A roleplaying active and a rising name in the finnish scene, Sami Koponen, encouraged a handfull of finnish roleplayers and scene-actives, me included, to write about our roleplaying history.
Because of Other Things(tm) in my life keeping me occupied, I’m writing this quite a bit later than the others, but nonetheless I present you what has happened to me along the Way thus far.
It all began some time around 5th or 6th grade. Me and couple of my friends (I’ll call ‘em M and R) heard that one guy (I’ll call him T) on our grade was doing something called roleplaying with his big brother & his friends. Well, we were curious and as we were already familiar with the concept of “controlling a character you make up” thanks to normal children’s play, we decided to give it a try. At that point all we knew was that roleplaying involves the use of dice and that every character is given some sort of numerical values to tell how strong they are. Oh and we also knew that one of the players needs to be a gamemaster who tells the players what happens around them. And then we encaged in something that could be described as collaborative storytelling. Much like most of out plays of that time. Yeah, in hindsight I could say the we were proto-roleplaying already before that. That just was the first counscious effort at it.
And that’s actually quite essential concidering the question of why I became a roleplayer. You see, I’ve never been a what you could call a fantasy literature enthusiast. The first fantasy novel I ever read was The Lord of the Rings and I didn’t read that until in senior high school. So during that time, in the lower level of comprehensive school, I mostly read just The Famous Five and Nancy Drew (it’s okay to laugh now). And comics, of course. But still, for some reason, I had the interest towards fantasy stories. Maybe it was some movie I had seen or some comics I had read, but it was there. Also those plays we had had imbued me with a drive to create stories.
Now that’s what I’d call a proper breeding ground.
The real deal
So we did our version of roleplaying for some time, until T asked if we wanted to try Real Roleplaying(tm). And boy did we! That’s how I got into RuneQuest, the first real rpg I ever played. (Do you see a pattern here? First no fantasy novels, then not even D&D. What the hell? I was surely off to a good start.) So, it was truly amusing. First of all were these strangely strangely shaped dice! And a character sheet with lots and lots of text! Good thing I didn’t feel too overwhelmed. I still have memories that I think are from my first RQ-adventure. We wandered in an underground evil cultist temple of some sort. My character encountered his end prematurely when I had to choose between laundryshaft and wasteshaft when trying to hide from the cultists. Well, M and R encouraged me to choose the wasteshaft and so I did. We found out that the cultists disposed of their waste with a tunnel to a pool of lava. Still, I wasn’t traumatized by that (in your face, Tyranny of Fun!) and I kept on playing.
During the following years we had lots of fun although R grew apart from us during the junior high (7th through 9th grade in here). So for many years it was just me, T and M, T acting as the gamemaster. We didn’t play in Glorantha for T found it more fun (I think) to create settings of his own “on the fly.” At some point we started a little experimental campaign on the side. It was corporation agents in a cyberpunk near-future Russia. It went on for several years. And what system did we use? Why, RuneQuest, of course. It was basically the only one we knew of, and we were familiar with it.
It was all well and good. Then in senior high I started to make my first own game! Well, that project is still on the table (mostly in the drawer) and have been through quite a lot changes during it’s eight or so years. Damn, it’s already been that long. Other changes also happened during that time. First T’s big brother introduced to T some new finnish (and I hadn’t been even aware that such things exist!) game called Praedor. We didn’t get to play it right away, as the book still belonged to T’s brother who lived in another town. But when he came to home during the summer, we got to try it out. And boy, was that a strange experience at first. Years after years nothing but RQ. It definitely took some time to get used to it, but in the end it stuck.
During senior high was also the time when I tested my wings as a gamemaster, and well… it wasn’t that good. It could’ve been worse, I’m sure of that. But it was still quite terrible. No matter what, it was a step I had to take. And I’m happy I did. Also, during 2000 or 2001, we had an occasional member joining our group. Didn’t manage to get much done with him as he was almost all the time busy with other things, but new blood nonetheless.
And then came 2002. M went to carry out his compulsory military service in January. Me and T tried to game once or twice, but it just didn’t really happen. Then when M returned it was T’s turn. Me and M tried to game, too, but to no avail. January 2003, and it was my turn. T was still on sercive as a non-commissioned officer. When me and T finally got out in the summer, there was not much time, as T was going to college in another town. I spent the year wondering what to do with my life, until came summer of 2004. I applied for Degree Programme in Software Engineering in Jyväskylä Polytechnic (nowdays Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences), went to Ropecon the first time and finally moved here.
I found a new gaming group (if you’re reading this, guys, you’re awesome <3) which has now quite effectively disbanded as 40% of us have moved to another town. I also found other players and started gamemastering again, encouraged by who knows what.
Since that fall of 2004 I've played more or less regularly with 22 other local roleplayers, 4 of whom have also/entirely been gamemasters and I can soon add two more people to that count.
I have found countless new games to like, exposed myself to rpg theory, gotten myself into the finnish rpg scene, I’ve been an administrator of the roleplaying site Kiukkuisen Oravan majatalo (The tavern of Angry Squirrel) for four years, and the other owner of it for three years. I’ve read a lot and learned a lot, about roleplaying in general and rpg design in particular. These past five years have actually been quite awesome. I’ve also learned about myself and my preferences, which has in the same time made things clearer and easier, but also a bit trickier.
These have been pretty good 15 years, roleplaying-wise, and I definitely could’ve spent my time with poorer hobbies. Now I’m positively excited and curious what the next 15 years will give.
Sami’s own history in finnish: Kehä laajenee: Henkilökohtainen roolipelihistoriani
Other brothers to answer the call:
NiTessine: My Gaming History
Thanuir: My rpg history
Eero Tuovinen, in his usual Eeroish style writing so much he had to divide it into five separate parts: My Roleplaying History #1, #2, #3, #4, #5
Merten: My roleplaying history
Gastogh: How I got into fantasy and RPGs
Navdi: My gaming history, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.
Sope: Roolipelihistoriani osa 1, osa 2, osa 3, osa 4, osa 5.
Currently playing: The Birthday Massacre – Looking Glass