More years ago than I like to admit, I took an anthropology course that covered the role of religion in primitive societies. The thrust of one lesson was that in those societies (and in our own to a lesser extent) rituals were enacted as a means of “winding the world clock.” Unless those rites were performed at the proper times in the correct manner, the world would come to an end. Needless to say, in these societies, the role of rituals is an important one.
In yesterday’s post, I briefly mentioned that I enjoy a cup of tea and a cookie after I come home from running my Sunday afternoon game sessions. It’s not a superstition or a nervous habit, just a tiny reward to myself for having a good game. It certainly isn’t done to keep the world from crashing to a halt.
Nevertheless, one has to admit that this hobby has its fair share of superstitions and rituals, whether we truly believe in them or not. Just look at the way some of us regard our dice: if that’s not a talismanic believe system in action, I don’t know what is. With that in mind, I thought it might be both enlightening and entertaining to open up the comments section to you all in order to learn what sort of strange game-related habits, superstitions, quirks, and rituals you have accumulated around the gaming table over the years. Since this is my proverbial house, I’ll fess up first.
I really have no hardcore quirks or habits anymore. My post-game tea and cookie ritual is the weirdest one I still have. I’ll sometimes listen to the local radio station’s Sunday chamber music program on the way to the game, especially if I was rushing my way out the door and need to calm my head a bit before I reach where ever it is we’re playing that week, but that’s it for pre-game bugaboos. I’m also mostly free of dice phobias nowadays. The closest I come to strange dice habits is that I own two sets of Gamescience precision dice and I alternate between the sets each week to ensure maximum Zocchi-brand randomness.
Back in college, when I was still a smokin’ and drinkin’ man, I did have a little ritual I’d enact each week before my regular Vampire: The Masquerade game. Luckily, it wasn’t anything too geeky. There was no wearing of a velour cape and drinking a draught of absinthe from a skull goblet or anything like that. Instead, I’d drink one of the few remaining beers left over from Saturday night’s bacchanalia and light up a Camel Filter while listening to a Bauhaus track or two (OK, the Bauhaus thing is a little geeky). That was a fun little practice because even the players got into it. They knew that when that beer was cracked open and the lighter sparked, the role-playing magic was getting ready to begin. Just witnessing that got everybody into “Let’s play pretend mode” and some of those sessions were so much the better for it.
I don’t know if it’s age or simple lack of time, but most of my ritual baggage has long been discarded. That doesn’t necessarily mean I miss it from time to time.That’s my hang-up, baby.
EDIT: I forgot one other game-related quirk my group has. That mini, the one on the left. It's cursed, you see. So far, every character that has used that miniature as a marker has died. I think the current tally is three or four slain characters. Right now, Rob is using it for Kaldar and seems determined to break the curse. I'm sure I'll get blamed for drawing the gaming gods' attention his way should Kaldar die after this post. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him. It be good to break the curse.