Monthly Archives: July 2011

Do your friends and acquaintances know about your hobby?

     It wasn’t long after I discovered gaming that I realized there was a certain stigma attached to it.  Even in my early teens, it was clear that allowing certain people to know too much about my hobby would open me up to all sorts of ridicule.  In the early 80’s, this often took one of three different forms.

     First, you had the classic high school peers:

“He reads books?  He must be a nerd!”

     The religious relative angle:

“Oh, don’t let him play those games.  Those games are the work of the devil.”

     Finally, the overly concerned neighbor who happened to watch Mazes & Monsters

“Is that the game that causes children to want to murder their parents and commit suicide?”

     If it’s true that ignorance is bliss, then I reckon that the 80’s were a very happy decade for folks.

     Luckily for me, I was born to parents who didn’t have their heads firmly planted up their asses.  My parents actually took the time to engage me and see what my interests were.  When I had my first brush with Dungeons and Dragons, they looked into it.  While I can’t say that they totally understood it, they were quite comfortable that it would foster my love of reading, wasn’t urging me to summon demons, and in no way suggested that I kill my family members.  As such, I got the green light and was a happy young gamer.

     I’ve never thought of myself as much of a conformist but I will admit to largely keeping my hobby to myself while at high school.  It just wasn’t worth all the nonsense to me.  For example, one day I saw a fellow gamer roll into home room with a Monster Manual in tow.  This prompted a look of horror from the teacher and students which would have been what I would have expected if he’d produced a severed head from a bowling bag.  Yeah, I didn’t need that kind of attention.

     As I got around to dating age, I experienced this even more.  I loved gaming but teenage hormones clearly won that battle.  It was fairly clear to me that talking about paladins and clerics was going to do little for my dating career.  Typically, I would keep my hobby to myself until I had been with someone for a while.  I would then kind of casually bring it up as I became certain that they wouldn’t run screaming from the building.

     In my professional life, I was often too busy for the subject to come up.  I’ve noticed, over the years, that gamers often operate as if part of some secret society.  On many occasions, a coworker will make an obscure reference and then wait.   If someone happens to pick up on it, then it’s suddenly “oh, you’re one of us”.

     At this point in my life, most of my acquaintances know about my hobby.  There are some who don’t but largely, that’s because we’re not all that close.  I’m not terribly proud of the fact that I spent such a large part of my life remaining relatively quiet about something I enjoyed.  However, it certainly made for a smooth ride and I don’t feel that I missed out on anything due to it.

     My question is, did any of you folks experience similar situations with your hobby?  Have you always shouted your love of gaming from the highest rooftops or have you had a more cloak & dagger experience?  Please leave a comment and let me hear your stories.

10 Comments

Filed under My Background

Monsters in your own backyard

     Do you have any monsters in your own backyard?

     For the past year or so I’ve lived in a rural town in southeastern, Ohio.  On my first full night, while my girlfriend was at work, I grabbed my camera and headed off to a place which I’d been wanting to visit for over 20 years.

     A 30-minute drive took me across the border, into West Virginia.  In the town of Point Pleasant, I parked my truck and set off in search of my quarry.  It happened to be a dark, rainy night but I didn’t mind.  In fact, the weather made the experience that much better.  I walked up and down the quiet streets, craning my neck around every corner, not entirely sure that I would find what I was looking for.  Finally, about a half mile from where I had parked, I saw it.  There before me was the statue of the Mothman!

     45 years ago, two couples from Point Pleasant claimed to have encountered a 7-foot-tall creature with large wings and glowing red eyes.  They reported that the creature chased them for some time before they were finally able to escape it.  In the months to follow, more sightings of the “Mothman” were reported.  Some claimed it to be a supernatural creature, others said that it might be an alien life-form, others yet insisted that it must be a hoax.

     Ultimately, the reports pretty much ground to a halt after the Silver Bridge (connecting Point Pleasant, WV to Gallipolis, OH) collapsed on December 15, 1967.  While this tragedy likely calmed the hysteria that had been prevalent in the area, some claimed that there was more to it.

     Based on the frequent sightings of the Mothman prior to the bridge collapse, some claim that he was a  harbinger of doom.  In the years to follow, there have been reports of Mothman sightings prior to other disasters, in various locales around the United States. 

     While the story garnered enough press coverage to warrant a book and even a Hollywood movie (albeit only loosely based on the story), it’s still a rather obscure legend.  Compared to the Loch Ness Monster & Bigfoot, the Mothman is hardly a household name. 

     I’m drawn to legends like the Mothman specifically because of their obscurity.  They’re out there and just about every community has them.  Hell, I could just as easily be writing about the White Lady, who supposedly haunts the shore of Lake Ontario, in my hometown of Rochester, NY. 

     As gamers we’re all accustomed to having a level of familiarity with legendary creatures from thousands of years of history.  The words “dragon”, “vampire”, or “goblin” immediately bring hundreds of vivid images to our minds.  A party who is told that they’re facing a vampire will immediately have some ideas as to how to proceed.  Challenge that same party with a three-headed, crab monster and all bets are off.  For every superstar of the monster world, just imagine how many little-known myths there must be out there.

     I’ve been blessed in my life to be able to travel quite a bit.  One of my favorite things to do while I’m off adventuring is to ask people about local legends and myths.  I get some odd looks while doing this but every so often, I get some fantastic stories.  That said, I’ll now put that question to you.

     Since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” quite a number of interesting folks, from all over the world.  Please take just a minute and leave a quick comment.  Are there any juicy myths or legends from your area?  You can be as brief or detailed as you like but I would love to hear about the monsters in your own backyard.

3 Comments

Filed under Legends & Tales, Random Stuff

The Horror of Talaraska pt.1 (practice battlemap)

     I’ve spent the week, continuing to tinker with learning how to make maps with Gimp.  This is my first run at a battlemap, for a short encounter called The Horror of Talaraska.

     I hope to have the full encounter posted by week’s end.  This whole business is very new to me so I’d greatly appreciate any tips or feedback that you folks can offer.

     As with everything else, if anyone can find any use for this, by all means use it.  All of the brushes and textures used in this are community created and can be found at one of the following wonderful resources:   http://dundjinni.com/, http://cartographersguild.com/, & http://rpgmapshare.com/

3 Comments

Filed under Legends & Tales, Savage Worlds