A Little Bit of Humble Pie

Thanks to Heath Lees and http://williambeem.com for my
slice of humble pie today!

I have been running a Play by e Mail game of Earthdawn since around the year 2000.  The game is Earthdawn and we have had good and bad times with the game.  the game came about as I moved from my regular players of a face to face game I was running so I decided to run the game by email once I moved so it has now been running for a little over 13 years.

However, the past four years have not been good for the game.  I had fallen into a deep depression for some time and the posts became fewer and further between.  I realised my players had been a stable group for a while so I attempted to recreate their characters and revitalise it but the book keeping for five or six players as well as the game was wrecking my sanity even further.  I have never called the game off as it is telling a story that I have always wanted to tell.  Ever since reading one of the particular sourcebooks of first edition Earthdawn I have always wanted to tell this story.  And it is a story that deserves to be told.  The players in the game are really only about three quarters of the way toward finding what the story is about.  If you want, the prologue.  It has been probably two or three months since the last post and I got an email today titled Eulogy – Bush Namur which is the name of the campaign where many of my current players joined, I had actually run Mists of Betrayal prior to this.  The email read;


Friends,
It is with a heavy heart, that I stand before you all today to deliver this eulogy for our old friend, “The Game.”  Our friend, the game started over a decade ago, a humble little thing, it was a gathering of misfits, who were thrown together and pushed out the door into the big wide world.  Through the common bond of a love for a good game, a bastard GM as well as mutual experiences, friendships, which endure to this day were formed.  I like to think that each of the characters bore more than a passing resemblance to one aspect of each of our personalities.  From stolid Elven Nethermancer, with a tendency to rub daisies on his stinky bits, through to our latest addition, a wise cracking, though slightly timid T’Skrang and wrinkly old Illusionist with some fancy duds.  “The Game” allowed me to express myself through the written word, as well as investigate my own creative side, complete with a gutter mouthed ork with a penchant for nick names and a desire to see elf maidens in wet clothing…

Special mention must be made of the steely eyed, though evil GM who was fondly labelled “The Bastard GM’ for his tendency to pull stunts and wound characters or even off them at inopportune times.  Like J.R.R Martin he would regularly fashion NPC’s who you had a connection with and just when you felt comfortable with them and felt that you had finally found your side kick, he would off them.  To this day, I still picture him sitting there in a dank little closet of a room, a single candle burning and rubbing his hands together as he laughed a high pitched yet evil laugh, killing his creations.  It was not just his creations who he offed, with at times unrestrained and apparent glee and gusto.  Many a PC, whose reigns had been handed to him met a terrible and grisly end.  No amount of wheedling, pleading, bribery or even outright threats to his person would bend this stickler for the rules or his “grand plan” which appears will never be revealed.  Damn you…I wanted to know about the Corinthian and his plans.  However, despite his “bastard” tendencies, it was readily apparent that no small amount of time was spent crafting his own vision of the world.  Care and passion was laced through each post, which had many of us itching to receive and then reply to week after week and pushed us to be creative.  Thank you.

Well my friends, I think I have waffled enough.  So it is with a heavy heart, that I thank you all for your friendship, the laughs I have had and also pushing my creativity.  The next round is on the Daisy Eaters, try not to step on the T’Skrangs tail or sit on the Windling and Fancy Pants, could you make that ugly thing by the bar more comely for the Ork with a belly full of Hurlg!  (Unless there is one more post for the old girl…come onnnnnn over a decade cannot go out with a whimper like this.)

Heath.
Great roleplaying game rich with background!

Heath (Lees) is one of my best distance mates.  A guy that I met through this game and visited with my wife and we have become good mates.  So this coming from him did serve to slap me across the face to some degree.  It brought home to me the effect that my non-posts were having.  I am on the repair from my depression but a lot of my gaming has now been aimed toward hangout and face to face gaming.  But this campaign sits with me as a part of me and my players deserve more.  But I cannot face the administration of the characters and the game as well.  So I replied immediately upon reading the email with the following;

You drama queen Lees.  I have been thinking of how I can make this a little more relevant.  Earthdawn has gone through many changes over the time and I am afraid that it is with these many editions that I have been trying to come to terms with as well as the fact that many of the characters have no firm character sheet in this world.

So I offer this reinvention as it is the story that I want to tell.  It is a story that I have been trying to tell ever since I read a particular sourcebook as a 20 something year old and I believe it a story worth telling.  

I want to continue this game and (hand on my heart) to offer something as prosaic (read over the top) as Mr Lees, I the aforementioned Bastard GM Martin (read Mark) will devote myself to this post once a fortnight, starting from this Sunday should the players accept the following changes;
  1. Character sheet-less game; which in turn means
  2. Mechanic-less game; which in turn means
  3. Story driven.

I offer a game where we remove the mechanics and tell the story with an Earthdawn bent.  That is you continue with the concept of your characters e.g. play your discipline, but I relieve the need for the massive amount of record keeping that goes along with it.  I will advise you every now and again that you circle up and you can increase the power of your characters through your written posts including increasing spells etc.  Talents you can fashion from the books if you have them or as long as they seem in line with the discipline I will gladly accept any description from you.

So what say you people of the game?

The Bastard GM Martin

Mark

I have not looked at my email all day and so it was with some pleasure that I have read many positive messages from all my players.  They are keen on this systemless Earthdawn setting based game.  And best of all I got this from Heath in a message entitled the truth (I am sure he will not mind me sharing these and if he does, he has a gun!);

I have a confession to make, I have been following your blogs on a semi regular basis and the pathfinder material.  Your post in relation to how distressed you were when you could not engage in your normal cathartic release of gaming got me thinking, that I am also missing the one stable gaming group I have ever been involved in and the anticipation that I had when I used to open the email client and would see one of your posts.  Whilst I can understand the emotion you feel at not having a face to face game, there are in fact some dedicated gamers, who have been with you for over a decade who also enjoyed the creative outlet of gaming, even if they are geographically challenged.  I am sure that it does not perhaps come with the buzz associated with a face to face game, however there is still a lot of merit and pleasure to be derived from a PBeM, especially when you have some players who have invested heavily in it.  I have undertaken a co-operative free writing game before as you suggest and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The free form type game allows a lot of expression in the writing and is particularly pleasureable for those who have a gift with the written word and those who enjoy reading.  Particularly when you can re word the events from the perspective and thought process of your own character.  I am again…giddy with excitment upon opening the email client.

As always, your annoying and bothersome friend,
Heath.

So I have had the need to eat a little bit of humble pie and realise that as bad as my life may be sometimes there are other people that are involved in my life who I respect and care for.  And at times they rely on me and value my input.  So it is time to give all my gaming streams the respect they deserve.  my PBeM is as important as my hangouts and my in person games.  In fact, to me the story I am portraying has been inside me for a long time.  I have never told a single soul this story although I have known it intimately for around twenty years now.

Viva le Game!

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