Note: ‘NPC’ means ‘non-player character’ in a video or tabletop game which is contrasted with PC or ‘Player Character’ the avatar of a real person in a game world.
I have a friend, let’s call them the bard. The bard is kind, enthusiastic, and playful. They talk a lot about how much our friendship means to them, have given some wonderful gifts, and we’ve had some great times together. And yet, there’s a something there that frustrates me… a way in which this friendship feels unsatisfying that is difficult to wrap in word and explain.
And I think I’ve finally realized what it is: to my friend the bard, I’m an NPC. An NPC they’re fond of certainly, but like all NPCs there is a way in which I’m not truly real. Oh, certainly, the bard will act like I’m real; when they’re interested we’ll go on adventures together or fight monsters. But the moment the bard isn’t interested, they’re fully not interested. We only hang when I’m relevant to the adventure or crisis de jour for the bard; they’re fundamentally bored by the details of my life (as a Player Character in an RPG would be uninterested in the mundanity of an NPC’s farming unless therein lay adventure to be had there).
The bard’s problems are always the bigger issues, the ones that are more pressing and need to get worked on first. There is also the assumption on the part of the bard that I will be interested in whatever the bard is working on/that I’ll be along for the ride; but this never works both ways.
I’ve begun to suspect that, moreso than my other friends, the bard doesn’t quite see me; they see (and interact with) a simplified version of me.
Is this bad? No. Am I being mistreated? No. But it takes work to remind myself that when I’m shiny, when I actually have their attention it can feel amazing; it can feel like we have this amazing depth of connection but that it will always shift off of me when they find something more compelling to focus on. We’ll still go on adventures together now and again, but ultimately I’m increasingly interested in all the work I do tending my shop, practicing my craft, and thus I end up spending my time with people who want to share in all my life; whether we’re adventuring or not.
Just wanted to post a quick note that my essay collection about the writing process, game design, and specific commentary about the creation of the Salt in Wounds campaign setting Design Notes is available for purchase now.
Click here to buy your copy today.
I launched a Kickstarter for my Campaign Setting ‘The City of Salt in Wounds’ last week. It’s currently 460% percent funded (ie, it’s raised over $23000 dollars) and in the words of one blogger is ‘Smashing through Stretch Goals like a Tarrasque smashes through a first level party.’ Holy crap, this is awesome.
Some stuff related to the Kickstarter that I haven’t posted here:
Salt in Wounds Actual Play on GMs Showcase Podcast
Salt in Wounds Kickstarter Interview on RPG Academy
Salt in Wounds Kickstarter Interview on Legends of Tabletop (Coming Soon)
Salt in Wounds Kickstarter Interview on DM-Nastics (Coming Soon)
Guest Post on World Builder Blog (Coming Soon)
I considered –briefly- writing an essay about why I’m not playing Pokémon Go despite it seeming to be nearly perfectly designed to appeal to me: a breakout, hyper popular Augmented Reality Game (ARG) that is currently dominating the overall geek conversation that all my friends are playing *and* you catch + battle Pokémon? That checks off so many of my ‘interest’ boxes it’s almost obscene. But simply put, I’m not playing because -at this point in my life- I have to be almost Spartan in my selections of past-times & hobbies, and I’ve decided that I don’t want to add any that involve a screen (since so much of my life is staring at one anyway) even if the screen in question is mobile and is actively aimed at getting me to interface with (a mediated version) of the larger world. I can’t do everything, I can’t play every game; and endlessly chasing the new hotness means I’d never get to enjoy anything.
However, I did want to touch upon the great promise of Pokémon Go as the first ARG to hit critical mass and so fully breach into the popular imagination. I also wanted to explain what it is about this promise that I believe makes it one of the most helpful trends I see in the world right now. That is, I wanted to write about Pokémon Go and all the ways we are getting better at inviting ourselves and one another to play. Continue reading
Starring Distracted Dad & Very Nice Mom
[After discussing where John lives and how often he frequents the park]
Woman: So are you a full time Dad?
John: No, I work when she’s asleep.
Woman: What kind of work do you do?
[John attempts to refocus on the conversation while stopping his daughter from ripping out a 9 month old’s eye as she seems keen on recreating the fight between the Bride and Elle Driver from Kill Bill 2.]
John: I’m Continue reading