Time to properly geek out.
Dan and John were at school with me. I don’t see my old school friends very often, to be honest, so it can be pleasant if I do it on purpose. I sat next to one ex school-person in a cafe by mistake over a year ago and listened to him lie to his earnest and hardworking employee. I sat next to him by sheer coincidence. He had been a weasel at school. No evolution for him, and it’s been decades. He’s worse now than he was then and be was bad back then. “You are the future captains of industry.” Gak. He has a small degree of power over people’s happiness on a larger scale now, but he has no perspective or empathy, as is encouraged in such institutions. ’twas ever thus.
These guys were alright at that place somehow. They still are. I don’t see them very often as we are clambering all over the big scary world together. We are absolute nerds, always have been, fine. I have no shame about that. Surrounded by sociopaths, we found joy in things like Dungeons and Dragons, more or less precisely because they were dismissed as uncool by the humans we disliked.
Dan went away to Canada and jumped from city to city, chasing his work in computer games. John stayed in London and got a proper job. I kept dreaming the impossible dream. A wandering bard.
Now, a hundred years later, Dan has returned and ended up in Portsmouth. He’s been here a while. Today, three old schoolfriends gathered to geek out, tolerated by Jules, Dan’s wife and an old mate, mostly avoiding the vast amounts of geek. If there was a geekter scale we would be sending out some dangerous emanations.
Game 1: Fortune and Glory. It’s an Indiana Jones game without the copyright and with too many pieces. Dan had 3D printed special trays to hold and help make sense of the multiplicity of counters and cards etc. There’s much that doesn’t make any sense in this game. The fact that the main currency of the game is glory – you use glory to buy equipment – and the win condition is fortune, which you just accumulate and can’t spend. We were up against The Nazis in a cooperative game. We thought it would probably take all day. It took four hours, which was much much shorter than wet anticipated. We won. Duke Dudley played his part in outsmarting the goose-stepping hordes. We put all the 3D printed trays back carefully in the box. It took almost as long to pack the box as it had taken to play the game. By the time we were done it was mid afternoon.
Megacity Oceania came next. I can heartily recommend that game. It’s a strange game about city building, there’s always something to do, and there’s a good creative element even though it’s not conducive to winning. I made some beautiful structures that I was proud of. “We’ve both done engineering degrees, and Al is making more robust structures,” Dan says at one point, just before one of mine fell down. I ended up a long way from winning though as I overlooked the need for tactics. I was too busy going for aesthetics. I enjoyed myself.
Moon Adventure came next. We all died on the moon in an electrical stormm in short order.
Finally “Roll Player”. Fantasy based dice jigging strangeness. Dan was a bard. He won. “It’s not easy to win as a bard. You actually have to have much higher stats than most other classes to be a successful bard,” Dan says to me. “It would’ve been easier as something else.” “You don’t say,” I remark mildly, but I don’t think he hears the nuance. “Yeah, look – he needs to get 18 in charisma!” I get shown the card.
I ram it home. “I always thought being a bard would require no particular stats – they just have to want to perform, no? If it’s hard for bards maybe they should just get a proper job.”
A glorious stupid geeky day. The years fell away, the strange perspective differences, the things that brought us together, the things that helped us notice we had different priorities and tastes and needs.
Now I’m down in the living room on an inflatable mattress. John is in the spare room. I’m gonna get jumped by the dog at dawn, but they’re right to put me here – I’m perfectly comfortable dossing down under almost any circumstance. Had I been given the choice I would’ve likely chosen it.
“You need 18 charisma to win as a bard…” I’m working on the win. Might need to get some lucky rolls. For now though I’m getting stuck in with my old mates. Nice to change the pace from time to time. And we were fed beautifully! Omnomnom. And likely given too much wine hence the clumsy analogy.