Have Dice, Will Travel: Sofia

Have Dice, Will Travel: Sofia

Keith travels to Sofia and learns of a time when roleplayers were rare and dice were rarer.

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Cool article thanks for it, oddly i get the same feeling anymore today in general being older, people with families, kids, lives, all "grown" up etc, after college lugging around a bunch of AD&D and shadowrun books just seemed dead weight, since if you mentioned it to most people they would look at your funny and the younger ones were all about magic the gathering.

But cool to see things from over there, and what they went through to try and play.

At first I though I had read it wrong - Sofia? My Sofia? Well, apparently my eyes did not lie, you did come to Bulgaria :)
I'm from another city, but I study there now and I have been amazed at the geek levels here. In my city there is no RPG community, maybe a few friends here and there trying to play. I tried D&D with a couple of friends, but the DM wasn't serious about it and kept slacking off so that died off. About the necessary materials - we downloaded the D&D books from the internet ( guess if it was legal ), we printed out character sheets and we used a dice program ( so we had to play indoors ).
I tried Endyval ( I think it had a second edition, we used that ) too, but we were too lame for all the rules, so we played on "easy". It was quite fun, but half the other players didn't enjoy it as much it would seem, so we never played again :[.
And here in Sofia, there is just such diversity. I went to a book festival last year, and there was a whole stand with RPGs - Magic, Pokemon, The Witcher (obvious cash-in) and all sorts of board games. I've heard stories of people gathering to play these games, but it remains a mystery to this day. Well, to be fair, I haven't exactly been searching for RPG players, but after reading your article maybe I should look this up...
I'm looking forward to your future articles :]

I have never played D&D because there is noone in my neighbourhood who was busy with it, but I still love reading these articles. For people who have never played D&D, you can still create a very fun story to read, and I look forward to your next article :D

Kavachi:
I have never played D&D because there is noone in my neighbourhood who was busy with it, but I still love reading these articles. For people who have never played D&D, you can still create a very fun story to read, and I look forward to your next article :D

I have the same thing, it's nice that even though I can't actually play it, I still get my monthly amount of D&D

Keith Baker:
Have Dice, Will Travel: Sofia

Keith travels to Sofia and learns of a time when roleplayers were rare and dice were rarer.

Read Full Article

Dear Mr. Baker,

I've been a fantasy fan, speaking in a most general sense, for a while, starting way back uh..10 years ago or so..I'm currently mostly playing Magic: the Gathering with other people's said d20s and d6s. While I've only participated in a D&D session once, I'd love to get involved with a regular group, assuming I manage to find the time for it. I live in Sofia at the time. Did any of your hosts perhaps mention ways for fellow young men (and women) to find D&D groups?

Wow man every time I read your articles I am amazed at how awesome your life and job is. I look forward to these articles more and more, please keep them coming!

Sofia? Sofia!!!

The town I live in, the town I teach in. Coincidentally, I happen to come from the very same town that Rorschach_pln hails from - Pleven.

Small world, indeed.

To be honest, I never did play D&D...but I grew up reading the game-books mentioned in the article. Some of them were heavy on the literary side and now that I no longer look at them through teenager's eyes, I still think some of them are quality literature. The rising popularity of computer games in Bulgaria, as well as the difficult financial situation of the country, saw to the demise of the beloved genre of book-games, which a whole generation grew up with.

A correction is in order, I believe. The dice sculpture mentioned in the article is actually the symbol of the Earth and Man National Museum - not a corporate logo.

Cheers, Escapists!

Kavachi:
I have never played D&D because there is noone in my neighbourhood who was busy with it, but I still love reading these articles. For people who have never played D&D, you can still create a very fun story to read, and I look forward to your next article :D

I love playing Dnd, but must have only played 7 games in my whole life! Really things like 'ADnD' and 'Furry' most everywhere I go :3. So I'm pretty much in the same boat as you! I've really considered finding people to play with online over webcams, of course I can't see that going over very well either! XD

Rorschach_pln, Vesamne you at least have an excuse. I knew Keith was coming prior to his visit and I still couldn't go meet him. Couldn't free up my schedule when he was in town.

That was a bit of a suprise. I am afraid I have been outside of the roleplay enviroment in Sofia for long time.
Just out of curiosity which edition of Endyval did he give to you?

standokan:

Kavachi:
I have never played D&D because there is noone in my neighbourhood who was busy with it, but I still love reading these articles. For people who have never played D&D, you can still create a very fun story to read, and I look forward to your next article :D

I have the same thing, it's nice that even though I can't actually play it, I still get my monthly amount of D&D

I never played it before. But its not because a lack of roleplayers in this part of Germany. From the 80's on we got our own poison here.

D&D is somehow popular too. But the majority of gamers i know at least started with DSA and i still prefer it. I bought the new redbox of d&d though, because i liked the idea of a new simplier restart of D&D. I will try it soon.

Great article. I now feel a little petty for complaining in the beginning of the 80's about the difficulty of finding dice in the USA. It never really occurred to me just how much more challenging getting materials would be in other countries. What the gamers in Sofia did to play, now that's dedication to the game!

A tip of the cap from an old school grognard. Gamers like that will keep the hobby alive for a good long time.

You know what's interesting? I grew up in Puerto Rico, scant 2 hours from the continental USA, and the early days of RPGs in my island mirror somewhat those of Bulgaria. Photocopied manuals, traded dice, rare minis brought by relatives vising the States. Yeah, good times.

Galad:
I live in Sofia at the time. Did any of your hosts perhaps mention ways for fellow young men (and women) to find D&D groups?

I just checked, and they suggested that you go to forums.rpgbg.net. I'm told that this is the forum of the first Bulgarian RPG community and should be a good place to find people.

twilightling:
Just out of curiosity which edition of Endyval did he give to you?

I'm not sure. The publication date is 2001.

Highmoon:
You know what's interesting? I grew up in Puerto Rico, scant 2 hours from the continental USA, and the early days of RPGs in my island mirror somewhat those of Bulgaria. Photocopied manuals, traded dice, rare minis brought by relatives vising the States. Yeah, good times.

I didn't realize that you grew up outside the States! When did you start playing?

cerebus23:
Cool article thanks for it, oddly i get the same feeling anymore today in general being older, people with families, kids, lives, all "grown" up etc, after college lugging around a bunch of AD&D and shadowrun books just seemed dead weight, since if you mentioned it to most people they would look at your funny and the younger ones were all about magic the gathering.

But cool to see things from over there, and what they went through to try and play.

I was never into DND though I've read every version that's been released since I was 12. The same goes for most Paper RPG's these days.
I've gotten hooked on an independent one though, havokrpg. it's pretty amazing. I agree a lot with the "hated lugging things around" mentality.

I didn't expect the story about Sofia to come out so quickly. A great read, and the idea for the column is fantastic. What I hadn't thought about when I read your previous installments is how a story like this could be illuminating not just for the people living outside the countries you visit, but inside as well. That certainly was the case with this one.

Pozdravi za iniciativata, hora! Drujte mechtata jiva!

Keith Baker:

Galad:
I live in Sofia at the time. Did any of your hosts perhaps mention ways for fellow young men (and women) to find D&D groups?

I just checked, and they suggested that you go to forums.rpgbg.net. I'm told that this is the forum of the first Bulgarian RPG community and should be a good place to find people.

See, one would think that's true, and theoretically it is. In reality, I wouldn't really recommend going there if you want to actually find people to play with. The place is kind of...well, you'll see if you read it.

Dear Mr. Baker,
I'm living in Sofia, and I play since the earliest times that you describe, or nearly so. While it was a nice surprise, I was rather surprised to read your article. I mean, the feeling was that your hosts and me are living in different countries, not the same city!
I guess they just presented you only their version of the story. That's fine, but makes for some surprising "is this the same Sofia" moments.
Just for the fun of it, let me point out some inconsistencies.

What really gave me pause is the statement that people in Bulgaria would rather deal with UFOs than with D&D! There's no more of a problem here than in USA, I guess. It's even less of a problem, because while the games are less known, there isn't a prejudice against them, either. Jack Chick and BADD were unknown here, I learned about them on English-language forums.
Personally, I print his comics for fun and give them to newbies after their first or second session, or whenever I'm in the mood for it. It always makes them laugh. There is also less of an idea that "D&D is only for geeks". When younger, I tend to mock mercilessly anyone who mentioned it.
How easy is it to get new players to try the hobby?
I've recently started a group consisting only of new players. They are not the only ones that I know have joined this year only. (As far as I know, none of them has any interest in UFOs whatsoever). I know personally another 5 or so who were recruited last year. If anything, there is a shortage of DMs that can run games! It's harder to get people to fill that role. For all I know, it's harder to find game masters than players in the USA, too.
Between this, and another all-newbie group that I know is starting to play soon, you should now understand why I can't relate to the statement.
Now, I can't say the hobby is thriving and becoming a fad, this would be a lie. But as far as finding people to play with, I have never had a problem.

I remember when we played systems with 6-sided dice because multi-sided ones weren't available...
Wait - I don't, because such a thing has never happened! Yes, there was a shortage of dice, and ordering and delivery was a problem. So far, it's true...
Except we never had a problem with this, because it is a little-known fact that you can, in fact, use some rather simple solutions allowing us to roll dice with 20, 12, 10, 8 or 4 sides! It's achieved by rolling up to 3 six-sided dice of different colours at once, but the chance of rolling 1, 10 or 20 is the same, just as with a regular 20-sided die. That's what you get when playing with a mathematician ;) .
I remember running my first D&D campaign this way. It tanked, but not because of the dice, but because it was my first time being a GM. There wasn't a single die at the table short of d6s, and it wasn't a problem.
Trading dice is something that we have never tried, although we knew that other people are doing it. But to us, they were after the oddly-shaped dice because they liked them, not because they needed them! Well, we like them, too.
(The first time dice became a problem was when we wanted to play a dicepool system. Now, rolling double the number of dice seemed like too much of a hassle. That was years later, though, and it only took a while until we made a mass order for multi-sided dice).

Now, the Bulgarian systems use d6, yes, because they are more easily available. But what we play has never depended on the dice alone. The reason I went to play Axiom was that I knew some people, including the author of the system, who were friendly and positive, and that's what they played.
Also, the full system Axiom was recently released as a free download, with the permission of the author. As far as I know, the PDF incorporated the latest changes in the system. The author is working in the game industry, but he's now in another sector.

All this said - and I'm afraid I got carried away, but I'm still chuckling about the dice - I really liked the article, Mr. Baker! What I wrote isn't a criticism - I'm pretty sure you were faithful to the information you received. I just wanted to point out that some people may have rather different memories from those early years.
Actually, this is not surprising at all. We all had different experiences. And although Damyan introduced me to the hobby, it was other people that persuaded me to stay and try another game, so we haven't played a lot together. I suspect other people would remember it in yet another way.

To finish on a lighter note, I'd like to point out that I really hope you would use some of the Bulgarian customs when writing about some nations of Eberron, or any other setting 8) ! Eberron is a very cool setting, in my opinion, although I've never got to play an Eberron game. There are so many cool games, and so little time...

Edited to add: I just read the other articles from the series. Can't wait to read the next one :D !

Keith Baker:

Galad:
I live in Sofia at the time. Did any of your hosts perhaps mention ways for fellow young men (and women) to find D&D groups?

I just checked, and they suggested that you go to forums.rpgbg.net. I'm told that this is the forum of the first Bulgarian RPG community and should be a good place to find people.

I can confirm it's a good place to find people, or any help on starting a game you might need.

Galad:

Dear Mr. Baker,

I've been a fantasy fan, speaking in a most general sense, for a while, starting way back uh..10 years ago or so..I'm currently mostly playing Magic: the Gathering with other people's said d20s and d6s. While I've only participated in a D&D session once, I'd love to get involved with a regular group, assuming I manage to find the time for it. I live in Sofia at the time. Did any of your hosts perhaps mention ways for fellow young men (and women) to find D&D groups?

A simple solution would be to PM me. If I can't get you into one of my groups, I'm at least going to point you to someone else I know. Since I'm starting a group where everybody else is new to the hobby, you might be more comfortable playing.
Or you could go to forums.rpgbg.net as Mr. Baker pointed you and try there ;) . Actually, I learned about this article there.
Of course, this offer is open to anyone from Sofia! I can't guarantee I'm going to play with you - it depends on whether we like each other's company enough to spend a few hours a week together - but if you need advice on getting a game, I would do my best to help you! And I'm pretty sure everyone on the forum Mr. Baker pointed would love to help you, too!

Royas:
Great article. I now feel a little petty for complaining in the beginning of the 80's about the difficulty of finding dice in the USA. It never really occurred to me just how much more challenging getting materials would be in other countries. What the gamers in Sofia did to play, now that's dedication to the game!

A tip of the cap from an old school grognard. Gamers like that will keep the hobby alive for a good long time.

Thank you, but as you can see in my answer, it wasn't all that hard :) . Actually it was fun. After all, we are all playing because it's fun, right?

Jenx:

Keith Baker:

Galad:
I live in Sofia at the time. Did any of your hosts perhaps mention ways for fellow young men (and women) to find D&D groups?

I just checked, and they suggested that you go to forums.rpgbg.net. I'm told that this is the forum of the first Bulgarian RPG community and should be a good place to find people.

See, one would think that's true, and theoretically it is. In reality, I wouldn't really recommend going there if you want to actually find people to play with. The place is kind of...well, you'll see if you read it.

Some people like it, others, not so much. I guess it's like most forums.
And there are other options, too ;) .

Rorschach_pln:
At first I though I had read it wrong - Sofia? My Sofia? Well, apparently my eyes did not lie, you did come to Bulgaria :)
I'm from another city, but I study there now and I have been amazed at the geek levels here. In my city there is no RPG community, maybe a few friends here and there trying to play. I tried D&D with a couple of friends, but the DM wasn't serious about it and kept slacking off so that died off. About the necessary materials - we downloaded the D&D books from the internet ( guess if it was legal ), we printed out character sheets and we used a dice program ( so we had to play indoors ).
I tried Endyval ( I think it had a second edition, we used that ) too, but we were too lame for all the rules, so we played on "easy". It was quite fun, but half the other players didn't enjoy it as much it would seem, so we never played again :[.
And here in Sofia, there is just such diversity. I went to a book festival last year, and there was a whole stand with RPGs - Magic, Pokemon, The Witcher (obvious cash-in) and all sorts of board games. I've heard stories of people gathering to play these games, but it remains a mystery to this day. Well, to be fair, I haven't exactly been searching for RPG players, but after reading your article maybe I should look this up...
I'm looking forward to your future articles :]

Ever seen anyone playing a Half-Life RPG over there? It would be fitting, Sofia being the closest analogue to City 17 and all.

maturin:

Rorschach_pln:
At first I though I had read it wrong - Sofia? My Sofia? Well, apparently my eyes did not lie, you did come to Bulgaria :)
I'm from another city, but I study there now and I have been amazed at the geek levels here. In my city there is no RPG community, maybe a few friends here and there trying to play. I tried D&D with a couple of friends, but the DM wasn't serious about it and kept slacking off so that died off. About the necessary materials - we downloaded the D&D books from the internet ( guess if it was legal ), we printed out character sheets and we used a dice program ( so we had to play indoors ).
I tried Endyval ( I think it had a second edition, we used that ) too, but we were too lame for all the rules, so we played on "easy". It was quite fun, but half the other players didn't enjoy it as much it would seem, so we never played again :[.
And here in Sofia, there is just such diversity. I went to a book festival last year, and there was a whole stand with RPGs - Magic, Pokemon, The Witcher (obvious cash-in) and all sorts of board games. I've heard stories of people gathering to play these games, but it remains a mystery to this day. Well, to be fair, I haven't exactly been searching for RPG players, but after reading your article maybe I should look this up...
I'm looking forward to your future articles :]

Ever seen anyone playing a Half-Life RPG over there? It would be fitting, Sofia being the closest analogue to City 17 and all.

I've played it, but that was a one-shot ;) !

Asen_G:
I guess they just presented you only their version of the story. That's fine, but makes for some surprising "is this the same Sofia" moments.
Just for the fun of it, let me point out some inconsistencies.

It is the danger of the thing. I'm not only visiting a single city, I'm playing with a specific group - so my experience is obviously limited. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Keith Baker:

Asen_G:
I guess they just presented you only their version of the story. That's fine, but makes for some surprising "is this the same Sofia" moments.
Just for the fun of it, let me point out some inconsistencies.

It is the danger of the thing. I'm not only visiting a single city, I'm playing with a specific group - so my experience is obviously limited. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

I know and, if it wasn't absolutely clear, let me repeat I don't think it was your fault! I just decided it's worth telling my version of the events, from the perspectives of other groups I've played with.
Hope it didn't sound antagonistic, and looking forward for the next article of this series!

To be fair, the group you met with had a lot more of an interesting story about roleplaying games that some of us. Me, it was - Play computer RPGs. Get intersted in tabletop. Go to rpg.bg. Find local group. Play for a few years then stop due to everyone being too busy with life. Not...exactly a thrill to read I imagine.

To maturin - well no, but I'm not into LARPs. I've seen a forum though, and they apparently play STALKER, western, medieval and all sorts of LARPs. Maybe this year I'll try STALKER, looks pretty cool.

 

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