Last month I took a big decision as far as my gaming life is concerned... I gave up the hope of reviving my old playing group of buddies and I started looking for fresh blood. The reasons are manifold, but the main one is probably that I was tired of running after my old friends to get some gaming going.
They are good friends, and they are dear to me, but our gaming activity got worse and worse in recent years, and I have a nagging suspicion that on top of the usual trouble everyone experiences growing up - or rather, growing old... - my friends had some trouble dealing with my gaming having something to do with work. I can understand that - to a degree, but I can't do anything about it: I am a game designer, and I need to play games, many games, my games and everybody's elses games too. It's indeed part of my job, but I don't think it would go any differently if I wasn't designing games. I have always been interested in experimenting, and my taste for diversity has always clashed somewhat with the intention of my friends to play just a handful of titles.
So, to make a long story short, I dropped a couple of casual remarks with an acquaintance of mine who I once played a game of War of the Ring with: he is the owner of a Pizzeria, and in that occasion we played the game inside his place. Well, it didn't take much convincing, and in just a few days we agreed to meet again inside his restaurant with a bunch of his friends. And that was last night; when I got to the place at the appointed hour, with my copy of The One Ring in my bag, I was met by no less than seven people! Filippo, that's the name of the owner of the pizzeria, got together a bunch of friends, including his girlfriend Francesca, his sister Elisa, Elisa's boyfriend Tomaso (yep, one M, weird for an Italian), his friend Jacopo and partner Christiane, and a common acquaintance, Federico, a fellow Aikido practitioner!
You know, I am used to play rpgs with kind of smallish groups, three, maybe four guys, so I was pretty sure we were heading for some chaos... I was happily disappointed, as we spent a delightful evening getting to know each other and creating the company of characters for a new The One Ring game. Almost everyone in the group was new to role-playing games (!), and some was even green to gaming in general (!!), but everyone was enthusiastic and eager to start, and so it was relaxing and felt nothing like work... yes, for I must confess that I worked a little bit, playtesting some more of the new Men of the Lake alternative culture for TOR, a type of character two out of seven players picked up without any prodding from my part - probably because everyone found them somewhat similar to ancient Venitians!
So, that was it. New group, new gaming life. Next time we meet, it will probably be to start playing (playtesting?) one of the adventures out of Tales of Wilderland - it will depend on where in the area they will decide to debut their adventuring career. A breath of fresh air!