About the time I arrived in Yorkton a quarter century ago a fellow journalist at the then Enterprise Scott Boyes introduced me to the world of role playing games (RPG).
An RPG is broadly defined as a game in which players take on the roles of imaginary characters who engage in adventures, typically in a particular computerized fantasy setting overseen by a referee.
My first experience was playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the grandfather of the genre.
But there are numerous other game systems out there, and more being developed all the time.
One recent addition to the RPG genre is 'The Darkest Age'.
Like all RPGs the big draw of The Darkest Age is being able to create unique characters within the setting. Each character is assigned a set of skills and attributes, limitations a player must deal with as they assume the role of their character. It is the opportunity to become someone heroic at the gaming table, and truly escape into a new world as someone else which makes an RPG like The Darkest Age so much fun.
"The Darkest Age is a role-playing game set in an alternate history of medieval Europe. The Black Plague has ravaged the known world, spreading from the mysterious port of Constantinople and wreaking havoc amongst the populations of Greece, Italy, Spain and central Europe.
"Instead, small groups of mercenaries, robber knights and retainers skirmish throughout the plague-lands, fighting their enemies, both living and dead," explains the rule book.
So why the darker theme?
"Everyone has a little shadow in them. The Darkest Age allows players and GMs to work through that darkness and redeem their characters in a fun and cathartic process. Each session of The Darkest Age is like a little social experiment; it tests social bonds, as well team play concepts," explained game co-creator Eric Staggs.
Still, while darker in theme, Staggs said the game is about making players think in terms of dealing with situations within the game. It is not merely draw a sword and wade into the fray.
"When developing The Darkest Age Staggs said it took much effort to create the world in which the game is set.
"That's easy - it was absorbing, digesting and distilling 500-800 years of history," he said. "Working backward from 2012, we traced the evolution of western society to the 14th century. Then, creating a reasonable scope of material. That period of history is flush with events, kings, queens, and all the rest. We had to not only know what really happened, but what would happen given our hypothetical zombie apocalypse."
"The farmer who lives in the village might be really strong or really wise, but he's an NPC, not a hero. It is this distinction that allows players to survive in this disease-wracked world.
"Historically, people could survive the plague.
"In our setting, a character exposed to the plague is "likely" to become ill, die and become a zombie.. With the right treatment, a skilled apothecary, surgeon or healer might save the characters life."
"In editing right now we have a Game Master's Companion - a supplement that answers all those odd questions that come up during play - like how long can four starving knights live on rabbits and leather? We're expecting to see the GMC late summer," said Staggs.
Check out the game at www.darkest-age.com
If anyone is interested in any of these games feel free to contact calmar...@sasktel.net