The Torn Cover
A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street. The crunch of the snow under his boots had this very comforting sound that brought him back to his childhood as he comes to the greatest book store in the world. Charlie stood outside the Torn Cover and just thought about all those trips he has taken to this place in the last sixteen years of his life. he remembers being twenty-five the first time he ever walked into this Gothic building in Lower Downtown of Denver, Colorado when it was just off the Sixteenth Street Mall. Charlie can’t help but to reminisce over the past every time he comes here just to remember those days when he was homeless and broke but somehow he always had money to buy a book to read here.
As Charlie opens the double doors and walks in the creaking of the hardwood stairs and the smell of new and old books hits him like a right hook to the jaw. Those smells are more like a comfort food to him then anything else in the world in his opinion. Charlie takes a soft right and walks past some of the magazines to the espresso bar to get what he feels is the best espresso in all of downtown. Taking off his headphones that were filled with National Public Radio jazz he gets in like in total anticipation of the nectar that they serve here. When he gets to the counter he orders a quad shot Americano with room for cream like he always does in the winter time. In the summer he goes for the same but just the shots poured over ice.
After he gets his drink he adds a little sweeter and some cream and off he goes to explore this amazing building. The creaking of the floors is more like a drug to him after all these years of coming here taking him to a new place and time in his mind. There is an angled flight of stairs that he walks up to get to the fiction section of the store always mindful of the bargain books and the used books before he buys new. Some people like the big chain stores but not Charlie he prefers to pay a little more to keep a great local business thriving in such a bad economy.
Charlie starts to look at some books and plucks a book by Jack Kerouac off the shelf that he has never read and with that he walks back downstairs to the Literary Journal section in the huge magazine rack section. Charlie always liked Lit Mags because they contain essays, short fiction and poetry by mostly unknown writers that just blow his mind all the time. Charlie wants to write for one someday but he just does not have what it takes to be published yet but yes someday he will be good enough if he never quits. Charlie looks at every single one on the rack and finally selects one with five essays, six short stories and about twenty poems.
Charlie feels this sense of adventure like he always does when he buys something new to read as he walks back to the espresso bar for a refill and to pay for his books. After Charlie gets his refill he walks over to a nice plush chair by the stairs and digs into his new books. First he reads a few essays then he goes right to the Kerouac book with a veracious appetite more like a starved man then someone reading a book. As the hours pass he does not notice the sun go down or that the store is about to close until someone tells him. He marks his spot in the book and puts his coat back on as he gets up. Walking back down the stairs and out the door into the still falling snow he just smiles knowing that life just can’t get any better then this.
Somewhere in the middle is the truth as they say whomever they actually is I have no idea but in the world of AD&D there is no middle ever. I am again back to playing the role of the DM (Dungeon Master) in a game that I am running over Skype with some old friends, some new friends and soon my own mother. Yesterday my mother and one of my friends said to me on Skype that they would rather be players then do what I do and my response as canned as it was simply stated that when I am a player I am not as engaged as a DM I am totally engaged. I think this is why I like to DM more then anything.
I was in a group last year as a player and honestly I found it to be a little boring due to all the lag time before I was able to actually do something. There is also something special about being able to create an entire world for others to exist in that always made me smile. Maybe part of all of this stems from the fact that as the DM I can be a total control freak as well. It defiantly takes a certain personality to want to DM in the first place being it is such hard work all of the time with the risk of being caught with ones pants down all the time. There is just no possible way to be prepared for every last little thing that the players may or may not do and as an example I had a song lyric set up which I did not think the players could read but alas one had a spell that made it readable.
I had picked 2 Minutes to Midnight by Iron Maiden as a key plot thread but the whole point was to get them moving around the map to find someone to translate it but that wound up being a moot point when my resident mage cast Comprehend Languages on it. I am however grateful that she did not cast that in the catacombs or I would have been very fucked with no idea what to do at that point. This example is just one of the many perils and pitfalls that I as the DM can fall into every time we play. I think this is why most people just prefer to play the game as characters and not as the Master of the game.
One of the hardest things to do as the DM is to anticipate the players actions and be ready for whatever they do and that in all reality is totally impossible. There are a few styles of DMing the game one which is to have it all set up that this or that will happen and that is that or a very linear way to progress the game. My style is more of a lets see what happens approach where I may have one encounter set up but the rest I have no idea its gonna happen until it happens using the dice to make my decisions. My style is very reckless but it is also very dynamic as well leaving things open from start to finish. In other words I have a way higher chance to be caught with my pants down every session but that is what makes it fun for me and the game has to be fun for me as well or I won’t want to play it either.
If I have no idea what is going to happen until it happens I am just as surprised as the players are when something occurs. That is the reward of this game since there are no real triggers in the game unlike a video game where if this then that is the rule of thumb. In my games it’s more like if this then who the fuck knows what that is gonna be. This makes my world act more like a real world since nothing that happens in real life is scripted so in turn nor is anything in my created world. I am aware that for a non-player this is all very confusing but trust me it is for the best to play this way being I have played with the other style and found it to be very dross and vapid in the end.
One of the real tricks is to breathe life into the world I created and the people that inhabit it and that at times can be very taxing but the end result is always worth it. I have found the linear DM’s to have a world that is flat and lifeless and as a result I opt for the “shoot from the hip” DM style so it is never boring or cliché like some other worlds I played in. If one does not believe the world they are in why would they want to explore it is my theory. I even have to believe the world that I created or I won’t want to play in it either and that is a fact in an actual role playing game. This also lends to my need to be a creative writer with all the characters I create that they encounter and describing the environment that they are in at the time. At the same time I have removed a lot of the tedium of the game to make it move faster and a nice pace whereas some DM’s insist on having materials for spells I just assume you have them. There really isn’t anything more boring then having to search a town for spell materials so I eliminated that part of the game with a simple 25 gold piece tax per week that everyone pays. I need to institute that tax next session actually and if the players are like what the fuck I will explain it to them again. I will blog more about the game as it develops so no worries there but for now I need to make sure I am ready for tomorrow might so peace out and dragons in!