Wednesday, June 3, 2015

William Myrl; Letters To No One (7)

Dear No One,
Given that my game-mastering career may soon come to an end, I choose to enlighten you as to the intricacies of the practice itself as it exists in my domain. For many years, roleplaying games were banned. They fostered escape tendencies, violence, weird fantasy fugues. The official policy was that dnd would make you crazy, they taught COs this, and in some places still do. I have been told by a corrections officer that many people cannot tell the difference between the game and reality. He was absolutely serious. It's like Dr. Seuss up in this bitch sometimes.
A year or more ago the books were reapproved. It was ten years since they were banned because someone was killed over something completely unrelated. We had them before, photo or hand copied, torn out of bindings or bleary memories; passing around monster manuals like bricks of heroin. Now we could order them, and dice sets as well. We had been making our dice out of paper molds and salt. Pepper was too heavy, and paper filling was too light. Mine were always wonky, but I knew a fellow who would make a set for a bag of coffee that was near indistinguishable from the real thing. Inmates are remarkably handy creatures; you should see what we do to boil water without a microwave. So now we have the books and the dice, the maps and the miniatures are craft objects. Grids are easily, if tediously, replicated. Figures we make by soaking toilet paper and shaping it, then letting it dry. Pressing it into a toothpaste cap is a good method for consistent circles, and pyramids are quick variety. The dry pieces are colored with markers, given patterns and sometimes names. It is all very exciting. 
When it comes down to actual gaming, a schedule is usually preferred to spontaneity. Nailing it down depends on school and work schedules, when they exist, and the all-important TV lineup. The day is broken up into what I think of as "periods" between lock downs. The morning period is the longest, spanning from six thirtyish to 12:45. Breakfast and lunch subdivide it, they both occur in ranges of about an hour and a half, the averages being 7 and 11:45. A game session between 8 and 11 is as extended as is gets, with the other periods not breaking 2 hours of uninterrupted time. Not many wish to stay up in the morning to play pretend, however; I certainly don't. And outside recreation is available during the day, conflicting those who value exercise. At night, others complain the pod is too loud/busy, and there is less time. Some people are always available, and some will never be pleased. I have had the company of both.
What else is there to say? DnD is a game of imagination and communication; both qualities uncommon enough in the world at large and all the more precious in a place such as this. I have played with perhaps two dozen people in the last few years, ran four campaigns that lasted 6, 3, 3 and 6 months respectively, and I feel this qualifies me to cast judgement. It is not worth it. There are moments of humor and accomplishment, of camaraderie and mutual creation, and they are far too few. In the last campaign, which is finishing in the next week, I had to make two groups to accommodate the players who couldn't play together nicely. I have had an average of one player quitting or
threatening to quit every week. There is only still a group because they always come back, usually within hours. I am virtually certain one of my players has an undiagnosed personality disorder, probably histrionic, and in a previous group we once had a death threat at the table.
Specifically, he said he would cut off the others head and stuff it in the icebox. This was not delivered in a bantering manner. They were arguing about who was looking at whose character. It was a dominance thing, as with the apes.
The time has come for me to put/away my staff, and all my books/to molder, in there serried nooks/my furnace fires, returned to soot/the magic gone, and all my power/forgotten, with the faerie light/and I am welcoming the night/ to come, within the hour...

I won't have much to say about the game after this, I maybe promise. It would be nice if I could play with you someday.
Yours, William Myrl (7)

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