Since two people asked this same day...
A short history on Tobie's Gaming
written: October 1, 2000
I was an elf.
I had the nice pointed ears. The golden blonde hair. A bow on my back, a quiver of arrows on my side. I was an elf. An elven ranger.
The game was held in the bus I rode each morning to get to school. I was barely old enough to really understand the concept of a roleplaying game, just enough to understand that it had to do with creating a small character using numbers and paper and then telling the other person if you want to try to kill the monster.
My elf was on a mountain. The other guy told me that my elf felt the mountain shaking.
I had my elf look around. The other guy told me my elf discovers I am on a volcano. The volcano erupts. He asks me what do I do.
I say, "Jump up the nearest tree."
The tree burns.
My first roleplaying game experience. I was barely in my teen years. My Dungeon Master was a High school Senior who also took the school bus. It lasted barely 5 minutes.
After that day, I vowed to myself never to ever give any player I have under me a game as horrible as that one.
My first taste of roleplaying games was Dungeons and Dragons. Strangely, since my own source for information on the game was with the High school Seniors who hated my guts, getting to understand the game was though. Nearly impossible even. A friend of mine, one just a few years older than me, offered to lend me one of his copies of the game. Although I did not know it then, the book I got was a copy of the Master's book. A book meant for those who have played past the basics of the book. One meant for the more experienced troupe.
I studied it. Learned it wrongly. Played it wrongly ("yes, to hit the monster, roll above your Armor Class.") and eventually decided that the game was fun.
Then game the others. A host load of others that surged past me like a hurricane let lose on the fringes of my imagination.
Marvel Superheroes. Star Frontiers. Top Secret. Battletech. Robotech. D.C. Heroes. Gammarauders (although, only to read and not play) and hundreds of Choose Your Own Adventures.
The games rattled by the hundreds. I played in many. Started Game Mastering most. An amazing feat considering this was within a three year span.
The focus of the games was the action. The combat scenes. Blowing things up, killing the evil creatures, tearing apart the well-laid plans of the wicked villains... those were the roots of each game. No exploration on the themes of life, or society. No depth. But fun nontheless.
Then came Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.
The games suddenly shifted in approach. Although experience points and stopping the villains were present in the game, my Dungeon Master back then decided to throw a new approach to the game; He gave the game a whole story focus. The previous games did have their plots, but they were too comic-cut and simple. The previous games were almost like simply reading a comic book where each episode, a new villain is introduced, fought, and defeated.
This time, the good guys can lose.
And the game goes on as the heroes struggle to win again... struggle to save what they can... and continue to make more stories carrying with them the regrets of their faliures and the rewards of their heroism.
Suddenly, the games were deeper than we thought possible.
I began taking my Communication arts major in college. I got into theater, learned to be more open-minded to both the music I listened to and the books I read.. and discovered that I can add these to the gaming experience.
And what's more, we learned they weren't limited to the AD&D system. We applied the approach to all the other games we had... and discovered they worked there too.
And even on other games we discovered such as Macross and Teenagers from Outer Space. The system was there to play the game, but the approach was entirely up to us. That was the beautiful thing we discovered about gaming back then.
Then Whitewolf Gaming Studios came and changed the way we thought... well, not changed, but added a new paradigm.
We could play the bad guys too.
Suddenly, from what began as angst-ridden games that projected our anger towards a materialistic world run by a patriarchal society lacking courage to stand up for its rights.... we began exploring mature themes. Was there a time when killing might be considered? Is there such a thing as Truth? Can Faith be as deadly as Sin? Does Love truly win in the end? Should there be gender biases? Many questions were explored, and re-explored and raised in the games.
Whitewolf Gaming Studios offered opportunities to play everything from vampires to werewolves, mages to sorcerers, fae to ghosts, and so forth... the hundreds of variations of each theme too were offered all for the enjoyment of the individual gamer.
All of the sudden, we learned that RPG offered both Fun and Education in one sitting.
We tried more stuff, although unlike before, we still kept on playing Whitewolf games. Some weekends were allocated to try other games such as Paranoia, Chill, In Nomine, Live Action Roleplaying games, Children of Fire, Aberrant, Trinity, Alternity, Legend of the Five Rings, and a host load of original homebrewed games.
And each time we played, we discovered more and more about how versatile roleplaying games can be.
To end this article, I guess, since its intention was more to give you an idea of the type of gaming systems I have gone through in my entire life... I just want to add, the roleplaying game you choose is not necessarily the definition to use when describing what roleplaying games are to another person. The roleplaying game you choose is nothing more but a MEDIUM of storytelling games. Be it Marvel Superheroes, Vampire:the Masquerade, Chill or Dungeons and Dragons, the depth a game can have is totally dependent on how the game is approached.
EDIT: For more gaming related stuff, check out my gaming blog TAGSESSIONS