Reflections on Friendship and Tabletop RPGs.
Reflections on Friendship and Tabletop RPGs.
Originally published as “I have chronic hives and used to play a tabletop RPG. Sorry, ladies. I’m taken” on 4/27/2010. I’ve ommitted an intro that originally preceded the article. If you really want to read it, http://mikalkhill.blogspot.com is the address where you will find the original post.
Ash Skellington, my ranger, got old and decided he’d had enough of the adventuring game. He was a guy that hated zombies and, despite being an allegedly lawful-good character, had huge leanings towards the Chaotic Neutral end of the spectrum. After inheriting a keep, he once almost incited a riot by exclaiming, “There are vampires everywhere!” on a crowded city street after a strange occult murder had occurred in the castle. He was basically just me with two swords and a Deck of Many Things.The gaming group has been disbanded for something like 7 years, maybe longer than that. We all moved different places, and it just became impossible to continue without the full group. In the past month or so, though, strange tragedy befell the group, first when Scott (also known as Datam, a violent, dumb, and reckless dwarf prone to nearly killing the party with his haphazard Rock Burst spells) fell ill just a month before our old DM, Chris Newman was going to be visiting for the first time since I’d gotten married. Me and Scott parted ways on weird terms, sorta drifted apart and really only communicated anymore through haphazard Facebook messages. At one time we were pretty close, though, and Chris, Kellie (Chris’s wife and a surgeon who ran “Cassandra” the wizard, who was married to Chris’s NPC “Thomas” in-game) and myself made it a point to go visit while they were in town. Seeing Scott laid out on a breathing machine was pretty jarring, not least of all because his father was in the room. At the time, it seems the prognosis was grim, but Scott is making progress last I heard and hopefully I will hear more news soon.
Last week we received another, infinitely bleaker, piece of news. My former Manager from FYE, Bob (also known as Balthazar the paladin) passed away in his sleep inexplicably at the age of 43. Bob was, in all honesty, one of the worst managers I ever had. Decidedly hands-off, and prone to condescending behavior, I did not stay long after he took the reigns at FYE. His management style was perfect for the larger stores he had ran in the North East, but it did not seem to translate to the small store we ran in Concord. I say this not to disrespect the man, honestly quite the opposite. It’s just necessary to give you some background before I get into relating the rest of this story and it is part of reaching my ultimate point.We still played D&D together at Chris’s house after I left FYE and over time Bob and I did actually become, dare I say, friends. We were never super close, but I was still more emotional than I expected when he passed. I suddenly found myself actually FONDLY remembering how Bob had let me die in that dungeon because of our (pretty silly) real-life disagreement. I laughed out loud thinking back to Bob’s paladin that once tried to get out of the restrictions against a paladin running away from a fight or turning their back on a foe by “slowly backing out” while the party was mangled by some form of encroaching terror.Bob was a quiet guy, socially awkward as they come, but when you got him going he was honestly very funny, with a dry sense of humor that broke out in mumbled comments over the course of God-Only-Knows how many gaming sessions at Chris’s house. When I think about him, I honestly barely remember what he looked like in the record store, I mostly remember a kinda heavyset guy with a sly smile and lazy sly-fox eyes, bemusedly watching everyone else and looking for a solid place to inject a sarcastic remark with his arms crossed at the far end of the table.Bob was not a perfect guy and he was not one of my closest friends, but honestly looking back now as an adult, the things that infuriated me about the guy so much as a twenty year old kid are actually things I now remember as almost endearing. All of our friends are flawed. I’m not exactly always Mr. Tact. I’ve spent years wrestling with an extremely volatile temper and struggling to keep myself from bending to it’s Datam-like recklessness. The point is (and there is one, believe it or not)… These flaws are what make us the people that we are. They are the things that shape our personality, and ultimately, it’s the stuff like this we will laugh and reminisce about when they are gone.
Chris picked up Ash again, he made some form of appearance as an NPC in the gaming group he ran in MN, but as far as I know, Ash is still at the Keep. Last time I saw him he’d had a kid and gotten married. Maybe Balthazar, the smarmy gold-loving paladin, is still living there and hanging out with Thomas and Cassandra. Maybe they had kids? Who knows.
I’ll have to ask them.
Originally published at mikalkhill.com.