Outside Looking In: What Does Fun Look Like?
After a month of furious preparation, a strained birthing process, and me coming very close to losing my sanity the night before the event, POLYHEDRAL happened. In the aftermath we’ve been told that this is the first real pen & paper RPG event here in Manila, and I have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept.
For the first round, Matthew and I got to watch the games from the outside looking in as our guest GMs brought their various worlds to life. Whether it was the cynical era of Star Wars Legacy, the mean streets of Shadowrun or Dungeons and Dragons as touched by Filipino folklore. We marveled at seeing them weave a story with words and have a table of veterans and newbies entirely immersed.
Photography by Jme Macaspac
I’ve always loved the social and imaginative aspect of the game, but watching others go through it, some for the first time and others for the nth time, made me realize how special it really is. This is something that can’t happen while you’re plopped down in front of a computer, moving polygons and pixels around as you explore a world whose aesthetics have been dictated to you, a narrative that is usually static and limited.
The true experience of the pen & paper RPG, is that it’s a social one based on the willingness to immerse yourself in a world that is limited only by your imagination. At the Star Wars table it was easy to see who sat proudly as a Wookiee bounty hunter, who waved their hands as a jedi, and who clenched their fists as siths. The Shadowrunners were all business, looking over floor plans and weapon specs as they planned a heist that promised money and danger. At the D&D: Buan table warriors of the earth rolled critical as they defeated monstrosities.
Photography by Jme Macaspac
I couldn’t help but smile as I watched people who hadn’t met before that day sit at the same table, roll dice, laugh, kick ass, and all actively participate to bring a story to life. The energy in the air was electric, as expressions of discovery colored the faces of each players. Watching them push tentatively at limits of the world and enjoy the sweet success of a critical roll was amazing. It didn’t matter who rolled it, a critical hit is always a cause for celebration.
What Matthew and I really strove to create with POLYHEDRAL was a sense of community, a place that welcomes anyone and everyone interested in playing the game, whether or not they’ve had a chance to before. Dice was shared, support was given, new friendships formed, and stories were made real. Seeing everyone have a genuinely good time made all the worry, all the stress, and all the loss absolutely worth it.
In the last few hours I sat at a table containing new and old faces. Leaving behind the role of a spectator, I gladly took on the role of storyteller and guide. I spoke in voices, gestured dramatically, switched persona and described the world and its events as my characters interacted with it. I was once again a Game Master. Watching the newbies marvel at the dice and ask about the world of Eberron made me glad to come back into the world of a game played at a table.
Even more satisfying was watching the look on the faces as I weaved a tale of lost love and blind hope turned into tragedy. Describing the ghost cart that haunted the Mournland Express, and its conductor that searched the magically devastated wastelands in futility, touched the heart of my players. I am always thankful and humbled about how strangers are willing to trust in my story and make it their own.
Thank you so much to everyone who came to POLYHEDRAL, and gave the writers behind this blog a chance to share what we love about the game with you. May the gods of the dice bless your new forged partnerships, and may you all roll high as you create awesome stories of a decidedly kick ass nature.