so I'm driving by the local game store and I remember, I ought to start a traveller game here. so I park and head in.
really a great store. models, rockets, board games, legos by the barrel, plastic dinosaurs/dragons/minotaurs/centaurs/you-name-it, fantasy art (the usual babes wearing plate mail bikinis), pretty much everything. one whole display case full of dice, all kinds and colors.
the rpg section is in the back room on the right, I have a look. the new dm's guide version 20 or something, monster manual, pathfinder, core rules for this, core rules for that. lots of star wars fighter combat game figures and rulebooks, something called "tank" with lots of tanks for sale, figurines large and small, comic books filling entire shelves and comic book posters that cover entire walls crowded with wild characters unleashing over-the-top powers.
on the bright side, no babes wearing battledress bikinis either. gotta stay positive.
I check with the guy behind the counter. I was hoping to get into a traveller game, anyone here play?
yeah, sci fi far future rpg, like firefly, jump between the stars ....
"oh, that. man, that's going back a ways."
"wasn't that the one where you can die when you're rolling up your character ...."
I nod. yep.
"yeah, that was ... that was unique." he looks aside as he rolls his eyes.
so, I'm looking in the back there and I don't see anything on it so I guess you might not have many people who play that?
"well those guys in the back are playing star wars battles, and mostly we have pathfinder and of course d&d. you could always come in and ask. we have one d&d group playing tomorrow night, they get really noisy and I sure could use an adult back there."
uh, well ....
"and you could ask these guys here."
yeah, I'll see what they're doing. I head on back.
four guys, a thousand pounds of gamer, though one of them is maybe 100 pounds. large battle mats, notebooks full of ship cards and pilot cards, ship models, counters/markers/predials/tabs spanning the rainbow and covering the tables. they're in full set-up mode, carefully placing astroid/debris terrain and measuring the fighters' initial placements on the mats. they ask if I want to join them, genuinely eager.
actually, I was hoping to find a traveller game.
puzzled looks. "what's that?"
sci fi far future rpg, like firefly, jump between the stars ....
they look at each other. one of them says, "star fleet battles." they all say, "oh yeah" and nod. they're not interested. I watch their game.
it's amazingly complex. carefully measuring out the fighters' movements, consulting each pilot and ship card, laying proximity mines, moving through debris, in-range out-of-range. the skinny guy knows the rules very well but frequently gets the details wrong, while his opponent knows everything by heart and just rattles off "can do this, can't do that" easily. counters and markers and predials and tabs everywhere. a very hands-on and tactile mental exercise. each "fighter" is a carefully crafted almost unique assembly of vehicle, pilot, and scenario features drawn from a vast range of pre-defined modular capabilities. the players are constantly moving, adjusting, checking, consulting - interacting mostly with the game, and secondarily with their opponent, and incidentally with the other player.
not like an rpg.
I go out and talk to the guy behind the counter. tomorrow night you say?
I plan on tomorrow.
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