Hosting games at the new place is helping get my hobby back on track since the local gaming store closed four months back. The experience has been positive all around. I’m reminded of my early days of gaming, when the experience was at home or going over to a friend’s house to game rather than meeting in a generic retail space. I grew up in a rural area, and never visited anything like a game store, unless you count hanging out in the gaming aisle at Toys’R’Us. There is something satisfying about hosting a game at home–preparing snacks and drinks to share with guests, feeling a sense of privacy at the table from public eyes, and truly making the tabletop experience a social activity.
So, with that in mind, I want to share what two friends each shared with me this week–items which reminded me of my early days of tabletop gaming. The first was from a relatively new friend–we’ve played a lot of Edge of the Empire RPG sessions together, along with talking about Shadowrun, Mouse Guard, and other roleplaying games. He gave me two boxes of lead figures which have been sitting in a box for at least 30 years, still with the original packaging foam intact.
These are the just like the lead figures I remember playing D&D with when I was in third grade, over at a friend’s house. He didn’t know how to paint them, so we just used them out of the box, and he had maps drawn on construction paper. I remember being intrigued by how I could use a sword tip of a figure to write on a piece of paper, just like a pencil at school.
When I was older, I was still playing D&D in high school, and I remember playing in a friend’s attic with figures–he had all of them painted with enamel paints. And they were ugly compared to what I see on the tabletop these days. But we still had fun with them.
The other gift was an online link to a PDF of the old Star Frontiers game. I may have started with D&D, but my favorite RPG in 4th grade was an epic science fiction opera with a range of aliens, huge starships, and wild adventure on a variety of worlds. I played a shapeshifter, and during lunch breaks and on Friday afternoons when the kids caught up on their homework for the week were allowed to read or play quietly in the back of the classroom, I played Star Frontiers with a couple other boys.
Sure, everyone remembers Gamma World, and I played that during my Junior High years. But Star Frontiers was more like Star Wars than the goofy post-apocalyptic setting of Gamma World. I don’t remember any particular adventures, just a vague notion that we had our own starship and explored some maps printed on graph paper.
Anyway, I don’t know if I’m going to paint those lead figures–I like having something which reminds me of my youth, as they are. And what young gamer would believe me if I told him they were lead under a layer of acrylic paint? Just the same that I probably won’t run a session of Star Frontiers–I enjoy the dynamic of the Edge of the Empire system from Fantasy Flight Games, and I have a hard time bringing myself to roll an old fashioned d20, and forget about trying to track the progress of the PCs using graph paper. Still, I appreciate those particular friends sharing these things with me.