The Gamemasters

The Gamemasters
Feng Shui of a Table

Julianne Capps | 6 Sep 2005 08:04
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I note my own pulse and breathing has quickened. Huh.

"Shhhhhh!" A player appears in front of me out of nowhere. It is Clueless. Still on edge from nearly becoming a bathroom door pancake, I nod and Clueless moves on down the hall. I go the opposite direction.


Aged Master rushes at me, intent on smashing me to bits. I am no match for this guy, unarmed. I again take stock of my surroundings, but I'm in a hall and find nothing but ceiling, floor, walls and bad corporate art. Bad corporate art is certainly offensive. I grab a nearby piece entitled, "Large Orange Blob," ponder simply showing it to Aged Master as an attack, then decide it is better to use it on his head, much like a hammer hits a nail.

My die roll apparently is successful. "Awwww!" chimes in The Grin, "Sorry, that's it. Death by painting." I take off down the hall toward the office in which I took refuge earlier.

I finally draw my first breath since I happened upon Aged Master in the hall. This is really getting to me. I look around the table at my companions. They all have a slightly bummed expression on their faces. It would seem they are all dead except...

Clueless! As I round the corner into the office, my eyes are met by He Who Notices Nothing. He grins wickedly and starts swinging his weapon, a computer monitor held by the power cable, in circles above his head. I grab a nearby coat stand.

"Natasha, you have the initiative," laughs The Grin.

"Noooo!!" I look down at the double ones. My coat stand misses wildly. I am slammed by a computer monitor, and Clueless is proclaimed winner.

I am crestfallen. Natasha is killed by a whirling Monitor of Death. And after I had so carefully attacked when prudent and taken cover when outmatched. How odd that the feeling affected my real emotional state. For that matter, how odd that my companions and I all reacted so animatedly to the events of the game.

There is something special about the opportunity that a pen and paper game experience allows. I have played many electronic games for many years, but making the actual decision for my character against other people who were making actual decisions for their characters was intense. This intensity has been described to me by pen and paper gamers for years, but until I was actually involved, it didn't make sense.

Coming from the rich and vibrant world of electronic games, I had expected to be under-whelmed by the offerings of pen and paper games. On the contrary, I have been quite taken in. Since this first foray into tabletop RPGs, I have explored Greyhawk in Dungeons and Dragons and been involved in lots of perfectly ... ahhh ... legal activities in Cyberpunk 2020. I'm always looking for a good, new game. If you've got one let me know. I'll bring my dice.

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