I wrote this around Thanksgiving, but ended up not posting it because I am uncomfortable sharing my feelings or personal information online, and I didn’t want to look like a dweeb, and, and, and.
Okay, fine, I’m a dweeb. I don’t think anyone was in doubt.
Here’s what was going through my head around Thanksgiving:
Around the middle of 2012, Chlodomer’s player gave me a copy of ACKS. It looked interesting, and the end-game stuff really caught my eye. He and I have talked about trying to get a game together for a few years. We occasionally do board games, because he doesn’t want to run things and I’m … well, an old lazy sack (grin). So I read through it, one more burnt candle in my quest for nostalgia, and played around with some of the rules, sketched a rough outline of a map - all of the usual stuff I do when I know I’m not going to actually do anything with it, but farting around feels so good.
Anyway, what happened after that was this:
My brother and his wife have a daughter: Smart, snarky, addicted to video games. We mostly get along (I’m the weird uncle with all the cool board games), so I offered to give her a place to hang out for an afternoon while the parents went on a real, live, actual date. She showed up with a friend, they brought some electronics and plugged into some game that involved spastic flashing lights, and I went back to scribbling notes and fantasizing about having a gaming group.
At some point, her friend unplugged and began poking around. Reading book titles. Skimming board games. Asked me whether “ZOMBIES!!!” was a video game, then moved on.
At some point, she looked over my shoulder, and asked if the map I was sketching was “for Middle Earth or something.”
So I started to explain, thought better of it, and did a little mini-session as an explanation - I don’t remember the details, but I gave a brief introduction to Rudolph the Barbarian who wanted the gold in an ogre’s cave, and let her decide what Rudolph would do, and then told her what happened as a result. I wish I’d taken notes: first time players do weird stuff, but all I can remember months later is that she wanted to talk to the ogre and concocted some scheme where she would be up a tree and out of reach long enough to parley.
Anyway, we did this for maybe 30 minutes. She turned to my niece and said, “Hey! You have to try this!” And then after half a beat, to me, “Rudolph can have a friend along, right?”
We now play almost every Saturday.
So for this Thanksgiving:
I am thankful that Chlodomer’s player is an old-school murderhobo with tactical chops and a greedy, ambitious glint in his eyes who wants to create the God-Emperor of Galaufabonne.
I am thankful that Galswintha’s player wants to know everything, pokes sticks into dark holes, asks goblins about their life plans, and generally puts more question marks on the map that any other player.
I am thankful that Shadagrunde’s player is a heroic-minded paladin of the best sort, who works tirelessly to make our shared fictional setting a better world and time and time again throws himself between his comrades and danger … despite some of the worst dice luck I’ve ever seen.
And I am thankful that Vulfelind’s player is a tiny tactical land-mine who counts enemy spells, sabotages mounts, blows her cash on high-level assassins, and traps hallways to limit the points of egress … all while maintaining a near-unassailable poker face of innocence.
So I’m thankful for my players, and I’m thankful for ACKS and Autarch, and I’m thankful that I’ve had an opportunity to share our campaign with all of you. And I’m hopeful that we’ll manage another year of this campaign and then we’ll start another, for as long as the ride lasts.