Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Revisiting Greatness

The Star Wars campaign that began in South Dakota all those years ago, and which has grown to include about everyone I consider a friend, is a source of great joy in my life. The shared history that I have with these people—real and game history—is part of the fabric of who I am. And so it was with great anticipation that I greeted the chance to sit down with a few of my far-away friends and revisit this history one more time. 

It began while chatting with a friend (Steve, the other one) online. He said he was heading back to Vermillion for a game-weekend there. I said I was envious. There was a pause in our chat, then suddenly he comes back with "You know, plane fare from Florida to Colorado is only $218." I am not a spontaneous person, but...about a week after this discussion, I was flying to Colorado in order to meet up with Steve (the other one) and drive to Vermillion. 

For the 8+ hours of the trip, I ran a couple adventures for Steve—fleshing out his position as governor of Mandalore. This began with a hunt for an ancient, Mandalorian weapons cache (which netted him some Basilisk War Droids) and eventually turned into a trial by combat battle with Boba Fett for the title of Mandalore (after Fett decided he was going to assume the title). The play was awesome. The final battle incredibly dramatic. The 8+ hours passed in a blink. A very good start to the weekend. 

As a side-note, Steve's character did defeat Fett. In fact, he wound up killing him. I know many GMs and players out there would probably see this as a 'jump the shark' moment in a campaign. After all, Fett is a bad-ass. But then again, this campaign is now 13 years past the battle of Yavin. The PCs are now on about the same level as many of the Feature Characters in the galaxy. Plus, in the 'canon' of the movies, Fett actually died (like a punk) in the Sarlac's belly. At least in this case, he went out with a bang. The fight between Oman (Steve's character) and Fett actually went on for an epic 20+ combat rounds—and for the first 3-quarters of that, Oman was losing. It was again one of those rare moments when dice rolls and storyline work together.

In any case, my arrival in South Dakota turned out to be quite a surprise for our host, Steve—likewise for Todd and Martin, who were also in town for the weekend. Needless to say we planned on playing Star Wars. And play we did. Oh, it wasn't the marathon all-day-all-night sessions we used to be able to pull off, but what we lacked in hours, we made up for in quality. It was like meeting two sets of 'old friends' again—the players and their characters. Once again, Arianne the Jedi, Bob the Tusken, Horatio the Pirate and Oman the newly christened Mandalore were in action together. 

It reminded me of the good old days. None of these guys had lost a beat as far as roleplaying goes. In fact, they'd all gotten better with age. There were many many memorable moments in these sessions, in and out of character. And so many good ideas that it threw me for a loop (in a very good way) as a game-master. They kept surprising me with their ingenuity and their audacity and wound up foiling several different plot points. In fact, due to a brilliant idea by Oman (brilliantly executed by the entire party), they actually wound up saving Coruscant (or at the very least, saving the Republic fleet from a major defeat). 

Despite the bitter-cold of the South Dakota winter, the trip was a blast. Even after about 18 years, the campaign and the characters haven't lost much steam. Table-top gaming as a form of recreation seems to be slowly dying out. But it continues to be my favorite hobby—and one of the best ways to spend time with good friends. 

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