#3: The Game That Was
This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue.
An old friend came to visit the other day; I’ll call him K. When I say ‘old’, we go way back; to school some 35 years ago; we were best men at each other’s weddings, have holidayed together with family—his four daughters and my two—and so on. At school, K’s natural genius meant that he could play miniatures war-games through his O-levels (aged 16) and pass, and run D&D adventures through his A-levels (aged 18) and pass easily. Unfortunately I missed the latter as by that time I was elsewhere. But I heard they were great games.
On this particular visit, along with his wife he brought 17-year-old daughter and 15-year-old daughter, plus a male friend of the younger one. As we sat chatting in the shadow of an Ikea bookshelf pretty much stuffed with Traveller books stretching across 35 years, it wasn’t long before one of them noticed the collection and asked about it. Well, that was too good an opportunity to miss and they got an enthusiastic summary of Traveller and what it was about. Their interest piqued, they wanted to know if they could ‘play’ and of course I thought it would be easy enough to at least to take them through generating some characters.
A little while later with their character sheets in hand, it was hardly surprising that they then wanted to actually play. To be honest, my nerve failed me at that point and I doubted I could ‘perform’ adequately at such short notice; not to mention the fact that I was feeling rather unwell. But K had seen the writing on the wall and had used the character generation time to think up a small plot. He was skilled enough to run it as we went; with the advantage that at last I would get to play in one of his games.
Our characters were an eclectic bunch but somehow K drew us together successfully and off we went. Suffice to say that the rest of the afternoon passed in fun and excitement as we endeavoured to uncover what was going on around us and at first escape from, and subsequently confront, the baddies. It was interesting as well to be both playing a character and advising K on the ‘Traveller’ aspects of the universe which he only vaguely knew.
If there’s a lesson to be learned it is two-fold: firstly, never miss a chance to proselytise about Traveller—the three young ones have all returned to colleges and university and tracked down role-playing clubs to join. Secondly, always be prepared to run a game if you're asked! It’s unlikely to happen often, but there’s a little part of me that regrets not seizing the opportunity to run a pre-prepared game of my own. On the other hand, there was the treat of seeing K in action and—for someone who tends to massively over prepare—learning from how he dealt with the situation.