My favorite hobby and source of entertainment is role-playing games. D&D, Vampire, Mage, and the like. It’s been years and years since I picked up a polyhedron, but the stars have aligned, a new group has gathered, and (most importantly) I’ve been given permission to leave the house to play! I get to game again!
This past week, I pulled down my trusty gaming binder, a 17-year old black binder that holds the mummified remains of characters. And in these creased and yellowing pages, I see nearly a dozen fractured reflections of me from years and years ago. Whenever I page through this binder, it’s always astounding how vivid the memories are that come flooding back.
It’s like hearing a song and remembering where you were and who you were with and these memories are like that…but they’re also memories of strange worlds, epic adventures and fantastic characters:
Late nights and pizza in the swivel-chair room in the UMM Social Science building / wielding a holy sword and enduring the maddening taunts of a ghost.
Sitting on the floor in the candlelight of Travis’s off-campus apartment / crashing a plane as one half (the insane half) of a vampiric Lewis and Martin routine.
Playing in that big old house in Minneapolis where Martin lived / tolerating human mages and pulling political strings from the sewers as Nixon the Nosferatu.
I also lifted my venerable, worn dice bag from where it squatted on my shelf. A hand-me-down from Martin, this fringed leather pouch has traveled many miles with me since college. The talismanic dice contained therein were never overly kind to me, but I think may have been a blessing in disguise.
The only time they performed exceedingly well was in rolling up a nearly perfect character, Bwiste, a character who’s ability scores should have brought limitless might and power…but who ultimately was killed in his first session. I gave Bwiste to a friend in need of a fast character, but the curse remained; Bwiste again died in his first night of adventure.
These dice told and rolled the fortunes of my many characters who, while they slumber pressed between the covers of my binder, are still very precious to me. Among my favorites are:
Rolly the warrior who suffered hernias and died nobly but alone (and unaided) by the claws of a wild beast. (DECEASED)
Baron Don the Paladin, holy warrior with a loose-ish interpretation of “Lawful Good”, hater of ghosts, and friend of Untz the barbarian.
Nedved the martial artist; hemophiliac, master of the (much maligned) hummingbird style. (DECEASED)
Nixon the Nosferatu, master of the sewers, reluctant ally of mages, and unlikely political power. (UNDECEASED)
Teeth the Life Mage, pusher of reality’s limits, pusher of gamemaster’s limits, first of two characters ejected from a game.
Burser the Malkavian, crasher of planes, annoyer of many (but mostly Rael), and t-shirt slogan writer; still carries a torch for Sammi the Samedi. (UNDECEASED)
Darkson the Bard, master spinner of swords, tales, and lies, friend of Soth, 2nd character to be ejected from a game (but did return some years later due to my vigorous lobbying).
I miss them all, and the sad fact is that I’ll probably never play any of them again. Thanks to GMs Travis and Martin, and all the folks in the various groups I’ve played with over the years who helped me tell great stories with these characters.