Or, see your Alpha Geek and raise. Last month, I mentioned that I had found some D&D players here in Romania. About which more anon. But first, answers to some questions about that post. Andrew asked:
Being a part of the Washington Establishment who rubs shoulders with the international elite, do the financiers, technocrats, etc. with whom you come into contact on a daily basis know of this habit of yours? I ask this because I'm rather embarassed for a professor of Old French to find out that I game; I can't imagine the horror that I'd feel if I were meeting a finance minister and s/he found out. Or is part of coming to terms with the inner geek the ability to have no fear that a foreign minister would also know of your habit?
Good question, Andrew. Well, first, I'm not really rubbing shoulders with the international elite. I have met the last couple of Prime Ministers here but we're not exactly close. Most of my work takes place at a much lower, technical level. Second, D&D has such a low profile in Romania that it's unlikely the finance minister would know what the hell it was about. Expats know about it, but there are only two other expats in my office. Third, I'm working as a consultant right now, and you'd be surprised what sorts of eccentricities are tolerated among consultants. In that respect, it's easier than working at, say, a big law firm. Fourth, while I'm not concealing it, I'm not emphasizing it either. It's not on my CV. But then, neither is the birdwatching, the Usenet, or the fact that I love playing hide-and-seek with our two-year-old. And fifth and finally, at the end of the day, screw it. I am a geek. I play D&D and I like it. That's been true since I was in high school, so it looks like a pretty fixed part of my character. If employers, colleagues, or local counterparts are going to have a problem with that... well, they just are. Then Novak asked:
Can you compare the D&D experience in all thrre places (States vs. Serbia vs. Romania)?Yes I can. Short answer: it's incredibly similar. It's a bit odd, because I've seen differences between Serbs and Romanians in other, related areas. Serbs like science fiction more, while Romanians are great fantasy readers. Serbs love CounterStrike, while Romanians play a lot of Grand Theft Auto. (Albanians, BTW, absolutely LOVE CounterStrike.) Romanians seem to play a lot of Magic: the Gathering, while I've never seen a deck in Serbia. But when it comes to D&D, well. All the familiar types are right there: the role-player, the power-gamer, the rules lawyer, the munchkin. The guy who won't let anyone else touch his dice. The guy whose character who always has to slip off ahead of the party and look for loot. The guy who always plays a paladin. In both Serbia and Romania, I passed around some back issues of Knights of the Dinner Table, and everybody recognized everybody at once. -- Oh, there are some differences. There are no gaming stores, so everything has to be imported somehow. Some people pick stuff up on visits to western Europe or the US; some make purchases on eBay. Some get friends to buy stuff for them. (I've schlepped at least 20 issues of Dungeon and Dragon magazines into Romania.) You don't meet gamers with hundreds of supplements, thousands of miniatures, and the $75 leather-bound special edition of the Player's Handbook. And since the hobby is relatively new out here, you don't meet Elder Geeks with war stories dating back to the Carter Administration. ("Hah! I'd like to see you kids try running through the Tomb of Horrors! Let's see if your silly feats and skill ranks will stop your soul from being sucked into the crystal eyeball of a demi-lich!") But the gamers are the same, and the experience of being a Dungeon Master is almost uncannily the same. I have a bit more to say about this, but let me pause now. Here are some pictures.
The DM needs to check a spell description. Stalling for time, he starts babbling in a squeaky kobold voice. "Oh no, hobgoblins, very bad! No no, run away!"Oddly, this photograph has caught two female players. As far as I know, they are the only two female D&D players in Romania. Otherwise, it's pretty typical. Note the homemade DM's screen. You can buy a DM's screen for, I don't know, $15? That's a lot of money in Romania, so one bright fellow printed out the screen art, laminated it, and then spiral-bound the pages into a screen. Clever, no? Note also the coffee mugs, the beer, and the food dishes. Romanians are incredibly hospitable and Romanian D&D players are no different. The DM must carefully control his intake, especially of alcohol. Your hosts will keep pushing beer and wine at you. Not so great, when you're trying to coordinate the attacks of six goblins, three hobgoblins, an evil spellcaster, and the carnivorous assassin vine that guards the entrance to the second level. So make that beer last. Finally, note the tchotchke rack in the back corner. By American or German standards, Romanian apartments tend to be tchotchke-intensive. (Serbs too.) No idea why, just thought I'd mention it. A close-up of the gaming table:
The player characters, assembled, celebrate their triumph over the hobgoblin chieftain! Now they can descend to the second level and foil the schemes of the evil druid who lurks below.An ordinary lead miniature costs a couple of hours' wages for an average Romanian, plus the cost and trouble of importing them. Putting together enough miniatures to play, including monster minis for the DM, is a serious investment of time and money. So, I make sure to use the miniatures as much as possible. If I were paying the equivalent of, say, $30 apiece for minis, I'd want to see them get a workout. Okay, more on this in a bit. (Photos courtesy of Adrian, gnome illusionist.)