Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
The Creep On The Borderlands
Now before we begin the next part I think I should once again go over something for newer readers and just what is a role-playing game?
So, what is a role playing game, or an RPG as it is sometimes called? Well, do you remember when you were kids and you wouldplaying ‘Cops And Robbers’? Or ‘Cowboys And Indians’? Or ‘Lets Bury The Geeky Kids Up To Their Necks In The Dirt’?
Actually, that last game doesn’t really suit our purposes, just forget about it. I know I’ve been trying to since the third grade.
Where were we? Ah yes, what is a role playing game? As I said before I am sure you remember the games of imaginary adventure you had as a child. Inevitably you and one of your playmates would get into an argument over what had happened. Did the Cop shoot the Robber or did he miss? Can the Indian fire a bow while riding his horse? Do we remember where we buried those third graders?
No wait. Scratch that last one again.
Still though, I am sure you can remember how your pretend adventures were derailed by disagreements about what had happened, over who had won and who had lost.
Role playing games are playing pretend for grown ups. A game master creates an imaginary world and all its supporting cast. The other players take on the role of characters and act out stories within the game master’s world. Think of it as collective storytelling if you will, or perhaps interactive fiction. The important thing to remember is that as adults playing a role playing game we remove the childish element of arguing and crying over who did what. Instead we have page after page of rulebooks to site in our ever more heated arguments over whether or not a half orc can wear elven plate mail.
There are several accessories that go hand and hand with a role playing game; maps drawn on graph paper, painted miniatures and gobs of junk food. The player characters have adventures and gain experience points and treasure. The first of these role playing games was Dungeons & Dragons and that was the one Will and I were heading off to play.
It was late on a Saturday night when we hit the road, I had just gotten out of work . Since Will knew where we were going I drove and he gave me directions. The house we were going to was on the border between the towns of Colonie and Watervliet.
Watervliet, New York had long been supported by the munitions factory in the heart of the town. A whole community had sprung up around the Watervliet Arsenal, but as fortunes dwindled and jobs moved elsewhere, the once bustling neighborhoods had begun to dwindle into decrepitude. The whole place looked like it was in the middle of a going out of business sale.
Will directed me to a dead end street where all the houses had for sale signs in front of them. Only one of those houses had any lights. “Here we are,” he said, “just park anywhere.”
I parked my rusty Monte Carlo under a streetlight and cut the engine. The neighborhood made me a little nervous, it was so empty.
Will bounded out of the car and waved me on towards the modest two story house. The front door was unlocked but Will did some kind of coded knock before walking inside. The lower level of the house was bare, no furniture, rugs or anything. I asked, “Are you sure this is the right place?”
“Of course,” Will led me upstairs where I found furnishings, light and the guys that would end up being my peer group for the next few years.
“Ah Will. Good to see you. And this must be Al. Intriguing hair,” a tall blond man with tragically large ears shook my hand. He wore primarily black and brown.
Will nodded, “Al this is our Dungeon Master Norm.”
“Good to meet you,” I smiled. He wasn’t letting go of my hand and I didn’t know quite what to do, “Really nice.”
Norm looked me over appraisingly, “Al? Short for Albert?”
“Why uh, yes. Did I say it was nice to meet you? You know you’ve got a very strong grip there.”
“Are you of Dutch descent? Russian?”
“Uh no. I’m Polish and Italian,” I looked to Will for help but he was already mingling with the others.
“That’s OK too,” he released my hand.
“I didn’t realize this was an exclusive club,” I joked but Norm had already sat back down and turned his attention to his rulebooks and notes.
Will was talking to a guy with rat-like features and an unnaturally thick mustache. He waved me over, “Al! This is Curtis.”
“Hi,” I said forgoing the handshake for a wave.
He replied by raising his right hand to shoulder level with the palm facing inward, “Tal.”
“Thanks?” Before I could ask what the Hell he meant by that Will dragged me over to the next player.
“Now this is Buddy,” Will said introducing me to a guy busily mixing drinks.
“Welcome to our merry band. What’s your poison?” He looked up at me, he was bearded with glasses, and so very drunk.
“Hi Buddy. I’m Al,” I said, “and I’ll just have a soda.”
“Scotch and soda got it.”
“No. A coke.”
“Rum and Coke?”
“Tea-toddler huh?” he said with a smirk.
“I’m driving.” I said.
He waved me off, “Sure. Whatever. Someone’s got to do it I guess.”
“You got cigarette ashes in my soda.”
“You know in Buffalo they call soda ‘pop’,” a twitchy looking kid said to me from the couch. His eyes kept darting around the room like he was expecting a mafia hit. I offered him my hand, “I’m Al. I’m sure you heard.”
“Eddie,” he said.
“I like your Night Ranger t-shirt. They were a good group.”
“Yeah sure,” a confused look crossed his features. He began to dig through his notes, “It was clean.”
I made a show of checking my watch, “Well, look at the time. I should probably…”
“But...” Will said, “...we just got here.”