to do mine after a glass of wine on my birthday in 20 minutes!
The dice exist primarily to help you determine how successful you will be at an action you are trying to do, from as complex at jumping off a cliff to as simple as having a phone conversation.
LARP-ing is....something we didn't do. Which is sad, because it involves costumes. But, whatever.
Okay, here we go.
Derek wrote our particular game, which was a World of Darkness game. He wrote something that would defiantly appeal to me. Ghosts! I heart ghost! Our scenario went like this:
We (me, Jim and Derek, even though he is the GM he also plays all secondary characters and other main characters if there are any) are a three-person public access/webisode Ghost Hunters/Ghost Adventures-esque show, called Ghost Stalkers. The people involved in this show are the on-air talent, Susie Cross, my character. I created her to be kind of a ditsy blonde, kind of overly-trusting person who can't lie or isn't terrible cunning. Susie took the hosting job for this particular show originally for the semi-fame aspect of it, but since I filled in four bubbles of occult, meaning I had a vast knowledge of the subject, I learned all about ghosts from my hosting gig. Jim played William Locke, an anti-social, kinda shitty camera man ("Just put your camera on a tripod and go smoke.") and Irving, the bank-roller of this little dog and pony show. I asked Derek what his motivation was to through money at something that wasn't terrible successful, or all that legit. Apparently, little did I know, this was a much more loaded question than I anticipated.
Thus far, our show has aired ten episodes to little fanfare and viewership, but we are looking to gain more fame and opportunities whenever we can, but our show isn't very good ("You're show is a little bit too much, 'Yep. There it is' None of that, 'Did we get it?!' DUN! DUN! DUN! 'Nope, it's a cat.'" Derek explained) Our next investigation (for this game) is taking place at an old estate in Fargo, ND that was owned by a bitter not-very-well-liked old man Darren Harnett who got himself trapped in his fancy-pants wine cellar and died in there. Not only did he accidently trap himself in there, he also drank a lot of his wine, and then smashed the remaining bottles of wine in his cellar just so that no one else could have them. He knew he was going to die in there so he went out in a drunken fury. His body was only discovered months later by his staff members, since no one really cared where he was most of the time. So not only did Darren Harnett die under terrible, lonely, drunk circumstances, he also led a bit of a angry, Mr. Burns-esque life.
Derek asked us, Susie and Locke, if we wanted Irving to go with us on our latest investigation. We said sure, why not. Apparently, Irving likes to go with occasional on investigations just to help out with costs and holding extra equipment and what not. So, the three of us loaded up and headed to Fargo, ND.
I would like to just state how hard it is for me to not CONSTANTLY interject, "in the game" into every verb-heavy sentence I write. So, I'm just going to say, this is all happening IN THE GAME. We never left the kitchen table at my sister's house. Not once! Not even to go and get ice cream. Wait, that's a lie, I totally had ice cream.
Speaking of food, I apparently got too hung up on what everyone was eating when we would go out to our make-believe breakfast, lunch and dinners, which I am sure is a novice mistake. I mean, what people eat does say a lot about themselves, right? And if what we were eating wasn't so important than why did so many conversations and major plot point revelations happen while eating breakfast, lunch or dinner? I made sure that I would describe what my character Susie was eating. She had a bread bowl salad at Perkins for lunch, a fried egg sandwich for breakfast the morning after the overnight investigation at the local diner. Later, I ate some popcorn in my apartment. I also attempted to make a turkey sandwich at some point, and ate some Sweet Tarts. After a while, Derek got fed up with me.
"Where do we go for lunch?" I asked.
"I ....don't care." He said.
But, I digress.
Once we reached Fargo the three of us met with Darren Harnett's niece, Lindsey, who is now the caretaker of the property. Derek played Lindsey, disappointingly without taking on any kind of feminine voice of inflection at all. Tsk. Some GM.
We would ask her a question, than roll our dice to see what kind of answer we would get. Depending on the roll, Derek, who wrote the story, would decide how much or how little information he would give us. Pretty much throughout the whole game, Jim and I rolled terribly. We couldn't catch a break. This was especially disappointing when we were actually doing the investigation and rolled pathetically and had zero paranormal activity, but much to my surprise, that wasn't the point of the game at all!
So, we did a uneventful investigation, didn't really get a whole lot of stuff at first blush, evidence still needed reviewing, etc. So, Locke, Susie and Irving all backed up for the night and headed back to their hotel. Susie and Locke got up at about noon and were making inane chit-chat with the front desk clerk who just happened to mention to us that Irving checked out two hours prior to us even waking up. Yea, I didn't think there was a point to this either at first. Locke and Susie go off in search of breakfast at the local diner, where Irving already was, just sitting down and getting ready to order. Locke and Susie join him.
More dice rolling occurred, and since I had no luck, I rolled very poorly and was too interested in my fried egg sandwich to be observant at all. Jim's Locke rolled much better and was able to notice that our wealthy friend was wearing a fancy new ring.
Now, this is something else about RPG-ing that I really failed to grasp. Apparently, my character wasn't suppose to be hearing any of the following exchange because of how poorly I rolled. But, I could totally hear it! I was sitting right there! Like, real me! I dunno, I still kind of find this confusing.
Locke asked Irving where he got his new ring. Irving told Locke that he went antiquing that morning and found it. End of conversation.
So, next we all piled back into our van and headed back to Minneapolis, our home base. Once we were back in town we all went our separate ways. Susie went and got a mani-pedi ( I was also prepared to go into a long description of this but I was afraid that it "wan't important" either. What. Ever.) Irving went back to his home in the 'burbs and Locke went off to our little lab, or what have you, to review evidence. Hour passed, and as Locke went through the evidence he caught on his camera a piece of his equipment that he just remembered he didn't pack back up with him. Locke was quickly on the phone with Lindsey.
The Locke and Lindsey conversation reviled that "Oh, darn, Locke, I wish I would have known you left something here. I would have given it to Irving since he came back this morning and said he dropped his ring down in the wine cellar!" Suspicious! Since Jim also rolled semi-decent during this conversation he also got to have Lindsey tell him, "Yeah, ever since you guys left the energy has really changed. It's seems so much lighter and brighter in here." Hmmmm...
After this conversation Locke decides (well, rolls to be able to) do a little sleuthing and thought back to all the other investigations Irving had gone on with them and happened to show up with a new trinket or piece of jewelry. He then matched up these incidents with the place that was investigated and called the corresponding location. All the current owners or caretakers also claimed that there was a distinct change in energy, be it good or bad, depending on what kind of ghost was haunting the place. For example, this group had investigated a nursing home that had been haunted by a kindly, helpful spirit who kept the energy light and friendly, and ever since this group came it's now more like a place people come to die, like a bummer nursing home. After getting about four or five of these confirmations, Locke was starting to becoming very suspicious of Irving.
Locke decided to called Susie. Susie was sitting in her apartment wearing Juicy Couture pink sweats, eating popcorn and watching Sex and the City reruns ("You're just the worse kind of person." I was told.) Creating a terribly trustworthy and honest character, after first hearing this I was like, "Well, maybe we are just helping the spirits move on to the next plain." I also decided that I liked Irving and thought him to be sort of grandfatherly. Locke suggested we go visit him and ask him what he thought about all of this, I said sure. At this point, Jim and Derek both laughed and looked like I just signed my death warrant. Gee whiz, I didn't realize in role playing that I was suppose to suspect that everyone who isn't me is up to no good, where is the fun in that? Jim said, "It is called World of Darkness for reason." I also told Locke to come and pick me up but I had to throw some jeans on first. They were Seven For All Mankind jeans.
Locke and Susie arrived at Irving's home. While surprised to see us, he still invited us in. I, just being silly, asked if I could have something to eat. Irving told me to help myself in the kitchen, but Derek decided I got lost on the way to the kitchen and happened across Irving's study (who has a study? If you have a study, you are automatically a villain.) In this study, I see sitting on his desk the ring we had in Fargo that I wasn't suppose to notice, along with various other pieces of jewelry. I rolled to be able to pick the jewelry up and examine it closer. While I was holding one of the rings I was suddenly over taken with a desire to own things, but I knew that this thought was not my own. I set the ring down and picked up another piece. I was also overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness, but I knew it wasn't my feeling, and it quickly went away when I set the ring down. Also on the desk was a small, black, leather-bound book written in handwriting, each different passage written by a different hand. I tried to read on of the passages out loud. Just then, one of the rings on the desk shattered. Out from the stone came a mist that was immediately trapped in a glass of water sitting on the desk. In the water, where the mist went, was a confused, angry face of a woman. I, having lots of dots in the occult (dots are good, where I have no dots is the lying, thinking people are bad, etc.) I quickly pieced together that it was a spirit that was trapped in the ring that I shattered and now it was trapped in the water (believe me, when I figured this out, the "ripping off Harry Potter" accusations went flying in Derek's direction. Horocruxes, anyone. But, in his defense, he said he never even was thinking about that.) So then, in my panic state, (I said I figured out what was going on, not that I was calm about it) I grabbed the water and ran over to the window with it. I then commanded the spirit to leave. Which it did, and then the glass shattered loudly. Meanwhile, Locke and Irving hear the glass shatter, Irving calls to see if Susie is alright.
Since I am a terribly liar I almost immediately admit to not only being in his study but that I also broke the glass. However, I got to roll one die, and lo and behold, it gave me the ability to to one little lie that was actually believe. I said I was taking a drink of the water and my fingers slipped and it fell out of my hands and shattered. Quickly after that, Susie suggested that her and Locke GTFO. Irving then "put a mind whammy" on her and decided, oh, no wait, let's stay for a little bit. What gave him the ability to "whammy minds?" I think it was a roll Derek took for Irving...I think. Unless he just started pulling this stuff out of his hat which I'm sure he didn't. That's one thing with RPG, you really have to trust your GM, otherwise they could just eff with you the whole time. Locke, however, was still like, "Oh, dear, this isn't good." Irving then suggested that all three of us go to the study.
Once in the study, Locke then noticed all the things on the desk, along with the broken ring an odd book. Irving asked Susie if she looked at the book. "Sure did!" Said the World's Most Honest Gal. Irving said that was okay, and then asked her if she wanted to live forever. Susie said, "No, thank you." To which Irving replied, "What a shame." And reached for the damn gun in his pocket. To which, I, not as Susie asked, "Who the hell keeps on gun in their pocket when they are hanging out at home by themselves?!" To which Jim and Derek answered in unison, "World of Darkness people!" Locke, fortunately saw the weapon, rolled to see if and how well he could attack Irving and he managed to kinda sorta hit him on the shoulder with his camera (don't all cameramen constantly carry cameras around with them?) and somewhat knock him to the ground. Locke told me to repeat the incantation I said the first time I released the spirit from the ring and see if I could free any other from the jewelry, which was all now quivering on the desk....the spirits were hungry for Irving's blood.
Jim and I took turns rolling to see how badly we could attack Irving and see how many spirits I could release with my spell shouting and Derek rolled to see if Irving got any shots in (he did! Susie got shot in the leg, Locke in the arm) eventually, between all the angry spirits now passing through Irving and causing internal bleeding (could you imagine if that really happened?!) and Locke's attempts at hitting him with his camera (he's not weak, you guys, I'm just rolling bad) Irving eventually died. And Susie and Locke lived! Hooray! I guess that is a pretty big deal to live through your first World of Darkness game since I even made such an inept character who made stupid decisions!
Turns out, that book was a Grimoire, Irving was a lich (which I guess is a "soul vampire") and he was going back to the locations after the investigations under false pretenses and sucking the ghosts out of there and locking them in his flashy jewelry. Apparently, Susie and Locke were like his tenth paranormal investigation team. I asked Derek, "Well, what happened to the rest of them?" "Well, that's a whole 'nother game." Aha.
Also, there was a Gentlemen's Club called The Pink Salmon. What a game!
Would I play again? Oh, for sure. Like I have stated in my previous blog post about playing RPGs there is math, and math kind of scares me. I know all you people out there who are good at math and it comes easy to them are like, "Pish posh," well, adding makes me nervous, so there you have it. So, the ability to glance at my little worksheet and add up my dots to see how many dice I need to roll and then add up my dice rolls and all that jazz would be my only real drawback. I loved the story, I loved the fact that you really have no way of knowing which way things could turn out (like us getting no evidence, I thought we were in for a Dullsville game) and we did have a very good time, but I'm sure it helped that I played with two funny guys. Do I still think it's for nerds? Oh, my yes. But the best things are!