RP Talk (Episode 2) Powered by the Fishpocalypse

Graham Gentz and Andrew Mullen discuss Fishtown, Andrew’s setting of cosmic choruses, underwater politics, and merfolk resonances. How does such a thing work? Is there Land? Why does Andrew like fish so much? Graham and Andrew rp talk it out!

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An Old Fashioned Love Nerd

[Thanks and apologies to Paul Williams]
[The following is to enjoyed/read/sang to the tune of the immortal original]

I’m just an old fashioned love nerd
Roleplaying at the table
And wrapped around the dice is the
Sound of someone promising
They’ll never blow a roll
You swear you’ve heard it before
As the DM slowly rambles on and on
No need to give ’em slack
Cause the session’s gone really long

Just an old fashioned love nerd
Coming down in six part APs
I’m just an old fashioned love nerd
Oh, I’m sure we’ll play some RPGS

To weave our dreams into
Each rp sess each evening
When the lights are low
To underscore our dice affair
With dungeon crawls and shouting
When we get to roll
You’ll swear you’ve played this game before
As we slowly ramble on and on
No need in bringing dead PCs back
Just make a new one to be

Just an old fashioned love nerd
Coming out with indie RPGs
I’m just an old fashioned love nerd
We have a open slot in our party

Just an old fashioned love nerd
Playing roles I always love to be
I’m just an old fashioned love nerd
Oh, I’m sure we’ll play some good ol’ RPGs

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Shoot from the Hip, Aim for the Heart

There’s nothing scary about writing.

Only there is. And I’ve been suffering under it’s weight for some time. My own stupid, stubborn, self-inflicted weight. It’s not the writing. It’s the failure. Or the idea of failure. That you’re gonna sit down, maybe bang out a few hundred words and they just stare back at you, haunting and ugly and bad. Bad. Just… the worst words.

I really hated my creative writing courses during my undergrad. They never filled me with confidence or inspiration. My classmates didn’t seem like my peers. Either too young or too sloppy or too anything. I always stood out as cutting in my commentary. Never cruel, but confident and constructive. I always tried to think Big Picture and dissect each piece to its fundamental elements while comparing and illuminating each.

I think the last day, when all the graduates went out drinking with the head of the creative writing department, it summarized my outward relationships perfectly. One of my classmates sloshing his beer remarked aloud, “Whenever Graham talks about your story, everything he says– it’s always so right. But like. Do you have to say it?”

I’m not a dick. I’m not. I have deep compassion and sensitivity towards everyone. I’d say, over the years, I’ve learned to listen more than to talk. And I remember what people say, especially when they tell me things about their lives. Apparently, this is uncommon. Seems normal to me. I’ve taught myself under much difficulty the invaluable skill of Shutting The Fuck Up. If that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.

I’ve been gone. I’ve been away for a while. I’ve been chained to my past, reliving my mistakes and humiliations. I’ve been paralyzed by a present I hated. And I could not see my future. Life looked bleak and predatory, and existentially the dehumanization of capitalism left me defeated and hopeless.

But then I went to Gen Con for the first time.

Good god, why did no one tell me. I know it was supposed to be fun and nerdy. But no one described the nirvana. No one ever told me I would be overwhelmed by endorphins at every turn and feel so completely alive again. I couldn’t possibly write about it all here in this post. But I listened to seminars, I marveled at board games, I played roleplaying games, I made amazing friends,  I played in a goddamn megagame, I met Jason MORNINGstar. Even walked 40 miles.

But people saw me there. When I was there, people noticed. I was shiny. It was purpose, it was meaning. It was a future. And it felt amazing.

So don’t be scared. Do it to it. Shoot from the hip, aim for the heart. Keep writing. Everyday. Write what you WANT TO WRITE. Fuel your passion. Feed that creativity. You feel it. You trust it. You know it.

Ready? Let’s go.

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“So what do you do?”

What do we all want? Purpose, right? Meaning. I feel I got freedom when I did not deserve it. Get a job so you can have an income. For many people, money is the purpose. Or what you can do with it– things, status. Maybe travel. People are lawyers or real estate agents or go career military. They go to graduate school and get engineering degrees and doctors. I see a lot of people become teachers by default. It seems a difficult life– little pay, long hours, high stress, no respect.

People, adults, seem to become things. They are metamorphosed into their careers. A student becomes journalist, an actor, an anything. I’ve watched the odd social transition from college parties to “adult” parties.

College parties are defined by booze, largely– exhibits of excess and hedonism. You have loud music and shouting, most people you don’t know, drinking games, the members there are looking for release and testing limits.

“Adult” parties, at the most basic level, people actually bring food. It’s quieter, more social. There’s people uncomfortably making smalltalk. There’s alcohol, certainly, but it’s not the kind of consumption steeped in ritual and maximizing the shear amounts one can take before breaking. In adult parties, people get drunk more subtly, and if they do reach a level of sloppy, it’s something whispered and giggled about later and not in the open.

It’s at these adult parties where I am now asked this odd new question:

“So what do you do?”

I know what it means. And I know why the question exists. It reminds me a bit of Taylor Mali’s slam poem, “What Teachers Make.” I still mostly find slam poetry annoying since they seem to be delivered with identical candace. But I like the reevaluating of words and the meaning of making, and well as it being a rousing anthem for teachers, like a three minute “Dead Poet Society.”

What do I do?

Well, you mean what is my career. How do I make money. What have I been transformed into. What am I?

“Oh, I’m a…at… .”

“Oh, alright. Cool.”

I suppose it’s not an offensive question. It is not strange to me because I don’t know how to answer? What job do I have that defines me as a person and my place in society? What title have I achieved?

“I used to be a theater reviewer.”
“I studied Creative Writing and Astrophysics.”
“I’ve been tutoring and working on the big education project.”
“I act. I’ve directed before. I have an eye and instinct for visuals.”
“I’m musical. I have timing and rhythm and a good ear. I sing alright. But I don’t play any instruments.”
“I love boardgames. I’m excellent at teaching and communicating.”
“My tabletop roleplaying games are the best there are.”
“I’m a writer. But I haven’t really been paid to do it yet. So it doesn’t count. But I’m really, really good with story and character.”
“Do? Nothing, really. I’m depressed most days and struggle existentially with what to really do with my future. I feel I lack purpose.”

“…oh.”

I think mostly I’ve learned I don’t like the system. I don’t like capitalism and I don’t like rat races. I don’t like being in a little box and I don’t like being told what to do. But I need to eat and I need to pay rent. I’ll get a purpose. And then maybe take it from there.

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