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.

The collective high from the tension inducing Gladiator Game produced great moments! Photograph by Jme Macaspac.

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.

9 Responses to “Outside Looking In: What Does Fun Look Like?”
  1. Baki says:

    sorry the rest of us nerds downstairs weren’t able to join the rpg’s, we kept raf and mia company coz raf couldn’t take his wheelchair up. plus boardgamez. fun event though!

    • no worries! i also had another friend who couldn’t make it due to physical difficulties. we’re going to plan the next event at an area that’ll be more accessible to everyone who wants to join, i would have loved to see raf and mia roll 😀

      thanks for coming!

  2. Geek Ken says:

    Looks like all had a wonderful time. I think it’s fantastic you managed to run an event like this. Getting people exposed to PnP RPGs is a great way to keep the hobby alive.

  3. Peej says:

    Dang! If I had been more powerful with my Google kung-fu, I would’ve known of this event and would’ve been able to participate. Me and my pal have been dying to get back to some PnP RPGs. Please, PLEASE plan a next event! Dice as freebies = GENIUS!!! 🙂

    • Facebook and Geekster word of mouth was our only marketing tool, so our apologies.

      That said, I think you’ll be glad to hear that we’ve decided to hold the next event sooner rather than later, so YES! I’m also interested in diversifying the kind of events we’ll have to promote RPGs, so don’t worry! This isn’t a one-time shindig!

      • Peej says:

        Yes!!! Finally, getting back to PnP!

        Speaking of the FB, could I get the FB add so that I can stay posted?

        The pictures of the event were awesome, so good job! Hope you hold the event real soon! The Shadowrun RPG seemed interesting, though I haven’t really been into much, just a few staples like D&D, V:tM and Silver Age Sentinels. Trying new things would be exciting.


      • Simply search for “My Girlfriend is a DM” on Facebook. I guess we should be hip like all the other blogs and start adding that “Add to Facebook” functionality, complete with Twitter, Digg or whateva.

        We only have one Shadowrun GM among our ‘affiliates,’ so we can’t really guarantee that we’ll be able to play that, but rest assured, we endeavor to represent as much as we can in RPGs in both blog content and future events. We love other games, but DnD 4e is what the writing team (Girlfriend DM and I) know best.

  4. Peej says:

    Dang, the internet swallowed my comment!

    Anyway, please, PLEASE hold another event! My pal and I missed this one. Thanks!!!

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