It’s been raining here for most of the night. Not one of those downpour-type rains where it’s pounding against the house, but rather one of those steady drizzles that maintain their constancy and volume through the day and night.
And it’s also chilly outside; it was down in the 40’s last night and it’s going to be like mid-50’s with a lot of wind today. It’s dark, it’s crummy . . . so what else comes to mind but–
Oh, yeah. I know you thought I was gonna say something else, but no: gaming came to mind. In particular, the title of this point relates back to a game I ran so very long ago, and that makes me think about something else . . . no, not sex–
Allow me to elucidate.
For the longest time I’ve been a gamer. It really all started in 1974 with war gaming, but 12 years later I was getting into role playing. It wasn’t long after that I started running games–or “GMing” for you non-gamer types–and I quickly discovered that if you wanna have a good game, you have to learn to get inventive and imaginative pretty damn fast.
I also learned that when you spend 6 hours with 4 or 5 other people, all of whom are coming up with all sorts of crack-pot shit about what they want their characters to do, and you’re trying to keep of that while remembering where you had their characters go and who their character ran into, I had to figure out a way to keep all this straight in my mind.
Thus began the creation of my game logs.
I needed these to keep my own sanity, because I knew somewhere along the line one of my players would say something like, “Oh, yeah, my character got that Warhammer from so-and-so, and it already came with that Ultimate Badness Weapon.” And naturally, if I didn’t have any way to disprove his claim, I could find myself in a situation where I’d spend most of an hour arguing that fact.
With my log, however, I could just go to the computer, pull up the session where said player got the Warhammer (it’s a mech, Jim) and tell the player, “No, you’re wrong. See? You got the Normal Crappy Weapons, so sit down and be happy.”
My game logs became something more than just a way of seeing what happened. Because I didn’t want bore myself with a lot of cold, hard facts, I tried to write my logs in a way that were, shall we say, entertaining? Now, sure: I would be the only one looking at them, but why not be a little inventive when describing the sort of crazy hell that is a role playing session? I mean, if you’re a writer, you gotta entertain yourself as well as your audience, right?
And while I was writing I decided to extend that into the world of the characters. During the 2 1/2 year run of my MechWarrior game I wrote 6 articles by one Winslow Duke, who had a very unique outlook on life, politics, and war in that particular 31st Century universe. When I ran Cyberpunk for nearly the same amount of time I was always doing little writeups for the players, giving their characters a bit of a personalized window the events of the world.
And when things started moving more onto the Internet, my logs went there as well.
Eventually I started running a couple of games based off 0f TV shows, Farscape and Serenity. Both these games had established online communities, and as I wrote up my logs I began posting them for others to see. Why? Because I wanted people to see what I was doing, but also because I wanted to entertain. By this time my logs were getting more detailed, but they were turning more into semi-stories than simple explanations of what had happened during a game.
There was some great writing in my logs, and I feel it helped me at the time learn to be not only descriptive, but it helped improve my imagination as well. Running a good game is like creating a good story: they are both one in the same in my mind. And so, when you write about what happened during that session, you want to try to impart the feeling of what happened to the people who are reading.
I’ve lost my logs to my early games, but I still have my last two. To say I keep detailed recording off all that happened would be damning those logs with faint praise. My Serenity logs ran 108 pages and 64,200 words, while my Farscape logs ran 150 pages and 89,900 words. And I have to say, I have some great writing in there, ’cause at the time, I really needed to entertain myself.
I’ve told people that one day I’m going to publish these logs, because they do show how I was developing as a writer–and they’re damn fun to read. Or at least I think so. Maybe people who aren’t into gaming would find them interesting. I would hope they’d look at the writing and examine the creativity that went into the story behind the writing, and understand and enjoy what I was doing.
And if you, the reader, like what I was doing, then I succeeded.
Because, in the end, it’s always about being entertaining.