It’s been awhile since I had a moment to update the blog. The end of a semester combined with holiday cheer and then getting sick has kept me away sadly. L At the beginning of the month a site named Black Girl Nerds did a podcast on rpg’s. The guest speakers were all black gamers and I was initially going to be on the show myself until I got sick and needed to tend to some health needs.
Still the show was excellent and they are lining up to do a part 2, of which I’ve been invited to be a guest on again. In the meantime though I thought I’d go back and answer the questions that were asked on the show, if for no other reasons than to offer up a bit more about me. If you want to listen to the show follow this link.
What got you into table top gaming?
My friend Andrew, I was in the 11th grade and he asked me if I had considered gaming before. He was putting together a new table top group and he thought I might be interested. So it was Andrew as the GM and my friends Lance and Robert (who also happened to be black). We gammed for about a year and then stopped around the time we became seniors. To much was going on at that time to be able to get much gaming done. So I continued the hobby when I went off to college finding both some online groups and an offline campus group to play in.
What was your first rpg?
My first rpg was Rifts, done by Palladium Games. We were adventuring off into the vampire infested lands of Mexico. Andrew allowed us two characters (so that the overall party size was about 6). So my first character was a Ley Line Walker (who happened to be black) and an elven merc (which Andrew seemed to enjoy tormenting).
We were also briefly introduced to Shadowrun that first year of gaming. When I went off to college I had also become a huge World of Darkness fan.
What are your favorite role playing games and are there any that you would recommend?
I have two favorite rpg’s. My first is Mage the Ascension, which I started playing in college. The game offered an amazingly level of freedom when it came to designing a mage. Wizards were my favorite class to play as, so an entire game based on the concept of having magic was right up my alley. Over the years I’ve come to love the Technocracy most of all when it comes to mage, mixing enlightened science with modern tech. I had the privelage of playing the game one last time before leaving for graduate school when my friend Peter ran our World of Darkness group through a series of adventures. Mage happens to be one of his favorite games too.
My second favorite rpg is Legend of the Five Rings. It’s a game about samurai drama, or what passes for samurai drama for us poor westerners. It has an interactive storyline which was very appealing to me at the time I started playing it. One of the friends to get me into the game, a guy named Jacob, used to tell me stories upon stories of how the players of the game shaped the overall canon story. L5R is also the game where I’ve been most involved in the rpg community as a business. I’ve gotten the chance to play test for the game, submit NPC’s and once even put together a web expansion for two books.
So it has a warm place in my heart.
If there was a game that I would recommend (outside of my favorites), I would have to go with Pathfinder. Basic western fantasy style rping, building upon the 3.5 ruleset. So it's not that hard of a transition if you've played 3rd Edition DnD. Also I love the way the company that makes the game Paizo supports both alternative lifestyles and minority characters in its gaming lines.
Do you do any larping?
I have from time to time. I don’t anymore as it’s been my least favorite form of rpg. I think what turns me off is that the larp games I played in never technically ever stopped once the game ended for the night. People would spend their entire week plotting and planning and organizing for the next game and for me, once the game was over I was ready to do other stuff with my week.
What kind of diversity do you find in your gaming groups and how often is there a person of color in the game?
Somewhat small. With a few exceptions I find myself the only minority at the table. I find that even odder when I look back and consider that that was the case for the online games I was involved in too. There are notable exceptions. My current GM is Asian, and my last GM was Mexican. I only got the chance to game with him once even though we’d known each other for years and often talked about gaming.
I often find that if I’m not playing the minority then nine times out of ten there isn’t much diversity in the games I’m in. So I sometimes feel compelled to represent the other side. Not always black characters mind you.
Have you had an experience where a person responds to you and not your character?
I think the most common experience of people responding to me and not the character is when someone is playing a racist and they and everyone around them are constantly trying to assure me that the racist views of their character do not reflect their real views. As if I didn’t understand that already about role playing.
Though there was this one time where me and my friends really felt it was getting dangerous for me. We were gaming with this guy that I had briefly gamed with before. So when a new group got started I invited him to game because he offered up his place to game at and free food. I didn’t really think he was racist at first but then he slowly became more and more aggressive towards my character (where were playing L5R at the time). At first we thought he just didn’t agree with how I was playing the character. So I made a new one and he still was aggressive towards my character.
As the weeks went by I began to feel he was being directly aggressive towards me and several of the players also agreed. The breaking moment came when we were taking a small break from the action and we looked at the books on his mantle to notice that they were all Nazi related/themed books.
Needless to say I stopped gaming with the guy, as did the rest of the group after that discovery