Back in the Saddle Again, Part I (Deadlands RPG)

The last time I regularly played a tabletop role-playing game was probably 1991.   Back in those days the school holidays seemed to last forever and I gamed very regularly with multiple groups of friends.  RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Judge Dredd and Dragon Warriors were some of our favourite games and at times it felt like we devoted every waking moment to exploring a myriad of new and exciting worlds in our imaginations.

I ended up in a house share with some of my school friends in the late 90s and we dabbled a bit (mainly AD&D 2nd Edition) but we never really managed to get anything going so I drifted back into miniature wargames with the occasional board game and that’s more or less where my hobby time has been spent ever since.  I’ve picked up the odd RPG book or PDF every now and then over the years just to have a look through and always had the feeling that it’s something I’d go back to but it’s hard to get a group of people together and keep them motivated to play regularly.

I was therefore most intrigued to get an email from a friend I usually play miniatures games with asking whether I’d be interested in joining their regular RPG group now that I’d moved house and was in the area.  They have a well established group (20-30 years I think!) and are currently approaching the end of a Deadlands campaign that’s been running for a couple of years using the Savage Worlds system.  I was aware of Savage Worlds and even had the core book, although I’d never read any of it, so that came off the shelf and got dusted off.  As for Deadlands itself – I knew that it was a well established ‘weird west’ horror setting but had never read any of the books it so didn’t know anything more than that.

I’m well aware that nostalgia is a cruel beast and no matter how hard I tried, it wouldn’t be the same experience as playing day and night through the school holidays with some of my oldest and dearest friends who now live on the other side of the world but you have to move on and use that nostalgia fuel  your interest in trying new experiences and not let it hold you back by always comparing things to how they were in the ‘good old days’.  So trying to sound casual, I said – sure, why not?

Tabletop role-playing groups can have wildly different interpretations on how games should be played and groups dynamics and etiquette within a well established group of players can feel totally alien to a new player so I had no idea how this would pan out.  In the past I’ve played in groups that approached their games almost like project management exercises (it was still fun, just very structured), other groups that were more like a jamming session of improvised theatre where the rules were virtually ignored and many things in between the two extremes.  I dutiful wrote to my new GM to inform him of my planned holidays and lack of familiarity of the rules and had the reassuring response that it was all pretty casual so that was a good start.

Tonight I’ll create a character and try to familiarise myself with the core rules and then tomorrow night I’ll be back in the saddle again for the first time in over 20 years.


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