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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Signs and Portents of the Best DM's

I get asked all the time, "Hey Goblin_Stomper, "how can I be a better DM?"

That's not true, no one ever asks me that.

It's my personal opinion that most DM's think they do a fine job, most probably do, and some are great.  Most I think are fine, that is, good enough that players come back to play another game, and that's really the best review a DM can get.

After all this time, I think I can distill most of the behaviors of a really good (perhaps great) DM down to just a few, but if you asked me what the most important one is, that's easy.  There is one trademark of a DM who will keep you coming back to the table.  The sign of a DM able to keep your mind entrenched in the mind of the character you've created, and allow the world around you to melt quickly away, leaving you and your character completely immersed in hours of play that feel like mere moments.

The best DM's believe, with complete authority and utter certainty  without wavering once, that their world and the game are as real as the screen on which you read this sentence.

That's it.  That's all there is to it.

This Guy Believes.  He really does.

Oh sure, there's the importance of being familiar enough with your ruleset to suffer no fools or lawyers.  It's a given that you understand the basic elements of storytelling so deeply that your game follows both a predictable, yet surprising pattern to keep the players engaged but not bored.

It's your belief in you world, however, that I perceive as the lynch-pin to your success as a DM, even if you lack some or even all of those other factors.  Sure, you can't 100% fake that other stuff.  You will need it, but first, believe.

You see if you don't think that your gods exist, that your sorcerer can cast a glamour of never-before-seen magnitude, and that your monster is an engine of raw, destructive power as it defends it's well earned treasure hoard...who will?

You, the DM, need to live in your world first, and most deeply.  If you don't do this, the task of casting the spell of suspension of disbelief at your table will fizzle from the fingers that weave it and the mouth that casts it.  There are a few helpful hints for this, but mostly, you just gotta believe.  I will list a few important things here, but these are just guideposts. 

1. Write a brief outline of your world. Include your gods, rules for magic, important localities as well as unique locations important to where you'd like to begin your game/story.  Design a framework for your mind to dilly-dally, play, jaunt.

2. Create your first Inn.  Maybe it seems crazy to go from the macro to micro, but here you can develop a few personalities, a few names, a few drinks...get a sense of how your world 'feels' to you, and hone it until you know the inn and its occupants like they're family.

3. Create your own PC for the world.  If you were playing in your world, what sort of character appeals to you.

3a.  Give that PC a backstory.

Now...there will be some amount of time between the birth of your game/world and your first game, so now you gotta split off a small piece of your day-to-day brain, and place it in that world (or place that world in it).  Sometimes you should try to actively daydream a bit in the world.  Other times let that part of your mind fly solo.  Don't lose your job over this.  Don't forget to study for exams.  Just give it a bit attention now and again, to reflect on it, fine tune it, and keep it flourishing.

Maybe keep a notepad.  I like a tiny, ruled Rhodia and a fine gel pen, but anything you can keep on you will work fine.

That's my advice, mostly short and pretty sweet.

Now go play.  Believe.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Pace of the Game

I think alot about time.  In a world, and at an age, where I seem to have less of it in every way I consider it more and more.  Much of what I had is now gone, left behind me like an invisible path of memories and experiences that mixes and mingles and certainly crosses the paths of many others.  In a world that is so very focused on the now, on the future, and on speed I know that I prefer things slowed down.  I would not stop the steady, heavy march of time even if I could, but I do my best to remove myself when I can from its speedy yoke.

Roleplaying is an activity that by its very nature requires us to sit down, think, talk together, and slow down.  It is a game that should not be played in short bursts, like so much Snake on the toilet.  Instead, we organize relatively long periods of time to it.  There is preparation on the part of the DM, time where one of the group must focus attention on the plot and action, and consider carefully the party and the story.  It is is his or her own fate the DM considers, wrapped up in the lives and behavior of the NPCS, the Monsters, the antagonists, and even the dungeon itself however or in whatever form that place/space manifests itself.

Then we meet and sit.  There are unwritten customs in our groups, some common to all and others much more specific, but most somewhat ritualistic.  How many of us first share our food and drink?  Which of us places our dice just so at our place at the table and rolls them a few times, trying to eek out some insight as to their behavior?  While we wait for others to arrive don't we all discuss our lives, our weeks, our work, our families, and then ultimately...the game, our characters, the previous session?  We take our time.  Patience is a given.  We wait for all, or as a group decide to forge ahead.  Yes, we have some time, but not all the time.

As the game begins, and the story and its events unfold before the players and their characters, the individual and the group must act and react but there is time to consider, even in the most heated of battles.  The combat can feel quick, but there is that feeling of the slowing of time, even if such a thing isn't truly possible.  It is this perceived manipulation of time that I crave, the feeling that things are taking forever until finally I look at my watch or a clock and see that hours have flown by as we, as I, was immersed in the play.

If you've been reading my blog recently, you'll know that I've come heavily under the influence of photography.  It is a hobby that requires time to master the technical skill required to take a photo, time to find a location in which to shoot, time to set up and frame the picture, time and patience to wait for something to happen within that frame, and finally time to process and review the photograph.  It is a practice indelibly enmeshed with time so much so that the finished photograph is, in reality, the art of capturing a moment of time.

The younger players who read this may not yet feel the pressure of time.  I know that when I was happily getting lost in adventures over the course of a weekend with friends, I paid time no mind.  Food was more important, and sleep only came when we were all at the point of exhaustion.  There is no reason to consider these games as lost or stolen time.  Legends were made, empires were built and then crumbled, and a good time was had by all as the seconds, minutes, hours, and yes even days were eaten, moment by moment, by the game we love.

These days I am luck to be able to spare three of four hours to devote to my gaming group.  It is a chunk of time happily set aside so that there can be legends, and heroes, and empires rising and falling.

Whatever your game, regardless of age, take note that you have chosen to slow down time.  You have chosen to break from the pack, those clamoring for more, now, faster and instead have chosen to chill, relax, breathe, think, create, play...pretend.

...and remember that these are the moments that make us human.  Time is a finite resource for each person, the thief whom even the guildmaster can not swindle.  Time is like the stories we tell and the game we play, without beginning or end.  The magic of time is best felt when we share it with others.

Go Play.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Learning How to Play Tabletop RPG's

I've been playing and DMing RPG's since 1980 or so.  Anyone who grew up playing in that era, regardless of the game or hybrid mix of systems they played, learned how to do so in one of only two ways.  The first, and most common way was to play.  Simple.  You knew some folks who played and asked them if you could join.  Then someone (the DM most likely) would show you how to roll up a PC and you joined in the fun.  Total ignorance and confusion quickly turned to understanding. It was usually a whole bunch of fun as you watched what the other folks around you were doing, and when it came to your turn, you followed suit.

Then your PC died.

It's cool, cause you just rolled another, better guy and started again.  Easy Peasy.

The only other way to learn to play/DM was to read the manuals.  This method was sketchy at best, but I guess the lone individual, first of his kind to emerge, must have had no other choice.  He would then find some willing friend to bite at the hook and become his first player.  Together they would muddle their way through and play, maybe mostly wrong, but that really didn't matter.  Point is, they played.  They had some fun.  Eventually they connected with a few other guys who had done the same thing, they hammered out what each group was likely doing wrong and right, and a consensus formed they would play at the next level.  Such was the evolution of D&D where I'm from, and it's probably not too dissimilar from your experience, again assuming you are of a certain age.

I bring this up because we don't live in 1980 anymore, and we are not the diaspora as that time before the internet forced us to be.  These days, and with the help of our advanced communication systems, we are able not only to quickly locate others of our kind and come together at the local Coffebucks to decide if we'd like to play D&D together, but those of us still stuck in remote areas where people are few and comrades far fewer can still learn to play.  Websites, Forums, and best of all Videos can quickly bring us up to speed on how the game is played.

Of course, there is no 'right' way to play.  The internet has also allowed us to debate endlessly over methods of play, styles of play, and the minutiae of the rules that we use to play.  While this may seem confusing to the uninitiated, anyone with an iota of sense and their own copy of the ruleset they desire to use can filter out the needed information from the noise and nonsense of gamer flub-dubbery.

Me?  I'm at a high level of expertise.  I am a great player, I am an awesome DM, and I am a superb flinger of flub-dubbery.  I could teach anyone to play, were I to choose to do so.  Thankfully many such people are running websites,  hosting forums, and best of all creating videos from how-to to actual gameplay.  I don't watch them, but I appreciate their value to folks new to the hobby who have no local, experienced source to turn to.  There's Matt, who has a bunch of videos I've never watched but he seems smart and intense and passionate, so you can watch his stuff.  Then there's Critical Role with Matt (different Matt.  Lot's of Matts in RPGs) if you'd like to watch people play the game in real time.  If you prefer reading to watching, just google 'How to Play D&D' and then tumble down the rabbit hole.  This last method is a good one if you have alot of time, a case of Jolt, and a multi-monitor setup for all the tabs you're about to open.

I am not a great photographer.  Probably i'm not even very good.

This is what started me down this rambling path of thought today.  I exist alone here in my cave with my cameras.  I was barely able to take a decent picture with my phone, which as we all know even toddlers can achieve with little or no instruction.

The internet has quickly allowed me to access the technical knowledge I need to use my gear.  Beyond basic usage, I was able to review the recent history of photography, the types of photography, the reasons to operate the camera in a certain way given a particular environment or subject, and watch people in real-time taking photos with the gear I owned in all types of situations and places of interest.

I may not be a good photographer yet, but now I can use my camera.  The personalities I follow online who teach photography have been great, and I've learned a great deal about the art and technology of taking good photographs.  In essence, I've learned how to play, and now the only way to advance my skills is to go out and take photos.

What I'm getting at, I think, is that it's great to use the internet to learn how to do something, but in the end you've got to get out there and do it!  Go play!  Find a game store with a weekly game, join a group using the Meetups app, use craigslist or reddit to find an IRL or online game to play.  Put the internet to good use!

Go Play.  Have fun.  Make memories.

My Friend Dean, Jamming with his Reggae Band Jah People

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The RPG as a Collectible : A Misspent Youth

These days it's not uncommon, certainly if you hang out on Twitter, Facebook, or G+, to see folks posting proudly their shelves crammed full of RPG's new and old.  It's nice to share, or in some cases show off a long curated and well maintained collection of gaming books, supplements, maps, dice, miniatures and such.  Back in the 1980's I would buy anything and everything related to the hobby.  Most of the TSR library was at my disposal.  I really enjoy looking at these shelf shots, especially when I recognize a rare book (or edition of a book) I once had.

Yup.  I said had.

I can't share a shelfie, the fun nickname given to a glamour shot of one's own shelf(ves) full of gaming goodness, because back in the early 1990's I decided to relocate from my then home in Houston, TX. to my now (and original) home town of Philadelphia PA.  I was taking myself, my dad, my clothes, and a few carefully selected items in a small Ford LTD the approx 1700 miles to live once again in the land of my birth.  My rather extensive RPG collection, I had decided, would not be making the trip with me.

I needed cash to finance my trip and help me get a start once I arrived, and so I boxed up my collection of D&D, AD&D, Palladium, WFRP, and a multitude of other books and I sold the lot.  I added a few dollars (what now would seem like a crime given ebay pricing for these same items) to my bank and took off to my new life.  When it was over, I didn't feel unburdened, I felt sad and a little bit ashamed that I had sold my collection both cheaply and without too much forethought.  There were loads of books, gaming as well as fiction and non-fiction, that got packed into boxes and sold off.  Other things got the chop as well, but nothing stung so quickly or deeply as the sale of those books, specifically my RPG's.  The early 90's was a bit of a dead-zone for tabletop role-playing.  Those of you experiencing and enjoying its renaissance now may not have any connection to that time, but folks who have slogged through, guys (and maybe some gals) of a certain age will most assuredly remember them.  With my move imminent, and my future in the hobby uncertain, I made the rash and in retrospect incorrect decision to take the quick cash.  So much for hindsight.

Now here I am, some 20-odd years later, staring at the shelf that could have just as easily been my own.

It makes feelings happen.  Initially I get excited to see a familiar face, the 1e PHB or a well creased Unearthed Arcana.  Rather quickly, however, those emotions turn quickly to loss, sadness, an absence deep in the pit of my stomach (soul) that I am missing a piece of my life that I should be able to turn to, an old friend not dead, but long ago having moved on to some other life of which I am no longer a part.

Can I fix the situation?  Of course.  Just like most folks I have access to ebay, and if I wanted my spare income to to go rebuilding my old gaming library I could certainly allocate those funds.  Many people have done, or are currently doing this.  Like many folks currently in a state of 'adulting', I have other priorities, and many new interests as well, so my money does not go to rebuilding that bookshelf.  I must content myself by living vicariously through others, and the ever-growing image archives 

Do I have access to these magical tomes of my youth?  Sure.  The internet also facilitates that.  Grabbing the occasional pdf from the darker side of the interweb is simple enough.  Is it the same, owning a pdf of the 1e PHB?  Nope, not by a long shot.  Sure the information is there, but it is soulless.  Empty.  Devoid of any feeling.  Like most things we (humans) collect, simply having what amounts to a 'picture' of a thing is not the same as owning/holding that very same thing, even if what that image conveys is in large part the same as the thing itself.

These days much of my free, non-gaming time is spent with my camera(s).  I love shooting candids of folks in the streets, and of particular interest to me is outdoor markets, garage sales, and flea markets.  That's not, I suspect, a coincidence.  I'm always on the lookout for two things...Old cameras/lenses, and RPG material.  Ebay has made locating old gaming materials and old camera gear a real challenge, but it's part of what makes spending my time perusing and capturing moments at these places so enjoyable.

Thanks to all of those collectors, new and old, who are sharing their pride & joy images with the rest of us.  No matter my own feelings about it, it's nice to see so many others having and enjoying their collections with all of us in the RPG community.

I haven't moved on from gaming.  Not hardly.

Much of my RPG time is spent on using Fantasy Grounds 2, so the need for books in my hand during online play isn't all that important.  For those rare times when I get to play F2F, I rely on the kindness of my companions, which has never failed and I'm sure never will.  (I got dice, no worries there.  A man should have his own dice...I guess you could share, but that's kinda weird)

In the meantime, if you happen to have a second set of any of those 1e, first or second printing tomes...I'd be happy to make a space on my shelf for them.  You can rest assured they would be both cared for and cherished, and hopefully used at the table.

Game On Guys!

Friday, September 1, 2017

How Harvey Could Not Split the Party

I guess that it should come to no ones surprise that as the hurricane named Harvey loomed ever closer to the Texas coastline, and as my family who live in/around Houston began to prepare for the potential onslaught that may come by stockpiling water, dry goods, and all of the fixin's for french toast, that in the back of my mind my little lizard brain all full of lessons hard won and learned during countless years and endless sessions began to whisper one quiet, recurring thought.

Don't split the party.

My father moved us to Houston in the summer of 1986.  Like many folks before him, he was lured to Houston by a job.  He was, and to my mind still is, a furrier.  Neiman-Marcus had need of his skills, and in a business dying off as a middle-class luxury he followed the money and took us all with him.  I was 16, my sister 14 and my brother was 5 when we left Philadelphia and headed south into the unknown.

They are all still there, my family.  In the mid-90's I moved back home, to Philly, but that is another story.  Suffice it to say that it was me, initially, who split the party.

My siblings are grown now, and they all have their own families, their own jobs, lives, and homes around the Houston area.  My folks settled finally in Richmond, TX., a small suburb-town a few miles southwest of the Houston metroplex (an atrocious yet appropriate word) near the Brazos River.  My sister lives a mile or so from them, my brother in a northern suburb about 45 minutes away.  They split the party as well, but my move was the greatest in terms of physical distance.  We are a close family, as families these days go. We have our moments, but we are a true party.

My father, ever the Fighter/Cleric, a combat medic in Vietnam before wife and kids and furrier were ever born.  My mother a cleric as well, though not clinging so tightly to her faith as to her family.  My sister, like my father, a Fighter.  Not the sharpest sword in the sheath but tenacious, and when confronted, outright deadly.  Her Con and Str are high.  She can dual wield, and her reaction time gives her many pluses to init.  My brother the quiet Cavalier.  No specialist, but a bright and shining generalist, ever ready to help with a hand.  Loyal and trustworthy, a better friend likely none have ever had.

Me?  Always the Magic-user/Thief...but maybe you already knew that.

Together we had managed to overcome many foes, monsters, traps, dungeons...rarely gold at the end of any adventure, but always the company.  Always the family.

As I watched from the couch last weekend, the rain and wind battering first Corpus, and then moving up the coastline until at last the full-force of this horrible weather event struck at the heart of Houston, I had never before felt so helpless.  My parents, sibling, and my surviving grandparents were all huddled in their homes, often sheltering in place as tornado warnings began to appear.  My sister sending regular updates from her house as her family sat in the bathroom near the tub.  The news on the TV getting worse and worse, and the real issue, that each of my comrades was stuck in place.  As I sat glued to the TV, I reached for my Dagger and my Wand, but neither would be of any use from where I sat, 1000 plus miles from the hurricane.

The party had been split.

Enough drama.  You know what happened.  Either you are/were there and you're dealing with the aftermath or you watched TV and saw the images of folks needing rescue by boat or by helicopter, looked on as the city prepared shelters for the newly homeless.

My family, all of them, were incredibly lucky.  While those around them lost hearth and home, the wisdom of my father kept them all safe.  He had always made one rule about buying or renting a home in Houston.  My dad knew that we were close to sea level, and near the coast, and he insisted that my siblings live on the highest ground they could find.  Often not good at listening, his kids knew this time he was right, and so my brother and sister purchased homes on hills in a land were there were few.

They were lucky, but it was a close call.  Water was inches from each of their doors.  Many neighbors, even on adjacent streets quickly became flood victims.  I feel awful for everyone affected by this terrible storm.  It was never far from my thoughts that I should be there with them, that if I was nearby I would have somehow been able to help if something terrible had come for them.  It was never clearer to me that the D&D party is nothing more than the fictional representation of a family.  The not-so-real trials and tribulations, the adventures we share at the gaming table are all metaphor for the real world, and if we are lucky then the comrades who sit at the gaming table with us, these folks are our family members.

Even with distance between them, my father had managed not to split the party.

To those of you affected by this storm, I say Don't Split the Party! Cling tightly to those who you care for and who care for you, and together help those around you.  Be generous with what you have, care for your neighbors (your extended party, as so many of my parents' neighbors were with them) and even with strangers in need.  This is not, nor shall it ever be, a country divided by color, creed, or politics...and no storm, no matter how large or devastating, will sunder what we as a nation have wrought.

For the folks like me, with friends and family caught up in the aftermath of Harvey, I understand how you feel and know that you have not abandoned your party.  They know that you would be there to help if you were able.  Your comrades know that you are now, and ever will be, a member of the party.

Stay strong Houston.  You've got this.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Checking in After I Checked Out!

Made in Spain, not in China...for a change

Well kiddies, it's been a rough couple of months.  No, no one died.  I didn't lose my job.  Really, nothing truly awful has happened.  So what has kept me from writing and posting here on the blog, or Twitter or Facebook, or in general engaging with folks I like about games I love?

I'm the sort of guy who needs to focus on the immediate challenge, which for me has been my journey (once again) to lose alot of unhealthy, unnecessary weight.  When I've walked this path in the past it has always been a very consuming process, but that hyper-focused practice has always resulted in success.  As of today, I'm happy to report that two months of eating less, eating better, and attempting to move more often and with a sense of purpose has resulted in approximately a 25 lb. loss.

It's a good start.

While I haven't checked out of life (or gaming) completely in order to do what needs doin', it was the break from distraction that helped me get to this point.

My blogging and gaming have slowed for more reasons than just my need to eat and exercise for my weight loss.  It's been an awfully busy time with my son (12) leaving elementary school and transitioning into middle school life, summer vacation times being scheduled, busy work time (a pawnbrokers life has cycles, and summer is a busy time for us with regard to folks selling products in order to fund summer events...we think of it as our inventory restocking phase), and a host of other random, pop-up events that usually put the kibosh on time I would normally be playing D&D, C&C, WFRP, Labyrinth Lord and the host of other games I enjoy.

Not gaming left a big gap, and early on in April I realized I needed to do something to keep my mind stimulated and also supplement my time moving about, walking, hiking, I picked up my much neglected Nikon D5000 (as well as my even older canon Rebel XT) and started going to the park to take some pictures.  It got me moving with a purpose, and pretty soon I realized that the equipment I had bought to document family life, my son as a baby, and the occasional family outing held alot more interest for me.

My hobby time is limited, and much of it has always been focused on RPG's, books (many of them about RPG's lol), and food & cooking but suddenly I found myself engaging with the world in a very different way.  Many folks have taken photography as a class in high school or as a college course, and thus have some knowledge of how cameras work, how to take a proper photo, and what makes a good photo.  Not having any real world, practical experience with either of my cameras I simply walked a mile or two when time allowed, happily snapping pictures of anything I saw that I thought was interesting, and then I would go home and look at alot of pictures of trees, or cars, or the creek at Pennypack Park.  It was all very mundane, shot on auto, and really...really boring.

Until I took this picture.


The bird took off from a low branch and I instinctively pulled the camera up to my face and without even thinking just started snapping away.

Now, there's nothing really special about this picture.  You can go to to Google images or Flickr or one of a million websites and see hundreds, nay thousands of similar pictures often far better, closer, with greater detail.  I, however, had never taken a picture that made me feel like I had accomplished anything that might be interesting enough to show anyone else.  Sure, my family likes to share pictures of each other, our kids, the usual crap that only has meaning to the individual or small group, but this photo really got me thinking about how I had really checked out of life in so many ways.

I had checked out of being healthy by eating in an out of control manner, and really becoming very sedentary.

I had checked out of engaging with people by limiting my gaming time exclusively to online play via Fantasy Grounds and Roll20.

I had checked out of society at large by living routinely, a cycle of work and sleep and filling the time in between with nothing new or interesting or stimulating.

I had checked out of learning anything new.

After seeing this photo, I knew I wanted to check back in.

I'm not going to drone on (or perhaps I already have) about photography.  I'm a total noob, but youtube vids, blogs, and a few books have started what I hope will continue to be an ongoing learning process that keeps me engaged and active.

If you want to keep up with the photo's I take, just check out here or maybe here or if you like birds, trees, and stuff like that then go here.

I'm on Instagram too and for that you can follow me here.

Maybe none of this photo crap means anything to just want the crochety old pawnbroking gamer guy stuff to start flowing again.  That wacky dude who wrote Adventure most Fowl or A Baker's Denizen needs to start posting again!

Cool out.  I will.

I need a few more months to focus my personal energy on losing more weight and exercising (for those interested, I went from 258# to now 231# primarily using CICO/calorie management which works really well for me.  I'm on Myfitnesspal as Taoistpunk so feel free to friend me there if you're so inclined!).  It's also important to me to spend alot of my 'hobby/free' time learning to take better pictures.  Leaning new things is important for me, as I know it's probably important to you, but I do miss sharing here on the blog and engaging more on Twitter and Facebook.  Hopefully you will see me more frequently now that I'm feeling a bit better about things.

I'm planning on going to PAX Unplugged, since it will be right here in my hometown come the fall.  If you're going to that con, lemme  know so we can connect!  I also plan to be at GaryCon next year, camera in one hand, dice in the other!

For now...this is the Goblin Stomper...

Checking back IN!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Fat Gamer's Lament

Today I'm not going to talk about OSR stuff, or gaming in general.  If that's all you want or need from me, feel free to check out now.  I won't be upset or angry with you, cause I know you're here for the RPG stuff and not necessarily odd things about my personal life.

That's your one warning, there will be no others.

I'm fat.

You may not have known this about me, since I don't post alot of pictures of myself or talk about it much.  I'm a middle-aged (47), short, fat guy...5'5" and currently 257#.  I'm probably at my heaviest right now.  It's a train-wreck, and I'm feeling it aggressively.  My weight is affecting almost every area of my life, from work to fun to simply sitting around.  Clothes are uncomfortable to wear.  Sitting for long periods hurts my back.  I'm generally in a foul, if not outright angry mood.

Do you wanna know what the worst part is?

A few years ago I lost nearly 90#.  I was down to about 170# after alot of dieting and exercise, and I felt healthier and younger than I had in a decade.  It wasn't the first time I had lost significant weight.  In my mid 30's I got pretty big, and I lost 70+ pounds then too.  When push comes to shove, I know how to lose the weight and I can be pretty damn successful with it.  The older I get, however, the more daunting the challenge seems to be.  I'm really worried that if I start down the path to a 'healthy me' once again, a short time later I will be the same fat bastard I am right now, again.

I was a skinny kid, super thin.  That's not, BTW, because I didn't like food.  I ate burgers by the fistful, fries by the bunch, pizza slices one in each hand, and PB&J on white bread as a salad before every meal.  Boxes of Ring Dings would come in the house on Sunday and be gone by Monday.  I was unaffected by food in the physical sense, I remained lean and limber.  Most of my time was spent outside, riding my bike from one street to the next. I was the fastest kid on the street.

Sometime in my late-20's, this all ended.  Suddenly I was no longer wearing size 29 waist jeans.  I went from wearing small or medium shirts to large.  It was not a big deal.  I ignored it, assuming it would just go away, but the problem only increased, just like my waistline.  Before I knew what was happening I found myself wearing size 40 pants and XXL t-shirts.

I'm skipping over alot of other details here.  The other parts of my life that were good, or bad, but events and behaviors that ultimately led to my weight gain, or my weight loss.  There were some real tragedies in there, but the worst of them was all of the time and energy spent taking that weight off, only to have it return.  It sucks to meet a goal and then completely screw it up a short time later.

By now you're probably saying to yourself, "Wow, this guys is depressing the shit out of me.  Please stop.  Stop talking, stop whining, and for fuck's sake stop eating!"  I agree.  This has nothing to do with all that fun gaming stuff.  Playing RPG's is not like losing weight at all.

With D&D I have this perfect character, this archetypal fiction I can pretend to be so I don't have to think about, or worry about, real-world stuff.  I can escape into fantasy-land, kill some ogres, grab some gold, party at the tavern, and enjoy life to the fullest.  As the GM I can do you one better.  I control everything and everyone.  In my game, I am god, and nothing is too difficult, too important, or too overwhelming for me to handle.

Playing TTRPG's for me means I don't even have to leave my house, thanks to online VTT's like Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. I can sit at my desk, chips and soda in hand, and keep on playing til the cows come home (which, btw, I don't think they ever do).  It's gotten to the point that no matter what I'm doing, from playing in a game, to writing this blog, to creating an adventure module...moving from my desk isn't integral.

In no way am I saying that D&D made me fat.  That would be ridiculous.  I AM saying that the hobby I love so much hasn't exactly helped me stay thin.  If I'm going to once again start down the path that leads through the Tub-O-Lard Forest, down Less-Blubber road, and finally to Thin Town, then I need to be mindful of how much time i'm sitting here, doing this, as opposed to standing up, walking around, and doing something healthier for me.

I've started adjusting today.  Again.  Once more I've fired up the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, strapped on my Moto360 sport, and packed a healthy lunch that fits my numbers and my macros.  It's not a happy time, nor am I filled with hope for the future.  Knowing what lies ahead doesn't necessarily make it easier.  Having been here three times before, I can honestly say that I'm regretting (again) letting myself go.

Posting this half-rant to the blog is my way of publicly declaring my dedication to the process.  Sure, none of you reading this far will necessarily care any more about what happens to me and my weight problem than before you leaped into this rabbit-hole, but now I've said/done something publicly and I guess on some level I should be held accountable.  Consider yourself appointed.

Food isn't the problem, I am, but really doesn't help.

me on 4/3/17  47yrs 257#