Wednesday, February 22, 2017

MK: Chasing the Grail

MK: Chasing the Grail

Back from an unexpected hiatus, I bring a topic very dear to me. Time to talk about "Chasing the Grail". I am using the term 'Chasing the Dragon' loosely here. For anyone who has become a Tabletop enthusiast, you understand. 
 I am one of those few souls who have not partaken in a wide variety of recreational drugs. I have to admit that a large part of the why on this one has to do with the introduction to Tabletop Games at a young age. I have always been a bit socially awkward (only getting worse with age), and I am very much a 'Dork'. Had I not found another place to fit in, experimenting with drugs could have been my way to 'fit'. But thankfully I found dim lit rooms with Tabletops where people like me could congregate to indulge in an activity seen as worse than drugs                          ...Tabletop Gaming.

I know this can be hard to believe in the world of today where we have socially accepted Icons that have helped us to burst forth from our basements and break free of the stereotype of "D&D Dorks". We have 'Eye Candy' like Vin Diesel who grew up as one of 'us', but lives like one of 'them'. We have millions of people watching "Critical Role" and the name Matt Mercer is spoken over Tabletops around the globe. People are now seeing more than pizza, pimples, Cheetos and two liters of Mountain Dew. These are good times! 

But... unlike those people who lived their wild little party lives, we don't 'Chase the Dragon'. Odd when you think about it. We slay Dragons, we play their disciples, their kin. We fight Goblins and Orcs. We wield Magic. We swing our enchanted swords. But we do not 'Chase the Dragon'. We leave that to them. We know that the Dragon is real. We believe in the dragon, because we have faced him, and we know fear. 
They don't believe in Dragons. They just want to dance in it's intoxicating presence not knowing that sooner or later, that Dragon will get hungry ...and his bite is lethal. We know that if they, in their desire to relive some portion of their youth, actually catch that dragon...
So, no, we do not 'Chase the Dragon'. We are true Heroes. We go on quests. We save the Princess. We educate the next generation of Dragon Slayers. We train tomorrows Fighters and make friends with the Barbarians. We invite the wizard to build his tower within our walls so that together we may be stronger. When this was your life, how do you explain attempting to get back to the Magic of those moments? How do you place into a single term the desire to revisit that 'high'?

We 'Chase the Grail'.

For me this Grail has been just out of my grasp for over two decades. Trying to find your fix when the dealers don't carry it anymore is rough. You just keep sitting back hoping to hear of a friend that has a personal stash. One fine day in my youth, I was introduced to a game that completely changed my view of what a board game could be. It was half board game, half RPG! It was called "HeroQuest". Produced by Milton Bradley. I have gone over my thoughts on this game before. Feel free to check out the past blogs if you want more on that. The whole point of this in the here and now? For me, this has been my 'Grail' game. I loved the game so much that it has nothing but positive memories in my brain, even though I am sure I pitched a fit or two playing it back in the day. 
For two decades now I have been chasing the grail. This was my Grail. I am sure other folks have theirs. The name of the game is not what is important. I have played countless games on numerous Tabletops all in the attempt to find this part of my youth and relive it once more. I have had some very amazing 'highs'! I have also found plenty of 'tainted' material. Here is the big dilemma... what do you do when you find the Grail?

Recently I was very fortunate enough to find and acquire a copy of my Grail. With an expansion even! I have had it for a couple of months now, but I am admittedly afraid to play it. At first I blamed the whole 'not enough people' bit. Then it was 'I am going to paint the minis first!', but at some point I had to be honest with myself. I am afraid that this game, the one that has sparked my passion for the Industry, may not be able to live up to my fantasy. I have held this as 'The Game' in my head for a long time because of glorified memories. When I go to relive my days and dance around the fire in my metal haze as the Dragon chasers do, what if I too am faced with the reality of the fact that those days are over. 
The Magic of youth is gone. 
I will never be able to relive those old moments...

Don't worry, I do have an answer. 

As I was having this depressing thought sitting in my living room staring at the game on the shelf, it came to me. The answer literally walked right up to me and smiled. "Papa? Can we play a game?" It was my three and a half year old. This is when that light bulb moment hit me. I can never relive those moments, but I can create new ones. I can do as I once did and train the new generation of Dragon Slayers and Warriors. I can show them how to make friends and get the wizard on your side. The whole problem with attempting to recapture a moment? The moment is already gone. Nothing more than a memory. The trick is not to chase the memory of a feeling, it is to create new memories. New life now surges within this heart. I can feel the Magic again. Only this time, I am not in search of it. I am its creator. The Magic lives in the imaginations of two little ladies, who have not yet begun their journeys. I now sit and plot the stories we will tell together as I paint some little Goblins and a few Orcs.

My girls may not be old enough to play the Grail with me. But that will change. I will show them a world where anything is possible. A world where you can be anyone you want to be. A world with Dragons. I will teach them how to remove the tyrant placed upon the stolen throne. I will give them a world that they will not need to escape from, but instead one they can escape into. I will guide them through world changing efforts that begin with a small group of brave people, just knowing what is right, and being willing to stand and fight for it. I will do all of this in one hope. When the time comes that my ladies look back upon their youth, they will know not to look for the Dragon. But instead...
...They will Chase the Grail.

Until next time ...Game On!