The Hands that Mold: My First RPG Group

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For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about my very first RPG group. (That’s Role Playing Game group for the non-Geek among you.)

I met them when I was a sophomore in high school. Half of them were members of the marching band, like I was, so I knew them by sight before school even started. It wasn’t for another six months, in December, that I actually got to know most of them.

I’d spent most of the past six months depressed, because we’d just moved and I had no friends yet. So when a fellow flute player (we’ll call her “T” for the purposes of this discussion) asked me to come to her house after school to play a role playing game with her brother and his friends, I happily accepted. I might finally have made a friend at school, and she was inviting me to meet her other friends.

The role playing game in question turned out to be Changeling: The Dreaming, a White Wolf RPG. I’d never played any kind of RPG before, let alone a table top or pen and paper one. I had no idea what I was getting into. But I stayed and hung out with them and listened to the session of the game, and by the end of the day I’d created my own character so I could join the adventure.

I started spending a lot of time with the group. There were seven of us that first year, with T and I as the only girls. She started dating one of the guys the following summer, and since she’d become my closest friend, I spent a lot of time with her and her boyfriend, and Matt (one of the other players) was usually along with us. This led to a great deal of good natured teasing of Matt and I, especially when it was just the four of us. T and her guy thought Matt and I should have been dating.

I never felt that way about Matt. It was years later before that finally made sense, but I knew even back then that there would never be anything romantic between us. He was like a big brother to me.

That summer was also when I decided to sit down and write my very first novel. It was a YA fantasy and all the characters were based on my friends in the Changeling RPG. I finished the entire novel that summer with a lot of encouragement from T.

I was so excited about the novel that T and I devised a system of our own so the group could experience it with me, and I ran an RPG following the story line of the novel, mostly anyway. It was so much fun. And it got me talking to the Storyteller (the person who runs the game in the White Wolf parlance) and Matt about running other games and participating in other games, and story in general.

The RPG group had become so much more to me than just fellow players over the course of that first year I knew them. They became my closest friends, the people who recommended books for me to read, and shared my enthusiasm for fantasy stories. I spent hours hanging out at one person’s house or another while the rest of the group took turns playing Super Smash Brothers Melee (the first one on Nintendo 64). Some days it was all seven of us. Sometimes just me and T, but most often is was T, her boyfriend, Matt and I.

T was instrumental in encouraging me to write that very first novel, and everyone in the group gave me ideas and liked to hear about mine. They were my gateway into a whole new world of fantasy and reality and mixing the two. Eventually the Storyteller moved away, and the group began to morph and change. T and I drifted apart over time, but Matt remained a part of my life. Of the seven of them, he had the biggest impact, but that’s for another day and another post.

Who were the friends who shaped you the most when you were younger? Who helped turn you into a writer, or a reader, or a geek, or whatever else you identify as?

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