The probably most embarrassing episode, that I can think of, is the one with Lars. He played any roleplaying game, that had occult over- or undertones, whether it was about ghosts, vampires or werewolves, about angels or demons, or conjurers and witches. There hardly wasn’t the system, Lars hadn’t tried, and I do believe that he for a period played any and all rpg campaigns about the occult. He even started dabbling with tarot cards, not because he believed in the cards, but because he wanted to immerse deeper into the roleplaying and to create a more authentic experience. Oh, there it is again, the ‘authentic’ experience. That’s the strange thing about roleplaying, it is always fiction, we are working with, yet one is always tempted by unattainable realism. Anyway, where was I? Right, Lars and his tarot cards. Anyway for better or worse, after a while Lars found a new group to play with. One by one he dropped his vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, and began to spend more and more time with the new group.
I started receiving complaints. Not from Lars, but from the groups, he usually played with. Those of them, that he still was playing with, mind you. They said he was unfocused and lethargic. That he didn’t write summaries or immersed properly in the game. As regional game master I was called in to have conversation with Lars and assess, what was happening. So … I had a meeting with him. He took the standard tests, he scored mediocre on rules knowledge, miserably on campaign lore and so forth. There was no doubt, that he was loosing it, and I therefore needed to have a talk with him.
So one afternoon he comes into my office. He is smiling all over his face, and when I asked why, he tells me, he is out gaming tonight. It is his new group, the one he is so happy about – and the one from which I had received no complaints at all nor heard about, well actually I wasn’t even sure, whether or not it was a sanctioned group at all – but happy he was. I therefore asked him as the most natural about the group, and what they were playing, and what he thought about it. He told me, it was a pretty new group, they played freeform, fairly much semi-live, and they usually played every fortnight. He was their game master. It was a rather unusual group, he told me. He had met them at the bookstore, when he was looking for inspiration for his character, and they had begun talking. One thing led to another, and soon he had an invitation for a game night at their place. He had been invited directly into their campaign having had a fantastic game night, not much later they invited him to participate again, but they wanted him in the role as their GM. He had asked for rules and systems, but had been told, that they didn’t use that, and that he should just continue in the style, that he had brought, when he participated the first time. He accepted that, and soon he was their regular game master.
“But what were they playing?” I asked him. At first Lars hesitated. It was freeform, he said, but none the less they had a terminology for most things, and with many of these games, that uses their own terms – as you know every system its own title for game master: Dungeon Master, Storyteller, Animator, Game Master, Referee, Keeper of Lore etc. Here he had the title of Medium, and they called their game nights for seances. The campaign, I was told, was centered around their characters trying to contact various NPC’s, who resided on the Astral plane – it sounded a lot like Dungeons & Dragons Planescape but without factions etc. – and Lars’ assignment was to play the various NPC’s, that the other players wanted to talk to. He loved it, for he could use his tarot cards to create NPC’s more or less spontaneously, and he didn’t have to worry much about plot, but just focus on immersing into the characters and deliver the answers, the players’ characters wanted.
I had not the heart to tell him, what was meant by seances and medium, but on the other hand, Lars have never gotten to this much roleplaying before nor immersing this much into so many different NPCs, since he became GM for the spiritists. I have at least never received any complaints from them about his abilities as a GM.
These stories are chosen and translated from a Danish Advent Calender (“julekalender”) for roleplayers. They are small, independent stories from the major Advent Calender story arc. In Denmark there is a long running tradition for Advent Calender stories (in the shape of radio plays, tv-series, written stories – but also as blogs with 24 daily blog posts counting down to Christmas) in 24 episodes running from the 1st of December til Christmas on the 24th of December (yes, Danes celebrates Christmas on the 24th).