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Friday, August 31, 2018

My Recent Trip to the Land of Make Believe

Happy Friday to all the eyeballs that fall here!  Let's start the day with a fresh podcast, maybe something a bit longer, with two people having a conversation about gaming and creativity?  That's right you lucky somofabitch, it the GoblinStompCast Dynamic Duo with your truly and his ever talky pal, Deron!  That's @hedgewriter on the twitters, so hit him up, give him a follow (cause he won't clog up your feed either)!

Don't forget that there is a wealth, an absolute treasure trove of great podcasts by folks you may already know...Spikepit, Follow Me And Die, Gothridge Manor and many, many more and you can subscribe to them on OR screw that dumb app and just use Google Podcasts or itunes like the rest of the sheeple!

OK...enough of that talking and listening nonsense.  Let's get down to the meat of this blog post, and for many of you I hope you will find some relevance, some clarity, and maybe have some thoughts of your own not just about RPG's, but about creativity, and even (dare I say it) our feelings.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to watch the recent bio-doc about the life of Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers to you and me.  I'm going to bet that many if not most of you spent a good portion of your young life watching PBS, and maybe continue to do so even now.  I certainly do.  I was born in 1969, which means that Mr. Rogers had been airing for 2 seasons or so and Sesame Street had just gotten the green light.  These 2 shows, and thus those two hours of television each day had a very profound impact on me, and after watching the new documentary (titled Won't You Be My Neighbor obviously) I took away both a deep knowledge and intense feeling about how that show shaped me and is still an integral part of who I am as an adult, and how I use my imagination and feelings in my roleplaying life.

It should be noted that I don't believe that I am an especially better person for having spent time with Mr. Rogers, but I do think that he and I connected in a special but not unique way.  I was and still am a very emotional person, though through time I've learned to keep much of those feelings hidden, or even buried.  Mr. Rogers made me understand, however, that my thoughts feelings (whatever they were at any given moment) were not wrong, were valid, and that I should feel them in whatever way I deemed necessary as long as those feelings didn't physically hurt anyone else.

When that little red Trolley pulled into Mr. Rogers' living room, I knew that we were going to take a trip to the Land of Make Believe, that magical place where a crude set design, hand puppets, and overly-friendly actors would illustrate some deepness that was not going to be discussed at school, with my friends, or in my home.  My life was pretty normal, rather average, and while my parents told me they loved me often and with great hugs to follow, there were many other feelings and thoughts that a small child can manage that weren't addressed anywhere...except on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and a bit on Sesame Street (though the latter was more educational and less emotional).

What does any of this have to do with Role Playing Games?


Players (like me) using OSR rulesets or still clinging to Basic, or 1st Edition, or any older game may be more about the fun of combat, the uncovering of lost treasure, and just having a raucous romp through the megadungeon may not be as focused on stories or characters.  I get that.  I do.  While I've engaged in that level of play I also know that regardless of system or setting and whether or not my character lasts ten minutes, ten sessions, or ten years I imbue that PC with a piece of soul, a chunk of creative life energy that i'm 100% certain can be linked directly and with a straight line back to Mr. Rogers.

Conversely, as the DM I channel the Land of Make Believe into each and every game, though my players and even I don't always realize that it's happening.  Being able to sink into the persona of an NPC isn't all that different from Fred Rogers voicing Daniel Tiger or X the Owl, King Friday or Meow Meow Henrietta Pussycat.  He taught me that part of DMing my games, even if he and I had no clue it was happening.

That's just fucking crazy.  It is.

 It's also true.

Watching that documentary made me realize several things, a few of them not altogether comforting. Do yourself a huge favor and find it, turn down the lights, and go deep.

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