Back into the table top RPG hobby
When I started getting back into role playing games (RPGs), about 5 years ago, it was because some old college friends were talking about how they always had heard of Dungeons and Dragons when they were young, but had never played. "Interesting!", I thought, and before I knew what I was doing, I was giving them an offer to run them through a game. Of course I hadn't played in over 15 years, so actually delivering on that would take over a year of research, not to mention the day-to-day distractions of work, and new fatherhood.
Happy Jacks RPG podcast
A big part of that year-long journey was the discovery of the Happy Jacks RPG podcast (also found on iTunes here). It's a podcast created by Stu Venable, when he started getting back into gaming. The content is very game master (GM) centric, so it was exactly what I was looking for when getting back in the hobby.
They have 20 episodes per season, and I think they were just starting season 3 at the time I started listening. Now, some 5 years later, they are on season 15 (which is over 250 episodes, which can each be up to 3 hours in length). Along the way I've become somewhat of a fanboy.
It was one of the first RPG podcasts I tried to listen to, and one of the few I could bare. (Honorable mention goes to Fear the Boot, a distant second.) Many have compared the vibe to hanging out with friends, and shooting the shit about games, beer, and other random, related topics. I relate to that completely.
There are now more than a few consistent hosts, however Stork is longest running since he was there on the very first episode (and almost all of them since then). But there are other consistent folks, such as Kimi, JiB (who also regularly appears on the Savage Worlds Game Master Hangout), Gina, and more. Special guests occasionally grace the 'cast, including The Angry GM, and the LARP ladies (Aya, Twin and Mowi), which mixes up the fun.
Somewhere along the way I joined the Happy Jacks RPG forums (participating regularly as user "tomes"), and joining their dedicated chatroom during their live podcasts (which occurs almost weekly). It's about the only forum of any type I regularly visit, except for probably a few at work. Even the work forums get replaced every few years, so I think Happy Jacks is probably the most consist forum I use.
The quantity of douchebags is high, but only in the best way possible. There's been very little in the way of flame wars, and it's mostly just a great GM sounding board.
And so somewhere along the way, my friend Howie (one of my oldest friends, and also my main gamer buddy) joined me in exploring the world of game conventions. Living in L.A. we checked out Strategicon, at the behest of the Happy Jacks podcast. After all, they live in various parts of the greater L.A. area, and talked about the con frequently. And so we went, Howie and I, in August of 2012, to Strategicon Gateway.
And what do you know, I actually got to play with these cats. But even more importantly, without them as an inspiration I don't know if I would've adventured as far as I have now, playing in so many other games, in so many other systems, and with so many other people. And only a little later, I would run my own games at Strategicon, and then elsewhere.
The truth is, the game I ran for that first group of college friends petered out after a short bit, with us running 3 sessions over the course of 1.5 years (yes, really). However, they can now all say that they have played D&D! And occasionally they do ask when we'll be playing again.
Separate from that, however, I have now run two additional campaigns, one in Savage Worlds, and one in Dungeon World, with the latter spanning over a dozen sessions. I've never run or played in anything that long in all my life, even in my gaming youth, so it's been pleasant getting back into this thing.
All this rambling is just my way of saying, "Thank you, Happy Jackers". Thanks for putting me back on this excellent road. And given that the Happy Jacks RPG episode 000 was recorded six years ago today, Happy Birthday to Stu and crew!
And if you see me at a game convention or otherwise, just remember: Please stop talking to my experience points. But do say 'hi'.