Sometimes you can go back

Over the last few years, I’ve slowly forced myself to accept the fact that the Good Old Days of Roleplaying are more or less over for me. I don’t anticipate that I’ll ever again game with quite the frequency and intensity that marked my roleplaying game sessions in high school. And that’s OK, really; being married and having a job offer certain perks that 24/7 D&D marathons do not.

But last week, I came pretty darn close to temporarily reliving those halcyon days of gaming–it wasn’t quite as crazy as a typical high school game session was, but it came close enough that the ghost of my high-school self, smiling down from on high, must have been pleased.

The game was Warhammer Fantasy Role-play (the relatively recent Green Ronin edition), the player was my friend Mark from high school, and the campaign was (a shortened version of) “Ashes of Middenheim.” We played for much of Friday night, most of Saturday, and a good chunk of Sunday afternoon–pretty impressive for a couple of married adults with actual responsibilities that they should’ve been dealing with instead of sitting in the basement pretending to be dwarves and elves.

It was a blast, and there were plenty of opportunities to reminisce about the days of yore:

  • Something about mapping out battle scenes in a windowless basement and being periodically interrupted by a female calling down to remind us to eat really took me back to the good old days… when we gamed in the basement and were periodically reminded to eat by mom.
  • Warhammer has gory critical hit tables… just like good ol’ MERP and Rolemaster! Warhammer‘s tables are much smaller than the sprawling, many-page combat tables in the Rolemaster rulebook, but do outdo the competition in one respect: one of the critical hit results instructs the player to just make up a gruesome critical hit description himself. I don’t know what this says about Mark, but this invariably resulted in his enemy’s decapitation.
  • There was even one of those Great Gaming Moments–the kind where you call everybody to witness your die roll so that you won’t be accused of making it up. In a truly amazing series of die rolls, Mark–while confronting the Final Bad Guy, who was scarily tough–scored the mother of all critical hits. In Warhammer, if you roll a ’10’ (the maximum result) on a damage roll after hitting your opponent, there is a chance that you can roll another d10 and add the result to the first die roll. You repeat this until you roll something other than a ’10’. Four ’10’s later, Mark had accumulated enough damage to insta-kill the big bad guy that I’d carefully crafted to present an epic challenge for his character. That had us both grinning like… well, like nerdy kids playing D&D in their parents’ basement.

All in all, it was a lot of fun to be able to devote the better part of a weekend to a roleplaying game. Among other things, it let us play out a longer story to conclusion, rather than being forced by time constraints to run a short one-shot with little in the way of character development or storyline complications. There’s already been talk about making this an annual event. All I have to do now is make it through another long year of work and real-life responsibility…

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