The Story Is A Thing That Happens On The Bus Ride Home.

(I’m in a maudlin mood)

While rummaging through some old things in my cave, I came across some old artwork based on an AD&D game my friend Sam ran. This was back in the mid to late 80s, and I was firing on all pistons with art. My friend Sam ran a campaign with so many twists, turns, ups, and downs that it was like a fever dream. During the game, I would draw everyone’s character. I would take suggestions, but mostly I drew them as I saw them in my head and how they portrayed their characters in the game.

The Comic I drew was called “The Dungeoneers”. Original, I know, but I was in my teens and didn’t think too hard about the presentation. I drew stories based on what happened during the adventures, truncated, and abbreviated to make sense of it.

What occurred to me today as I went through the pages is that the plot and story didn’t gel into a coherent story until after we played. What I mean is that once the game was done for that week, we would let it marinate in our collective heads, and then the next week, we would talk about what happened once we edited, collated the facts, and then synthesized a memory based on our hive mind recollection. The story we created happened after play and not during it. At the time, we were deep in the mix and simply enjoying what happened next. Only afterward did we realize what had occurred.

Sam and I built adventures in the same way. As the GM, Sam wrote maybe a page’s worth of notes consisting of “bangs” and random prompts that sent us off in odd directions. With our input, Sam vibed, bobbed, and weaved content that suited the table.

When he passed away, I inherited all his game books and notes. I went through them and realized some of those month-long campaigns were only a handful of notes. Primarily names of places, a few characters, and maybe a plot point or two. He did love to draw dungeons …lots of dungeons so perhaps that was him writing a plot. I’ll never know, but I can only assume the drawings factored into the overall development of the plot and the campaign. Like most GMs, he kept a lot in his head. Sam wasn’t a GM in the sense that most D&D games would have believed. He was a player who allowed us to play the game, and he played along with us. It was just as fresh to him because (I believe) he didn’t know what would happen next, just like the rest of us.

Sam died of Leukemia in the early 90s, and I lost a brother. I love and miss him daily, not just as a GM but also as a generous older brother who helped me become a decent human.

But getting back on topic, The adventure I wrote sort of happened. It was my Point of View and what I thought should have occurred in certain situations, but maybe not what actually happened. Games and the Gamer War Stories are like that.

My artwork has evolved a bit (not much), but I feel I have a better- but not perfect- grasp on my gaming style. If I had to describe my gaming style as a meal, it isn’t a five course meal, but more like a fast food value meal.

2 responses to “The Story Is A Thing That Happens On The Bus Ride Home.”

  1. I’ll reiterate what I said on the discord when I first saw this:

    Appreciate the reflections. There’s something about looking back on the things we made when young (play & comics in this case) and being able to see the pure spirit behind it absent the sort of critique we levy on ourselves in the present.

    The other thing your post makes me think of are statements Ron has made (paraphrased and half-remembered) to the effect that we don’t have to, nor can we, really imagine all the events of play in the same way. What’s important is that we are saying things that reincorporate what others have said, in such a way that others can take what we have said and reincorporate that into play, as well. Details that are otherwise unclarified may be imagined in any number of ways, and that’s still functional. That idea really repelled me at first (I enjoy fleshing out details of place and appearance and sound and etc. as a part of play), but I have come around to simply seeing it as true.

  2. I really like these! The dynamism of the characters fighting that off-panel threat, the orc corpse riddled with arrows, the stark architecture of TROG TEMPLE (which reminds me of some old DEN comic) and more. Good stuff & all the better for being about your group’s characters, your campaign, and your personal experience.

    Also, I am sorry for your loss.

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