A busy summer swirled to a finish and right into a new school year and within about a week Dragon Con 2013, here in Atlanta, Georgia. I ran a variety of Heroquest-based role playing games at my school's summer camp, ranging from simple fairy tales to mini-campaigns. I often use the fantasy world of Glorantha as the basis for my stories, but the richness and particulars of the setting remain underdeveloped when I only have an hour or so a day with children. A few kids ask questions and take themselves deeper into the shared, imagined realm, but most just play along, half in their own imaginings, and a few come to these activities and just listen to the unfolding story. All of these kinds of experiences are great for young, growing minds, and different people have different interests and intensities. Most fun for me, though, and best for developing gaming and imagination predilections and skills, I think, is when they delve as deeply as they can.
I have a great new class of thirty-one fifth and sixth graders. Our classroom theme for the whole year is China, and next week we'll start our yearlong simulation of politics in the early Tang Dynasty of China. As part of what is essentially a LARP, each student will portray a historical character from the period, as they all compete for power and resources. Their travails often follow the events and rhythms of actual history, and their activities also paint a version of what might have happened in those unknown, gray spaces that exist throughout the historical record. The conversations and explorations that follow are rich with all kinds of learning and the development of skills that will find application beyond the study of China. My students become much more motivated in our other, more traditional studies, since everything they can learn about China contributes to their ability to play the game. It's a wonderful feedback system and grows in strength throughout the year.
As I've wrapped up a summer of travel and little games and begun another great school year, Dragon Con comes along at the same time. This year, I had a mix of games and time to explore the rest of this vast gathering of fandom. My games were all Heroquest games, set in Glorantha. The first was set a traditional dungeon crawl with rogues, warriors, and a wizard or two. The second was a horror story based in an isolated martial arts temple, and the third was a tale of high magic and huge monsters. I had a great time and explore some corners of Heroquest, Glorantha, and game play that I can bring to my own games, of various sizes, with various groups.
The rest of con was as colorful as ever, fantastic costumes blending with music, panels, sprawling shopping areas, and more. The parade was exuberant, and the con brimmed with people of all ages and complexions, families and grognards. I love the tone of Dragon Con, which accepts every kind of non-harmful interest and eccentricity. I don't share even a handful of them, but I wish every day and everywhere were as accepting.
With these lessons in mind, I am beginning new games, exploring new games, and writing new games.