Have Dice Will Travel

Have Dice Will Travel
Have Dice, Will Travel: Boise

Keith Baker | 31 Jan 2011 13:00
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There are many stereotypes attributed to role players, but the truth is that we come from all walks of life. We're students and soldiers, programmers and prison guards, teachers and porn stars. I've resolved to travel across the world and play with as many different groups as I can - to find out what draws people to gaming, to see what we have in common and what's different. I stay for three days wherever I go. One day I run a game for my hosts. Another day I ask them to entertain me, showing me the things they love or find inspiring. The third day is open. If you're interested in being a part of it, contact me at onesmallkeith@gmail.com.

You've just put away your dice for the night. It's late, but you and your friends are in the mood to relax and talk about the game. Someone suggests that you go to the Home of the Scones, and why not? A hot buttered scone is just the thing for a midnight snack.

Wait, what?

If you're used to the scones of Scotland, this may seem like a strange idea. When I hear the word "scone," I think of a small, hard pastry that could be used as a deadly weapon; not exactly the stuff that late-night snacks are made of. But we're not in Scotland tonight. This is Boise, Idaho. Forget the potatoes and get your scone on.

My host Kevin is an IT/Web Developer for an Idaho PBS affiliate. His house shows a blended love of fantasy and science fiction. Novels compete for shelf space with a wide range of roleplaying sourcebooks, and a colossal red dragon stands next to an Imperial Walker from Star Wars. Cats named after Sith Lords and Firefly characters watch impassively as the gamers gather for the night.

Kevin's friends are in their thirties and forties, and most of them have been gaming together for over ten years. Kevin met one of the other players - another Kevin - while both of them were working at Albertsons; a decade later, Kevin the first is keeping PBS on the air in Idaho, and Kevin the second is a Senior Systems Engineer. The two Kevins played Rifts together long ago, then pulled in Richard and Dave to start a Second Edition Dungeons & Dragons game. Ben joined the group with the advent of third edition D&D and has been a part of it ever since. Other players have come and gone over the years; when I arrived, the most recent addition was Kevin's girlfriend, Tanya. But the original players were still there, over ten years later.

While Tanya was a newcomer when she joined the group, most of the players were gamers before they were friends. A young Ben loved reading the Monster Manual long before he ran his first game - something I remember from my own childhood. The first Kevin started in fifth grade, running adventures inspired by the movie Krull. The second Kevin was drawn into roleplaying when the tenant in the apartment above him invited him to play so that the sound of the game wouldn't be an issue. "They were a loud group," he says. "I was hooked from that point on."

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