Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Some time in my life I'm not so proud of...
We were not your archetypical "gamers". We did play basketball, football, climb trees, ride bikes, go fishing and other outdoor activities. As we grew-up, those activities took a back shelf to our role playing. In middle school, I tried joining the football and wrestling teams, but neither worked out.
The day after the first practice for the football team, I had gotten into an argument with a fellow classmate in gym glass. This argument abruptly ended when the kicked me right in the kneecap. I went to the doctor and he told me that I had torn my meniscus. (Meniscus, plural: menisci, from the Greek for "crescent", is a curve in the surface of a liquid and is produced in response to the surface of the container or another object. It can be either concave or convex. A convex meniscus occurs when the molecules have a stronger attraction to each other than to the container. This may be seen between mercury and glass in barometers. Conversely, a concave meniscus occurs when the molecules of the liquid attract those of the container. This can be seen between water and glass. Capillary action acts on concave menisci to pull the liquid up, and on convex menisci to pull the liquid down. This phenomenon is important in transpirational pull in plants. [Definition courtesy of Wikipedia.]) This ended my football career before it even started.
Later that same year, with my knee injury a faded memory, I tried to join the wrestling team. I lasted only a single day because I was teamed with the most effeminate guy in our class. Being in my pre-teen years and not yet fully developing my sexual persona, this made me uncomfortable and I decided that I would not return to the team. Thinking back, I also think that I was disappointed that the wrestling in school was not like the wrestling I would watch on television. I really just wanted to body slam someone.
Once in high school, the rules began to change. Our little group of gamers grew, and so did our interests with other games. This was the period of time where I experimented with any type of role playing game that I could find. It was also during these 4 years that my group became more aware of the local game store; Creative Pastimes.
Creative Pastimes was the only store in our city where you could purchase various RPG books. Sure, we had a B. Dalton and a Waldenbooks, but their selection was very poor. (More about these bookstores later.) This store not only had the books and boxed sets, but also had an incredible selection of dice! This is when we were introduced to superfluous dice such as the 30-sided and 100-sided dice. You really didn't need these dice, but they were like a status symbol because of their oddity and price. I recall that I spent $5 on my first 100-sided die. This was a time before the creative dice that we have now, such as steel dice, gem dice and other odd-sided dice.
This store also carried various other hobby and collectible items, such as dolls, trains, models and other toys. This made for divided attention on the part of the store clerk on duty. Please let me note this for the record: I do not condone the actions that I am about to describe that I and my group performed, and I do not feel good about what I have done. Do not take this as a suggestion that it is alright. The actions that I am about to describe here are illegal and immoral, and I have been living with these action on my conscious for years. I do not feel good for what I have done, but to tell my story properly, I must tell it right without omission.
Because Creative Pastimes was a fairly busy store, they generally only had a single clerk on duty, and the role playing section was in the back of the store, it was a prime target for shoplifting. We took advantage of this obvious flaw. We gained much of our Palladium system book collection from this method. I remember the first book I ever stole from them; Rifts. I loved that game for years, and the book became well worn. In an interesting twist of fate, after my high school years were behind me, this book would be stolen from me. I guess some might consider this a bit of Karma.
In 1993, Creative Pastimes closed its doors for ever. I felt horrible, and still do. Several years later, I would make friends with a man named Star. It turns out that he was the son of the couple who originally owned Creative Pastimes. The knife in my stomach that was the guilt began to slowly turn. I found out another several years later that Star died. The information I was given is that he took his own life, but I have never been able to confirm that. Nevertheless, I continue to feel the guilt of what I had done to Creative Pastimes and the family that owned it.
While in high school, I became friends with more people who would end up becoming my core gaming group. One of these friends, Ernie, had even developed his own role playing game that everyone enjoyed playing. I became so addicted to playing the game that I would call Ernie nearly every day after he returned home from working at a gas station so we could do some role playing over the phone. His shift ended at 9pm, he would get home around 10p, and my call would usually come at around 10:30p and we would end up gaming until 2a or later.
Needless to say, my parents weren't all that happy that I was on the phone for so long during the hours that I should be asleep. It got so bad that my father actually disconnected my phone jack from the main phone line. Some days later, while my parents were gone to work and I had time to myself, I opened the phone jack and figured out how to reconnect my phone.
In high school, when we weren't playing Ernie's game, we would play various games from the Palladium megaverse. Ernie was primarily interested in Robotech, my interested varied throughout the entire megaverse, and others in our circle were more interested in Rifts and Heroes Unlimited. The solution was simple... we play a game that included elements from all the various games.
I recall my favorite character that began in Beyond the Supernatural as a Parapsychologist (I believe), came over to Rifts and learned how to create and item that would allow him to use a power called Mechanolink. (At least, I think that is what it was called and how it was spelled.) This allowed him to learn everything about a devices, including how to repair it, how to make it work, and how to use it. This became very interesting when he came into contact with the various "mecha" in the world of Rifts, but became more useful once we ended up in the Heroes Unlimited world with other characters from Robotech. The character I had started out as a scientist now became someone who would pilot any vehicle or mecha he came in contact with. I wish I still had his character sheet so I could relate his actual evolution, but it has been lost to me for years. I believe that I may have thrown it away during one of the various moves I've made over the years.