Tuesday, March 04, 2008

there was an Observer colour supplement with a children's section with earnest debates about banning school uniform and old Flash Gordon strips; and there was two column inches about a game where you searched for treasure and a picture of a painted playing piece in the shape of a wizard

there was a pretentious black and white Hulk comic with a small-ads section and the stamped addressed envelope came back with a catalogue and photocopied reviews of games about aliens and red moons and dragons

there was a shop which sold joss-sticks and wooden toys for art-teachers' children and crystal coloured paperweights and unofficial Star Wars toys called force blades which had just stopped being new and a shrink wrapped box with a rule book, a set of dice and the first adventure; and even now the word polyhedral makes the room smell of Micronauts and Elfquest and The Eternals; and even if I had been able to afford it it wouldn't have been a good buy

I never did play Keep on the Boarderlands and never really wanted to

there was a shop in Finchley which sold toy trains and aeroplanes for grown ups and there was just one shelf which had maybe 20 metal models; a knight, a skeleton, a spider, some wizards, they came in small plastic bags with cardboard labels and handwritten descriptions; and next door there was a very small shop that only two or three people could fit in at a time that sold military wargames with hex boards for grown ups and I bought a red twenty sided dice with the numbers 0-9 on it twice and had to paint half the numbers with a dab of silver paint to make it serviceable for rolling 1 - 20

there was the blue book with the dragon on the front

there was me and Shaun and Jeffrey and Roger and Martin and green graph paper from the back of a maths books and a knight and a wizard and some skeletons and a spider and on the lowest level there was a small black dragon and when it finally died they all cheered and I was the referee

there was the temple of Tegas-fer-Rogan which was so epic that it needed three exercise books and ran for an entire weekend

there was Mormegil the Black who had tatoos on his face because of Acroyear in Micronanuts and for many years the only use for the Silmarillion was to pull out names at random for my characters; I read Lord of the Rings over and over but Shaun and Jeffery preferred Conan; I found Conan dull especially when he replaced The Avengers in their own comic but not as dull as Master of Kung Fu

there was Scorpion and the guild of assassins and Mormegil standing on his comrade's coffin fighting off the ninja so he could take it to town and buy a resurrection spell

there was Ken Livingstone and the idea that you should be able to afford to travel by tube which made Mrs Thatcher so angry but for 6 months I traveled from Cockfosters to Hammersmith for 50p every single Saturday and walked down the alley with a fence on either side and walked past the rows and rows of xeroxed pamphlets and said "Is the Dungeonmasters Guide out yet?" and it wasn't

there was a magazine with a yellow cover and line drawings of dwarfs and an article about Diplomacy and pictures of monsters and it was talking about rulebooks I had never heard of, Eldritch Wizards and Blackmoor and Ardiun Grimoire as if I they had been playing them forever and I have never felt so much like an outsider and never wanted more badly to be an insider and I never, ever was

there is a dining room table, and cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, and at lunch time there are tins of Co-Op vegetable soup and fresh rolls from the baker and exercise books and character sheets pulled sparingly off an official pad and coloured cardboard floor plans representing rooms and corridors and miniatures which were never quite painted and never quite matched the adventure and pencils and biros and rubbers and dice which had had all the good numbers rolled out of them and shouting and talking in funny voices

there is the part which says that this world of the lizard men who live in tunnels under the city and orcs who live in the caves and my sword with runes on it is like the trailer for the cartoon said a world more real than any other; and there is the part which says that it is all just dice and all just numbers; and I have read in The Beholder that there are betters ways with stories and cities and characters who make sense

one day, there will be college and Martin and Pod and Varos and Asmee and the special game that went on for years and years and after that there will be Star Wars and Pendragon and Southern Provinces and LARPs and freeforms

today, there 40 kobolds, AC 7 , hit on 11+ on the red dice with silver paint and against them stand Mormegil the fighter and Scorpion the assassin and Medalf the wizard and also an Elf.

"this must be the entrance to the dungeon: we will find what we're looking for here”

so let it be with Ceasar