Original Tales, Borrowed Worlds

A few things have made themselves clear these last couple of months. None more certain than the boat I’m on is taking in too much water. And while three of us are trying to toss the water out, two others are intent on bucketing more in. It’s hard not to feel stressed out about this. Honestly, this is the same song and dance we’ve been doing since I arrived several years ago. The only difference is my role in the whole mess of things. And while I’m rebellious by nature, when it comes to what pays the bill, I fall in line rather quickly. And I will protect myself from being axed by any means necessary. So when it came to my ideas of activities, I remained silent. None of that mattered to me at the time. It’s not that I don’t have ideas; it’s just at this moment, I’m not interested in seeing them coming to fruition. Mostly, because I don’t know where I stand in the current regime. And where I’ll be in a few months.

One thing I do want to bring into the department is tabletop role playing games. Duckie and I toyed with the idea in the past. Back when Crissy was still around, Duckie was still in the department, and I was on a path to possible supervisor position. Except, none of that happened. Crissy left. Duckie left. And my life took a turn. (Though, let’s be honest, had it not changed, they didn’t want me because I came with some risks.)

Since I’ve been binge watching Geek & Sundry’s We’re Alive: Frontier, the want to introduce the children into the world imagination driven gaming has increased. So much so, that I asked Shaun if he’d be interested in partaking in it. I received a shrug. I’ll try to convince the cousins to play too, but they’re children of short attention span and YouTube videos.

Dungeons and Dragons was my original intent. After reading articles how to make it kid friendly (focus more on the story, less on stats yada yada yada), I still didn’t know how to make it work for a library setting. (Actually, this is a lie because there are several ways for me to make it library friendly.) I looked into D&D-esque children’s RPG texts, but none of them hit the right feeling. The closest was Little Wizards, but I wasn’t feeling the whole kids-with-magic ordeal. (The last thing I need are kids fighting over who gets to be Harry Potter.)

And that’s why We’re Alive: Frontier breathed life back into the vision. The world takes place in the We’re Alive world (if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you’re missing out!) but the game play is based on Outbreak: Undead. I’ve never played this one before, nor have I read the guide book. But part of my resistance to wanting to introduce children to this game is the use of firearms and that most of the baddies will be humans. And that’s when Max Brallier’s post-apocalyptic series comes in.

I never read the series, but its potential of RPG storytelling isn’t lost on me. When the first novel came out, it was described as a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Walking Dead. How could I not be intrigued? The books are extremely popular at the library. So much so, that I purchased my own copy today because it was never on the shelf at work (we have four copies in circulation).

I’m assuming that Outbreak: Undead is limited in the monster category while D&D (and those like it) is too packed with magic. So I started looking into other games. The one that seems about right is Kids on Bikes. But I’m still looking for something that could work that isn’t too rule-bloated for a elementary aged kids. Once I find the perfect rule book, I can use the world that Brallier created for this series and create adventures within it. Hopefully that assists with our need for getting more butts in the seats while still promoting the joy of reading (read the book, get inspiration).

Let’s see how it works.

Nerd Night


For a moment there, the feeling of being back in college hits me. Books lie strewn upon my bed, each opened to a different chapter but roughly offer me the same ideas. A composition book rests open besides my journal; notes scrawled upon their pages that extend past the margins. Several tabs are opened on Chrome. And I skim each of them in hopes that the next offers more insight on the subject matter than the last. Thing is, I never placed this much effort in my college studies. Or my high school studies. Junior high? Maybe. Elementary? Possible.

Opened on my bed are the books Eberron: Campaign Setting, Complete Divine, D&D Player’s Handbook (fifth edition), and Maze of the Blue Medusa. This doesn’t include the books opened on my tablet: a 4th edition companion book that moves the D&D world into a futuristic setting and Ultramodern 5. The opened tabs hold suggestions for race/class creations. Articles that document campaigns set in the modern world. Ideas for alternate histories and futures. Amalgamated cyberpunk worlds that borrow ideas from Warhammer 40k and other RPGs. A plethora of information available for me, and it gets my blood excited.

My idea? Create the perfect setting for Zak Sabbath and Patrick Stuart’s Maze of the Blue Medusa. I didn’t want to hand off the book to Duckie after reading the first few pages. While it’s perfect for a medieval setting, I wanted something much darker and grim than that. Reading the maze’s history, images of a dystopian, cyberpunk future began to push forth in my mind. A character named Trashcan came into being. An e-mail set to the heroes began to write itself. (O.k., I haven’t thought it all the way through, but there aren’t any scrolls in the future; I figured that there’d be something resembling e-mail than a paper message.)

As I continue reading the book, the more the ideas spring into life. Originally, I was going to follow the cyberpunk system presented in a forum. Now I’m thinking of stealing bits of it, but keeping races found in 5e. And one found in 4e. And one found in the modern companion for 4e. Plus ideas from the 3.5e books.

It’ll be months before any of this is ready, I’m sure. So while we play the Book of Malor, I’ll be working on this campaign. I’ll be creating player ready characters (unless I create a micro manual for the players), lovable NPCs (Trashcan can’t last forever—yes, I already wrote his demise which will happen soon or way later, depending on when creature responsible for his death makes an appearance), and situations to put the heroes in that will cause them to get lost and separated from each other.