Monday, April 17, 2006

rpg's in the library and an rpg library

I took at a chance at a small military library, and spent a few hundred dollars on "gaming" materials. I had seen evidence that we had a strong contingent of gamers on base, and I suddenly had some unexpected funds "fall out" of the squadron and into my lap.

I think I ordered the standard White Wolf core rule books, the basic Dungeon's and Dragons (the newest incarnation -- 3rd Edition?), the Star Wars roleplaying stuff, and several GURPs supplements. I figured that would be enough to satisfy the tastes of most, and give them, through the GURPs material, the tools to modify any of the games they liked. I'll have to describe the base environment some other time (military librarians can do a lot to help our servicemen and servicewomen, but often they don't get the support they need [read: the servicemen and servicewomen often don't get the support they need] from the highups in the hierarchy. There's lots of reasons for that, and it warrants a future post.).

Anyway. I hoped these materials would circulate -- but what a surprise it was when we couldn't keep the books on the shelf! My hope was that our "gaming night" programs would continue after I left (the program was for any games from Scrabble and Monopoly to Yu Gi Oh! and Mage: The Ascension) and little social gaming communities would evolve and sustain themselves.

Now a different but related topic.

I last "gamed", as in played a table-top RPG, in 1997 or so. But for a while in the 90s, I really enjoyed it. Some of my friends created their own worlds, own rules, and their own RPG games. Reams of unpublished game notes (from test-games, sketches of characters, notes on the history of an imagined land or a secret society, and all kinds of related background information) sat in dusty corners of their apartments... Probaby all this stuff was eventually thrown out.

I thought: wouldn't it be great if there were some kind of library for these materials? I mean a library of this mostly unpublished worldbuilding. And it would be archived online. Gamers could scan in documents or upload files into an archive that would be freely available for others to see and use, learn from, write about, develop further.

But I'm not a gamer anymore and don't have enough energy or sustained interest to create such a thing. Does anyone know if there's anything like this already out there?

It occurs to me that gamers could use wikis for this -- but then we'd need to somehow link them all, so that we could search across all game databases. It would be a shame to lose these games forever just because it's not commercially published by one of these bigtime houses like Wizards of the Coast. There's just too much great material out there for it to be lost for all time -- too many richly imagined worlds and characters.


Listening: Jimmy Wales at the Long Now Foundation

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