Well, today was passably good. It rained all day, and that always puts me in a good mood. A little water on the fire if you will. Thus, I'm no longer smoldering, but unhappy none the less. You see, as Leslie and Claire both pointed out, it must've been a horrendous experience to get me upset, and it was. Allow me to explain.
I like Role-playing. I figure since I can't act (stage fright) and I can't write (no plot), Role-Playing is my soul recourse, and how I long for it (though my stage fright plays into it, it's not so bad). For this reason, I can churn out massive amounts of characters - Elven Wizards, Human Fighters, Felinoid Huntercats, Goblin Bursters, Juicer Assassins - but I put alot of thought into each character, and try and make them as 'human' (read: realistic, in many cases) as possible. I Role-Play because I have a character concept and I want to see that character play out and overcome obstacles, and grow, and maybe become a hero or a legend, or at least die grandly.
My experience in Role-Playing is quite limited. I've played online through e-mails for a number of years now, but that's vastly removed from Real Life play. Even aside from that, finding a Game Master online is worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack - it's like trying to find a specific strand of hay. I eventually resorted to running my own games, in a sense living through my players, just because i'm bursting with ideas that have no outlet. My true goal is to play, though, not run.
This past summer I was blessed by having Leslie introduce me to Parker and the gang, who let me roll up a Bonegnawer for their Werewolf Campaign. I only played in but so many sessions, but in that time I developed a feel for Akio. And ending his career (though not his life) with a few footprints in the asphalt and an elbow to a guy's temple made me feel contented, to some extent.
When I came to CUA, I learned that Aaron played D&D, and naturally wanted to get into a game - ANY game, just as long as I could play. And so, he introduced me to his group - Ben, Abner, Yon, and Ca...dam, his name's on the tip of my tongue. Anyways, they're nice enough guys, but...
I've now played in three sessions with them. And in that time I've gone through 3 characters. For those of you unable to do the math, that's a character per session. The first was Janus - a dark, sullen fighter who had a past he didn't want to share. He didn't die, he just didn't DO anything. After he was introduced, Ben's campaign was dropped and Aaron decided to try GMing.
The second was Cedric - a cocky, hot-headed fighter. For some reason yet to be determined, he got on a ship headed for the orient. He never left that ship. One day, the group woke up after a storm and the ship was empty - cargo, crew, captain, everything - without a trace in the middle of the ocean. This would have been interesting save the GM gave us no clues, no hints on what to do. We were stuck in the middle of the ocean on a mysteriously-abandoned ship.
Then the pirates came.
Pirates being pirates, the boarded our ship, and in an attempt to gain the advantage my character (who could fight blind) jumped into the belly of the ship. The rest of the characters, for some reason, followed me into the darkness. When the pirates were above us, someone got the bright idea to pull the ladder down - marginally intellegent, I admit. But, *Of Course* the pirates noticed. And did they jump down into the hold like any decent, first-level adversary? No, no, no, they couldn't be STUPID. Heaven forbid. No, they *OF COURSE* have a smoke bomb, which they drop down on us, and when I told Aaron I was going to look for it with my feet, hey envisioned me kicking it down under the planks, out of reach, so we would all suffocate.
Thank the lord I didn't say 'with my hands', I may have CHUCKED it at an ally and causede massive head trauma. No, likely I would have just burned my hands severely or something, making my fighter (who can no longer hold a weapon) useless. but no, I said feet, booted it, and doomed us all to slow suffocation.
But all was not lost - Ben quickly told the Barbarian to punch a hole in the ceiling so we could climb out. Good idea. He punched 2, and we split 2 and 2 and came up on either side of the mid-level deck. Between us were a dozen Pirates. one fell - three - seven - ten - all twelve, dead. And none of us scratched save the girl-fighter. So Cedric, charged from the battle, climbs up to the top deck - really the only logical way to continue the battle. Not the smartest thing, no, but THAT'S HIS CHARACTER. cedric's the type of guy who doesn't quite know when to stop a fight, least of all when he's WINNING. He'll never learn, now.
He jumps up and stands just long enough for the Barbarian to follow him up - he drops just as the Barbarian gets up there, douple slashes from twin longswords. I'm dragged below decks by my Cleric companion and healed back to 4 HP, I believe, while the barbarian continues to mow down the enemy - swing, kill, swing, kill, swing, kil - two more, four more, eight more - in total he alone dropped 17 pirates that night, along with my three and at least one or two others from Yon and Ben. Twenty+ men dead, from four.
The barbarian drops, and the pirated *decide* that they aren't going to cut their losses of 20 men and leave - no, they're going to tear up the upper deck so they can get the FOUR GUYS who killed them - that's four men who have (effectively) killed 5 men each. When that battle turns to losing, the jump down at us and we drop a couple more, then four more, then silence. And they throw torches down on us. Three, twelve, twenty - no, we don't get a chance to fight the fire. or rather we do, but Aaron literally says "There's too much, the boat WILL sink."
Cedric once again goes uptop - at 4 HP he can only eat about one kit from these guys, maybe two, but 4 HP is 1/2 his total, so it really doesn't matter. He falls again, of course, but to his 'companions' come to get him? No, for the sake of running away under the supposition of death, they jump out the back and swim away - leaving our hero, Cedric, unconcious but breathing, to die a fiery death and lay in a watery grave. All in one session, and hardly fitting for any character, let alone a character destind for greatness.
Ertai's story is even more disapointing. Ertai is the character that I rolled up after I heard Cedric bit it (yes, I wasn't there when they jumped ship - I had to be rushed to the metro t'get home, and they told me the day after). Ertai, though, was a masterpiece. He was a Wizard Prodigy - Seventeen and already an accomplished wizard. He'd been through the required classes at the local accademy and graduated, with honors, years before his peers would even be eligable. He had stayed around to study, fascinated by the knowlege he'd absorbed. But he wasn't perfect - he was rather spoiled. You see, EVERYONE had ALWAYS praised him for his 'amazing natural ability' and this had gotten to him, you could say. He was SURE he was the greatest wizard to ever live, if not now then after he'd had appropriote time to research. He may well have been. We'll never know.
His school master freared for Ertai - he saw everything as potential research, as raw data waiting to be analyzed, processed, categorized, and filed - everything, including people. In an effort to get Ertai to grasp this truth - that people are people - he sent Ertai out into the world. He saw it as an opportunity for Ertai to intereact with other people and see them as more than study. Ertai saw it as a chance to explore what a Library could never provide - and a means to show the world just how amazing he really was. None of these hopes saw fruition.
What did Aaron do? Did he set up a scenario where Ertai could save the party, and cement his place in the party? Did he have the party save Ertai and cement Ertai's loyalty - or at least base interest? Did he at least have Ertai wash up on the same shore as the cast aways? No, no, no, nothing this epic. We ARE only human after all.... Ertai was just *there*. The best explaination was that Ertai had been one of the miscellaneous characters that he's mentioned but never encluded in the story (infact, when he first wanted to dispose of said characters, did he have a sea serpent attack us long enough to take some beating,eat the merchants, and then decide it'd had enough punnishment and leave? No, he had them jump over board and swim away...).
Anyways, Ertai's story is sadder than Cedric's because Cedric died due, inpart, to his character. he SHOULDN'T have, and aaron shouldn't have expected so much fromFIRST LEVEL CHARACTERS, but that's not the point. He hid, and Cedric was dead. Ertai, however...
He was an awsome character - an amzing wizard who was not only increadibly intellegent and quick-witted (numbers-wise) but could also take some mount of damage - something most mages can't. But he was *phased* onto this island and pretty much just followed the other three as they searched the island. We came to a mountain with a cave, and voices in the cave. We try sneaking around to get a better view, but skrew up.
Reasonably enough, three of the SAME pirates (figures we'd wash up on their island - it's almost cinemaic) come out of the cave. But when they see us, do they charge us, like any decent villain would, even though WE (the players and GM) know it would hardly be a fight? No, two run back inside and one stays and watches us. Of course, we kill him, but figure we'll stick around and wait for the other guys to come back - revenge for the ship - mayhaps for Cedric, as well, but I think too highly of my comrades, I believe.
In anycase, Ben gets the BRIGHT idea to toss a rope across the clearing when we hear alot of them comming, in order to trip them up. Not a bad idea, really, but sadly they saw the rope fly through the air. It was a stupid move - really, waiting for them to come back was stupid, but we HAD killed over twenty of them before. But did they come back with reasonable numbers to assault FOUR men? Did they come back with eight? Ten? Fourteen? No, no, nothing that sane - THIRTY or more of these bastards pour out of the cave. Combat ensues.
The combat, really, went almost decently - the girl dropped, Ertai was out of spells and at 1 HP, the Barbarian had taken out an additional 8 guys (25 cumulative from the boat), but the Bard cast fog and we managed to escape. Then, Aaron said he was stuck. Why, one might ask? Because we couldn't escape alive.
WTF and various other explitives come to mind. WHY won't we survive this, one might ask? It's simple, really - these pirates are insane. Instead of ignoring us and staying in their fortifyed caverns, or even just sending out a group of two, maybe ten or so each, to search us out, the WHOLE FLIPPING TRIBE (or at least all 80 of them left standing who can fight) decide to ALL come out, en masse, to search for us. we can't escape alive because they are travelling in groups of twenty each and looking to scour the entire island and KILL FOUR MEN. Ertai, at 1 HP, lastend an amazing 2 rounds (12 sec) and even succeeded in grounding 2 pirates. But his character was never played out and he died on the end of a longsword on his first day of play.
And the REALLY sucky thing is that had we gone THE OTHER WAY around the island, we would have found boats and key plot hooks. Now, I can understand that if you plan something out geographically, it's bad form to warp space just so your characters can find it, but with something THAT CRITICAL, it's absurd!
But the fun continues. Later on, riding back to his place, Aaron criticized me for not 'playing your mage smart' and letting him die. He said that if he'd rolled stats the way I did, his first priority would be self-preservation. Well, I'm SORRY, but I'm a NWBIE, and this is (technically) MY FIRST FLIPPING CHARACTER. When he went on about how he'd been GMing for so many years and seen Level 1 characters take on much worse (he quoted a Lich, at one piont) I wanted to say 'Well, I've been playing for so many HOURSE - cut me some FLIPPING SLACK.' I don't know if it's nessisarily apparent, but I have to be pretty steamed to cuss, and in any of these cases, I intended to say then what I imply now. Needless to say (though I already did) i didn't say much after the game ended.
Now then, we come to the subject of the post (collective groan from the audience). No, no, no, that means I'm finally ending, not beginning. You see, two types of players exist in this world: Role-Players and Roll-Players. A Role-Player is interested with story, character development, and acting over mechanics, statistical power, and Munchkinism (the ability to twist the rules in such a way as to 'legally' make a walking tank). A Roll-Player, of course, is just the opposite.
In the end, Roll-Players run out of things to do - you get stronger and stronger, first you defeat 120 pirates, then enforce your will over a town, seige a castle, conquer a nation - by the time you take over the world at 5th level, you have to start fighting trans-dimentional raiders and demolishing planests to have any challenge.
Role-Players are never out in the cold because they always have some new idea they haven't tried yet. It's often joked that a Role-Player would play a bind, mute, deaf, numb, parapaligic scholar who is tormented because of the great wealth of knowlege he has and his inability to exoress it to the world. Yeah, it's an exageration, but...just imagine....
Needless to say, I fancy myself a Role-Plasyer and (of course) I should suspect you would agree with me. Now, while I won't flat out say that Aaron et al are Roll-Players... Well, they have the SEMBLANCE of caring. I mean, they come up with interesting character concepts, but that's pretty much where their role-playing ends and their roll-playing begins (aside from the language they choose to use when speaking in-character). Mostly, their character concepts exist simply to masque their rules abuse, and give their characters some semblance of viability.
To wrap everything up (relieved sigh from the audience), I got so mad because what could have been wonderful, what could have been amazing, what I could have loved nearly half as much as girls, what crumpled, burned, and tossed in my face. The game was ruined, as even Aaron admitted, but he would accept no fault in the matter, and that too bugged me.
And now Leslie finally realizes the extent to which I an captivated by Role-Playing.