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A Ramble On Campaigns


seneschal

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As I read through the various discussions here I get the impression that my role-playing experience may not have been the same as other enthusiasts.  Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon and RuneQuest seem to be founded on massive, multi-chapter, pre-written campaigns.  But my friends and I never played that way, for several reasons.

No Spells For You! --- Fantasy role-playing was considered eeeeeeeevil In the 1970s and '80s.  To avoid parental wrath we played (primarily) Classic Traveller, Champions, and Toon -- all safely non-magical.  While there were published adventures and campaigns for each of these games (even Toon!), they tended to lend themselves to episodic play.  Toon is based on 8-minute cartoons, Champions always devolved into a big brawl instead of focusing on detective work, and Traveller is deadly enough that I had my players roll up three or four spare characters apiece -- just in case.  Who needs Grimtooth's Traps when you can perish simply for forgetting to zip up the fly on your spacesuit?

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin-Eater! -- GM duties always seemed to fall to me but my players either had more disposable income or more sympathetic relatives than I did.  Did they purchase all the supplemental material for a given rules set?  Would they read the sample adventures in the backs of the core rulebooks?  Would they take advantage of their forbidden knowledge during play?  What do you think?  I had to come up with my own material, shamelessly stealing characters, locations and bits from comics, movies, and scenarios for totally unrelated games.  How were my players to know that a particular starship or villain base was actually the layout for a local mall, museum, or school?  A big, scary monster from one game is a big, scary alien for another.  What's the difference between Kimo the sumo ninja, Barmoth the Terror of Pluto, and Dastard Duckly?  I dunno.  They're all voiced by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.  You can figure out the game mechanics later.

Huh?  We Were Supposed To Play TODAY? -- Getting a group of three to six people together on a consistent basis is difficult, especially as those individuals age out of high school and college, get jobs and spouses and kids, move out of state, etc.  The most sprawling "campaign" I managed ran 3-5 play sessions (honestly can't remember) and ultimately even one-shots became impossible.  Given the skittishness of my associates, attempting a phonebook-sized epic with props and handouts would have been daunting even in high school.  How did you guys manage it?

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My first RPG game (& gaming group), in school, were centered around Gamma World 1e.  We moved from there into various flavors of D&D, mostly AD&D.  There was a mix of episodic (1-3 session) and longer (5+ session) story-arcs.

We never achieved "great epic" lengths of play, however!  For some, I doubt that was even an ambition.  For others, it very much was the idea(l)... <wistful sigh>   We seldom relied upon pre-published material, not even single-story "modules," and NEVER the "grand campaign" products.  Most GM's ran original content... if we/they cribbed from other sources, we never admitted it or shared methods/sources.   In large part, I blame the lack of "grand epic" upon our creativity -- there was very much a "oooo!  new idea, new article, new game-mechanic" phenomenon driving the stopping of one arc and starting something different; we weren't quite self-reflective enough to spot it at the time.

We were all (to one degree or another) geeks & nerds, willing to prioritize gaming over other activities.  I was probably the "most athletic" (cross-country, track) but my coach wasn't the hard-ass competitive type who wanted 2-3 hours' daily practice (unlike my swim-coach, from earlier).  There was time for at least one big (6h or longer) gamesession most weeks... often time for more.  More than once, we had sleepover events where we gamed Friday or Saturday until we couldn't say awake, crashed at the hosting house, and resumed the next morning as soon as everyone was awake-enough.ank

Only one of us had a parent who might have been religious-enough to fall into the "satanic panic," but I never heard of any such issue; frankly, I kinda thought they were a "bad" parent, not caring much about what their kid did/didn't do, so long as it didn't impact themselves too severely.  So, D&D was never our issue (that I saw).

Cheating... yeah, I was a bit suspicious of one of the players, who seemed to VERY often get absurdly-lucky when nobody else could see their dice... but pre-knowledge of scenarios was seldom an at-the-table issue.  I once rolled up, from random luck-o-dice, a one-in-a-million good character.  The GM was like, "Really?  Randomly rolled???" but believed me when I asserted it so; I played the character once, just to say he was a "real" PC, and then retired him to be a "deus-ex" NPC when I was GM.

But yeah, absolutely -- aging out of school, moving away, growing up into new hobbies & new responsibilities (spouse, child, whatever) -- have been the death-knell of many a group (including more than one of my groups).

Most currently, our group cannot realistically manage to meet more often than once every month or two.  We find it insufficient to sustain a "campaign" per se -- clues are forgotten, plotlines drift in memory, etc.

Edited by g33k
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16 hours ago, seneschal said:

How did you guys manage it?

I set up a weekly club in 1989 with two friends (http://tuesdayknights.org.uk) to play RuneQuest and we've been going ever since. We are currently running two groups on Zoom and Roll20 until we figure out venues and COVID restrictions. I realise this may not what you want to hear, but clubs have inertia and we have no problem with getting games together. I also ran conventions, which are also a great way to get your friends together.

As for how to run games, we have a six week block system, so GMs are masters of chunking big campaigns. I play in some smaller groups too, these are much more informal normally with one shots, but I did run all of the adventures from the RQ Screen Guide over a few months.

Edited by David Scott
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14 hours ago, David Scott said:

I set up a weekly club in 1989 with two friends (http://tuesdayknights.org.uk) to play RuneQuest and we've been going ever since. We are currently running two groups on Zoom and Roll20 until we figure out venues and COVID restrictions. I realise this may not what you want to hear, but clubs have inertia and we have no problem with getting games together. I also ran conventions, which are also a great way to get your friends together.

As for how to run games, we have a six week block system, so GMs are masters of chunking big campaigns. I play in some smaller groups too, these are much more informal normally with one shots, but I did run all of the adventures from the RQ Screen Guide over a few months.

I too created some gaming clubs (three of them), and at least 2 of them lasted after I left (dunno about the 3rd one).  All were school-based.  Also, all were more haphazard than David reports RE the Tuesday Knights, never formalizing to 6-week-chunks or anything like that.

The first one actually began as a "chess club" before RPGs, but rapidly morphed into "games" (cards, board games, etc) & readily included RPGs (indeed became RPG-centric (tho not exclusive) in the 1978-1980 timeframe).

 

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On 9/4/2020 at 6:50 PM, seneschal said:

How did you guys manage it?

We had a weekly games session at University and the GM ran a campaign. Then I joined another group after University and we had weekly sessions with multi-GMs and did not have a campaign but had a shared Glorantha with plot themes that ran in parallel, which is how I run my campaigns now. That spawned into a weekly/monthly campaign using some of the NPCs. My current group plays weekly as well and we have single GMs who run a campaign then hand over to someone else.

The issue of buying supplements wasn't an issue, as the GM would ask us not to read certain supplements and would change the scenarios anyway. Our next RQ campaign has this, so I am banned from reading a lot of the new RQ/JC scenarios until we play them.

In the UK, the scare about RPGs didn't really happen, at least not to the extent that it did in the USA. My parents didn't mind what I played, they were more pleased that I was making friends. 

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5 hours ago, soltakss said:

...

In the UK, the scare about RPGs didn't really happen, at least not to the extent that it did in the USA.

I think that the "satanic panic" was particular to (primarily created/propagated/fueled by) fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity, which AFAIK infects the USA far worse than it does any other primarily English-speaking nation, and occasionally produces entirely vile irruptions from its generally-conservative base state (also noting that there are startlingly, even radically, liberal / progressive groups & positions emerging from that base... ) .

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On 9/4/2020 at 11:50 AM, seneschal said:

As I read through the various discussions here I get the impression that my role-playing experience may not have been the same as other enthusiasts.  Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon and RuneQuest seem to be founded on massive, multi-chapter, pre-written campaigns.  But my friends and I never played that way, for several reasons.

snip

I got lucky, Pendragon games is what I recall the name of the shop was that I really found my grail. It was run by a sergeant in the militia and his wife. I showed up and starting playing war-games, sci-fi games, novelty games and, of course, ad&d... met a long term girlfriend there and played with anyone who wished to play most anything, In that time, one did not ask many questions playing with a girl, no problem, with a kid, sure here's the book learn the rules. Sci-fi, fantasy or WW III, sure! 

When the store moved we all went in to help paint, install walls for hanging things, putting up stock We are a cool little group with many enthusiasms, skills and world views We played in napoleonic games that last years both by post and in person (the same game) we played weekend long "defend the Rhine" against the hordes of Warsaw Pact divisions that fell apart as the soviet hip and hind helicopters hit the field on the third day... For a year we all had the same D&D characters and played in a series of games starting with Keep on the Borderlands that I ran and included Tegel Manor (I cameoed a very confused Kzinti as the stats had just come out in WD or Dragon), City of the imperial Overlord and many other Judges Guild modules that somehow hung together. These games last a few years and after leaving home and travelling afar I always looked for something like that. In the late 80s and early 90s the hobby entered the mainstream and I found a last pocket of true geeks (they still talked about Python and computers but included Dr. Who...who... and many were punks and goths, hey no worries these were entering the mainstream at the time too) in a far city from home that lasted over a decade but since then... no more campaigns just one shots and then nothing for over a decade until now, life got delightfully in the way and I had my own adventures, so no tears!

So in conclusion, to start I played a silly game (d&d) and a lot of very serious games for a few years in camping mode. the silly game had to become a campaign to live up to our other games. Serious RPG gaming, RQ,  would have wait to wait until I was well grown up and my new gaming friends far from where I was raised were as well. We ran a series of one offs and 3 RQ 2 and 3 campaigns that knitted well together with only one PC casualty (and the way that went was epic enough that everyone was quite chuffed). We played from 89 to the early 21st century on and off until it finally broke up. Currently waiting to start an HQ game (by him) or an RQ game (with me as GM) with his adult daughter playing as well Throw in a few upcoming online games to come as well... Talk to me I might have room for intrepid adventures.

seneschal, I believe you must be a lot of fun to game with...

Happy gaming however you do it!

Edited by Bill the barbarian

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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In recent decades I've tried to game with my wife and kids but they never got into it.  Most successful tactical war game:  Firefly Games' "Monster Island."  Giant cryptids vs. the National Guard and each other, using toys as miniatures.  My wife used a rubber Halloween spider, backed up with a leftover can of Silly String.  Most successful role-playing game:  Dark City Games' "Legends of the Ancient World," a brief free-to-download retroclone of "The Fantasy Trip."  My dungeon crawl freaked them out, and they managed to evade the monsters until they were running out the front door.

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21 hours ago, soltakss said:

In the UK, the scare about RPGs didn't really happen, at least not to the extent that it did in the USA. My parents didn't mind what I played, they were more pleased that I was making friends. 

Ditto for me. I only really found out about it in the early 90s when I saw one of the Jack Chick tract's that someone had brought over from the states. I actually thought it was a joke publication. The magic of the interwebs makes it available for everyone:

https://www.chick.com/products/tract?stk=0046

 

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Well, I really didn't intend to start a "dump on Christians" thread.  I mentioned the phenomenon merely because it influenced what games I purchased, not whether I role-played at all.  Hollywood and the news media, definitely a secular non-evangelical bunch, whipped up public fears for fun and profit.  The newsmen and TV execs were just as ignorant of tabletop miniatures war gaming culture (from which role-playing sprang) as any pastor.  Apparently no adult, believer or atheist, could be bothered to actually pick up and read a rulebook or sit in on a game session to see what it was actually all about.

Also, keep in mind the information available to concerned parents at the time.  This was the pre-internet era.  The big three networks controlled the news and Walter Cronkite's pronouncements were the way it was.  There was no alternative media, no easy way to fact check claims.  So when 60 Minutes, news magazines, and local newspapers ran scare stories, folks tended to believe them.  Add to that paperback books condemning role-playing appearing at the grocery store check-out aisle, "expert" special speakers traveling church to church, and CBS airing "Mazes and Monsters" during prime time, well, what were people supposed to think?  The controversy certainly didn't hurt TSR's sales.

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4 hours ago, seneschal said:

Well, I really didn't intend to start a "dump on Christians" thread.  I mentioned the phenomenon merely because it influenced what games I purchased, not whether I role-played at all.  Hollywood and the news media, definitely a secular non-evangelical bunch, whipped up public fears for fun and profit.  The newsmen and TV execs were just as ignorant of tabletop miniatures war gaming culture (from which role-playing sprang) as any pastor.  Apparently no adult, believer or atheist, could be bothered to actually pick up and read a rulebook or sit in on a game session to see what it was actually all about.

Also, keep in mind the information available to concerned parents at the time.  This was the pre-internet era.  The big three networks controlled the news and Walter Cronkite's pronouncements were the way it was.  There was no alternative media, no easy way to fact check claims.  So when 60 Minutes, news magazines, and local newspapers ran scare stories, folks tended to believe them.  Add to that paperback books condemning role-playing appearing at the grocery store check-out aisle, "expert" special speakers traveling church to church, and CBS airing "Mazes and Monsters" during prime time, well, what were people supposed to think?  The controversy certainly didn't hurt TSR's sales.

Yeah, some of those "experts" made good money, touring and lecturing... I'm honestly unclear if they were just spreading their own delusion, or had realized D&D really was "just a game" but figured the shrieking alarm was their meal-ticket.

Church groups weren't their only destinations, either -- they also "trained" police departments (and spun-off at least one "police expert" who kept going, training & lecture/touring on his own), and various governmental/regulatory agencies.  And let us not forget the infamous Secret Service raid on SJG because their RPG supplement had rules about "hacking..."  All sorts of WTF delusions in the mainstream who didn't understand RPGs!

And you're right to point out that it was mass-media who spread it far an wee.  Again, it's tough to disentangle their profit motive from their "do a public service by warning folks" motive; Pat Pulling had a compelling narrative to offer, in the suicide of her son.  Other suicides (and murders) got blamed on D&D too, until Stackpole proved that roleplayers were LESS prone to suicide, and the mainstream press began to ramp it down (note that there's STILL some anti-D&D bias to be found on religious grounds, in some places).
 

But I don't think this thread has gone in a "dump on Christians" broadly direction.  The specific problems Christianity has with D&D, so far as I can tell, come from the evangelical branch, and spilled over only briefly and in minor ways to the rest of Christianity (Pulling certainly came from that evangelical tradition, though.  At one point, she sued the principal of her son's high school for casting a D&D spell on her son's character! ) .  But the whole "Satanic Panic" (of which the D&D flap was a minor sideline) was heavily (though not solely) driven by conservative/evangelical Christianity in the USA; these are matters of clear fact & well-documented, and it's worth noting as an example of the kinds of excess that branch indulges in.

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And yet those detestable, infectious, intolerant, conservative Christians were so dastardly as to express their concerns peacefully and legally.  ("It's a trap!"). They utterly failed to smash game shop and bookstore windows and dump their inventory in the street.  They proved completely useless at torching those shops and the businesses around them.  They absolutely neglected to physically and verbally assault the merchants and their youthful customers, or to follow them home, or to shout and curse on their doorsteps, or to threaten their loved ones, or to attempt to ruin their careers.  Oh, such perfidy!  Oh, the humanity!

Then, to make it worse, they suddenly forgot all about tabletop role-playing and briefly went after video games instead.  "Devil May Cry," indeed!

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3 hours ago, seneschal said:

And yet those detestable, infectious, intolerant, conservative Christians were so dastardly as to express their concerns peacefully and legally.  ("It's a trap!"). They utterly failed to smash game shop and bookstore windows and dump their inventory in the street.  They proved completely useless at torching those shops and the businesses around them.  They absolutely neglected to physically and verbally assault the merchants and their youthful customers, or to follow them home, or to shout and curse on their doorsteps, or to threaten their loved ones, or to attempt to ruin their careers.  Oh, such perfidy!  Oh, the humanity!

Then, to make it worse, they suddenly forgot all about tabletop role-playing and briefly went after video games instead.  "Devil May Cry," indeed!

Uhhh...
What??!

You seem to be conflating ... lemme check this... modern protests over racial injustice & police brutality  (some of which turn violent, sometimes  (and we are still remembering (I hope!) how much the media loves to sell OMG-this-is-awful stories, aren't we???)) ... with another issue that peaked 30-40 years ago??!?

Please don't.  For the record (in case it matters to you):

  • About 90% - 95% of #BLM protests remain peaceful (d'you think those get national press coverage?  TV airtime?  90% of the TV airtime for peaceful-protest stories?)
  • We have video evidence that a non-trivial number of the ones that DO go violent... the violence is actually instigated by the police, or by "outside" agitators unknown to the BLM organizers / the local community.

Yes, I have data to back up my claims.  But this whole tangent is just unsuited to BRPC, I think... apologies to the OP (and others); shall we take it to PM, @seneschal , if you want to continue the non-gaming / modern-protest tangent ?

===

We were talking about gaming; specifically, the "Satanic Panic" effect on gaming & campaign-play... and the factuality of the conservative/evangelical Christian influence on the Satanic Panic (and specifically the anti-D&D / anti-gaming) is indisputable.  It's not like there was NOTHING to worry about on this topic, after all...  The Manson Gang had been on an explicitly-Satanic murder-spree in LA; LaVey had just published "The Satanic Bible;" the "Zodiac Killer" seemed to be occult-focused; etc (there's actually rather a lot like this... very much including TV documentaries and other mainstream media!).

So when D&D came up a few years later... and peoples' kids started talking about "Demons" and "Devils" and "casting a 6th-level spell" and stuff like that... the pump was definitely primed!

But... umm... if you want to talk about  actual  harm-done... yeah, the "Satanic Panic" actually DID do real harm, ruined lives and businesses.  People went to jail based upon hysteria-driven false testimony.  In some cases, jailed for decades.  Families were broken up, kids sent into foster-care.  With zero corroborating/physical evidence, and the kids in question later recounting that police and church groups coached and coerced their childhood testimonies.

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I discovered RPG when I was about 8 years-old... by mistake! In France, the same editor (Gallimard) was publishing both Ian Livingstone/Steve Jackson's Roleplaying gamebooks (and many others!), and The Dark Eye: same covers. I did like these gamebooks, and finally bought the Dark Eye box, thinking it was just another gamebook, just in a box... Beginning of the end... 😊

When I was 11 or 12, I discovered AD&D, and next CoC and RQ. Here in France we had the "Satanic panic", with famous TV reports that did hurt strongly RPG. I remember several cases on TV with suicides, cemetary breakings... Some games, like Kult, were more blamed than others. It lasted a few years, and then, here too, video games became the great Satan... My parents didn't mind I was playing RPG, even if they thought it was stupid, mainly because I was a good student, dating with girls, eventually getting myself into a mess, so after all I just was another teenage like others.

Now RPG is a hobby like another. Some like it, some don't. Just like board games. In addition, I think that french conception of "geek" or "nerd" is quite different from the US. Reading comics is not a criterion. Playing board games is very common. Tabletop RPG gathers many sorts of people (and it is one of its richnesses), and it's not a geek monopoly. Here the word "geek" is mainly saved for video hard-gamers and social network addicts, who sacrifice any social life to their hobbies. Maybe I'm wrong, but it always seemed to me that in the US, "geek" has a broader sense (comics and SF readers, RPG gamers, scientists, good students...)? Please, correct me if I'm wrong!!

Satanic panic now in France? I can imagine sometimes you could find someone who still believes RPG is some kind of satanic ritual, but no media is talking about it, this particular witch-hunt is over. Here the "satanic" accusation is now saved for abortion, euthanasia, ART (especially ART these days...)... Same inquisitors, new witches... 😁

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18 hours ago, seneschal said:

Well, I really didn't intend to start a "dump on Christians" thread.

and

13 hours ago, seneschal said:

And yet those detestable, infectious, intolerant, conservative Christians were so dastardly as to express their concerns peacefully and legally.  

There was a satanic Panic in the 70s and 80s and it did concern a number of conservative Bible Belt Christians. That is a fact.

However, it was by no means all Christians in the USA and certainly not all Christians everywhere.

Personally, I think it is just another representation of the Book Burning mentality. "This is bad, this is evil, we need to stop it, burn some books".

I know of some people who had a really bad time because of this and who have pretty much broken with their families. There is a chap from Brazil, I think, whose career was ruined because someone at his church found out that he played RPGs, so it was/is a serious issue for some people.

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

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Well, apart from a short, introductory period of playing the very first edition of Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye) in the mid-80s, my roleplaying "career" really started when I went off to university (a.k.a. college) and met with the right people.  

Campaigning wasn't that much of an issue over the course of the 90s, it just happened. WEG's D6 Star Wars, Warhammer FRP (thank ye gods for Warpstone & Hogshead), RuneQuest (both on Glorantha and in home-brew settings), the works. Granted, my pals and me were all students back then, and playing late into the night on weekdays was a no-brainer. There was ample time for GM prep work as well, oftentimes during lectures (they still haven't managed to find definitive proof whether P=NP btw, but I can't really blame this on my lack of attention back then). The only game that gravitated heavily towards short-lived adventures was Call of Cthulhu, for reasons I quite can't put my tentacles on.

Then life, work, and family happened, and roleplaying frequency naturally took a steep dive. One-off sessions, few and far in between, became the meagre norm.

For this reason I consider myself very lucky today to have found a group of friends both old and new, 8 people including me, which has been a staple to stable RPG session provisioning over the past four years. We usually manage to meet for two days on a weekend, every five to eight weeks (even in times like these), and people literally would have to be too sick to join in by Skype to miss it. Four of us infrequently rotate in and out as GM, with a somewhat broad portfolio of interests, genres and systems. Among other things, we've terrorized the Deadlands (SW), sunk flying ships in Sundered Skies (or did we fly sinking ships? SW again), involuntarily laid waste to Middenheim ("Waddayamean, we brought an artifact of Khorne into the waiting hands of a chaos cult?!", WFRP 2E), had a stunningly frightening police procedural in 1948 New York City (Film Noir RPG), a catastrophically dysfunctional road movie in 1974 California right afterwards (well, we did play started out as a group of drug-running white trailer trash; Film Noir RPG), and for the last year and a half or so, smote infidels and heretics left and right in the name of the Holy Inquisition (WH40k Dark Heresy, with a pinch of Rogue Trader, Deathwatch and Only War thrown in). It's been fun! 

 

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On 9/7/2020 at 11:25 PM, Loïc said:

I discovered RPG when I was about 8 years-old... by mistake! In France, the same editor (Gallimard) was publishing both Ian Livingstone/Steve Jackson's Roleplaying gamebooks (and many others!), and The Dark Eye: same covers. I did like these gamebooks, and finally bought the Dark Eye box, thinking it was just another gamebook, just in a box... Beginning of the end... 😊

Heh, I also discovered RPGs with the boxed version of the Dark Eye! My neighbour got it as a gift and we played 1 on 1 without even really knowing what a "roleplaying game" was (to us, it was just a marketing tagline on the box, not an actual genre!). Last year, on LeBonCoin, I tracked down 3 of the 4 boxes we had -- what a rush of nostalgia to see the vinyl map of Havena!

After that I didn't get into D&D. I have vague memories of playing quite a lot of Rolemaster, a couple of other random things, and then Vampire, followed a couple years later by Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green. That lasted a long time :) This was almost exclusively with friends from school, where we had a gaming club. Growing up, other schools had other gaming clubs. Then, as an adult, moving across cities and countries and continents, I mostly relied on online ads to find other players. This would often be the first thing I'd do when arriving to a new city. I never have any problem finding players who want to do longer campaigns because I recruit first with a CoC one-shot. That tends to bias heavily towards gamers who are "mature" and enjoy big epic campaigns at least occasionally.

Quote

Here in France we had the "Satanic panic", with famous TV reports that did hurt strongly RPG. I remember several cases on TV with suicides, cemetary breakings... Some games, like Kult, were more blamed than others. It lasted a few years, and then, here too, video games became the great Satan...

Huh I really don't remember it being a Satanic panic to the same degree as what happened in the US. Maybe it was more tame in my hometown but I only remember a few "issues" being raised on TV news, but not much else. I remember a lot more air-time dedicated to the "threat" of japanese anime, or video games. But maybe I was too young, or just not paying as much attention.

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4 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Huh I really don't remember it being a Satanic panic to the same degree as what happened in the US. Maybe it was more tame in my hometown but I only remember a few "issues" being raised on TV news, but not much else. I remember a lot more air-time dedicated to the "threat" of japanese anime, or video games. But maybe I was too young, or just not paying as much attention.

I'm 43 years-old, don't know if it's related to this...

Of course, it wasn't the same degree as in the US. But I do remember several cases, maybe more "sectarian panic" and not exclusively "satanic", in the first half of the 1990s. At this time, there was a sect paranoia (satanist or not), and RPG looked at worst like a sect recruit-cover, at best like a homicidal danger for emotionnally fragile teenagers. I remember a suicide (Béziers or Cahors?) that was attributed to D&D.

There was also the famous Carpentras jewish cemetary profanation in 1990. Several teenagers were involved, and they were also involved in a murder and a rape. These teenagers were playing RPG, sometimes in the cemetary, so RPG looked like the perfect responsible (they also made orgies, so the sect archetype fitted well...). In the end, the police discovered that these teenagers did played sometimes in the cemetary but never violated any tomb or corpse; they made orgies, but there was no rape; and the murder case could never been related to them. In reality, the profanation had been committed by a neo-nazi groupuscule... But there was anyway a TV fiction based upon the RPG theory (don't remember the title, and don't want to... 😁)!!!

In the meanwhile, several TV programs made the buzz around this: Zone Interdite (M6), Bas les masques (Antenne 2), Témoin numéro 1 (TF1)... You should easily find them on YouTube, I think. Then, as I said, due to media coverage, in the eyes of the parents, tabletop RPG looked at best like a stupid hobby that decerebrated teenagers, at worst like se serious mental illness ("my son plays RPG! That's why he has bad grades at school! And he could become a psycho! Do you know a good shrink?"). All depended on how your parents trusted TV. Fortunately, mines didn't care... 😊

It lasted just a few years, from 1990 I think, to 1995 or so. Then online RPG took the baton...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Gosh I started RuneQuest a young kid (11 ish) back in 1980.  

I played a bit in other people's campaigns before that, Heroes (of the Dark Ages) mainly, and one or two sessions of D&D, enough to decide I didn’t like it.  I decided to start up something for myself, and bought RuneQuest, mainly on the advice of a old veteran, who must have been at least 20, opining that it would be far too difficult for someone my age, definitely a clincher.

I interested a friend, and we got going, soon gathering others, until we were about 5 or so.  Happy days.  I remember roleplaying the whole weekend, without the need to go to bed…  Mostly we just wrote our own scenarios, with only the background that was in the core rules, with a rotating GM duty.  But I did run Borderlands.  We tried the odd other game, Chivalry and Sorcery, Traveller, and Call of Cthulhu, but RuneQuest was front and centre.

I saved up every penny I could, to buy RQiii (which was eye-wateringly expensive when it first came out, certainly for a kid my age), and continued campaigns with that over the years.  A mix of things, some Vikings, some Glorantha.  The original group had fallen away, and when I went to university, I met with the girl I’d marry, and introduced her to roleplaying.  But by now, it was a bit more sporadic.  Also, I was now almost exclusively the GM.  Enjoyed Pendragon a lot.  That lasted a few years into the millennium, before gradually petering out as life got far too busy.

And now the kids are old enough (despite getting married ridiculously young, we took a long while to come round to the idea of children), I found the new RuneQuest in Glorantha. Wow, the stuff of dreams!  Set up a group, and got going… just in time for lockdown.  However, we’ve continued over skype/teams and are having a fantastic time.

On 9/8/2020 at 9:51 AM, soltakss said:

There was a satanic Panic in the 70s and 80s and it did concern a number of conservative Bible Belt Christians. That is a fact.

Being UK based, we missed the entire “satanic roleplaying” furore (unless it made it here as well?).  We did hear about it going on in America, but I never got negative reactions beyond the level of patronising amusement.  But I do wonder about how Chaosium, as an American publisher, is going to fare with Aquelarre...

On 9/13/2020 at 4:28 AM, g33k said:

You're saying the teenagers... were having sex!?!?

Nope, we were too busy roleplaying.  And going to an all boys school meant I didn't know people came in two sexes until I went to university.  There was a lot of speculation over what to put in the sex box of the character sheet though.
 

Edited by Stephen L
typos...
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1 hour ago, Stephen L said:

...  But I do wonder about how Chaosium, as an American publisher, is going to fare with Aquelarre...

Oh... THESE days it's not much of an issue!  There are now a great many more religiously-transgressive RPGs than D&D & BADD ever dreamt...  😉

 

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On 9/5/2020 at 3:50 AM, seneschal said:

\Huh?  We Were Supposed To Play TODAY? -- Getting a group of three to six people together on a consistent basis is difficult, especially as those individuals age out of high school and college, get jobs and spouses and kids, move out of state, etc.  The most sprawling "campaign" I managed ran 3-5 play sessions (honestly can't remember) and ultimately even one-shots became impossible.  Given the skittishness of my associates, attempting a phonebook-sized epic with props and handouts would have been daunting even in high school.  How did you guys manage it?

 

I started young. My older brother was given Holmes D&D and we didn't know what it was. I found other gamers at primary and high school, and some others along the way. We had time to play for many hours in those days. I ended up GMing more often than not. I wasn't so confident with my own stuff as a kid so we played many pre-made adventures. I stuck with various incarnations of D&D and Traveller for years, but tried Gamma World and Paranoia and some others. Later I got into Call of Cthulhu, Cyberpunk and Shadowrun. It wasn't till the 90s that I picked up Elric! and was so amazed.

For me running campaigns is one of the good things you can do with RPGs, and something which distinguishes it from computer RPGs and other games. I've run several of my own, or partially confected from adventures I've read. My best campaigns have lasted about 10 sessions.

One of the things I like about pre-made adventures is that they can be a shared experience for gamers. For example, lots of people have experienced some version of The Keep on the Borderlands or various incarnations of Pavis, Sun County, Big Rubble or the Spinward Marches, sometimes multiple times or with different gaming groups.

Of course, wives, kiddies and the rest happened to me and my friends too. A bit over a decade ago I started a regular monthly roleplaying session, as a compromise -- but it has lasted. I agree it does make long-term campaigns more difficult. It's hard to remember plot points. Sometimes people couldn't make it, so we ended up having several campaigns on the go (not all GM'd by me). Sometimes we'd have a meh session, which is more depressing when it's your only session for the month. I'd prefer to to game more frequently. By 2019 I was getting a bit burnt out with it, and a bit bored with my long-term Nehwon campaign and my players' characters. I started a Renaissance campaign and my players bailed after the second session. Then 2020 happened and RPGing ceased for me until the middle of the year when I got contacted by an overseas friend who wanted to play D&D.

I think my regular sessions will resume, maybe with some changes next year. I did like the 6-week block idea -- thanks @David Scott. I might propose that to my players. I got sick of monthly chopping and changing between campaigns -- often due to very late cancellations. It resulted in poorly-planned and unsatisfying sessions.

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