I Have No Game, and I Must Blog

Traveling the Silk Roads

S. Ben Melhuish • Tuesday, October 4, 2022 • filed under playing, historical, settings

It’s been almost 14 years since I last played a regular RPG — we had a good stopping point right before the Bambina and my nephew were born. Since then, I’ve just dabbled a bit, running a couple D&D 5e games to get the Dude and his friends started, running a game for the Bambina, and guesting in the Dude’s campaign a few times to fill in when they didn’t have enough players.

A few months ago, my good friend Nathan1 decided it was time to start a new game. He gathered his friends Benjamin2, Maddie, Sylvia, and Bryan, and the six of us met this past Sunday for our “session zero” to get things started. As we’ve hashed out (slowly) over the past few months, our characters are going to be traveling and having adventures along a fantastical version of the historical Silk Roads, c. 800–1000 CE.3

Our plan is to meet every other week, with no rescheduling of individual sessions. To make it easier for a person to miss one4, we intend to end each scenario by the end of the session. This is part of why, on Bryan’s suggestion, we’re using the system from the Barbarians of Lemuria pulp fantasy game.5 He’s the only one who’s played it at all, and that not much, but we feel good about it: It looks like it will run pretty quickly, which means that we shouldn’t find the rules slowing us to a crawl.6

This will be the first time in my gaming life where I am not the primary GM. Bryan7 will be taking on those duties (though I’ll be the backup GM if he can’t for a session — sick, other plans, Just Can’t, whatever). It’s actually kind of exciting to not have many responsibilities on me, but it feels odd — I don’t know if I’ll be very good at letting go. Maybe I’ll need to run a game of my own on alternating weeks….

  1. I met Nathan a few months after I moved to Seattle, almost 25 years ago. He was part of my last two long-term games. ↩︎

  2. It’s not like Ben is a rare name, exactly, but it’s uncommon enough that I haven’t built up many antibodies to a person saying “my” name but not speaking to me. ↩︎

  3. Other games that I pitched were 13th Age Glorantha, Night's Black Agents, and a game inspired by the Aubrey/Maturin nautical fiction novels by Patrick O’Brian↩︎

  4. We don’t intend for this to happen often, but most of us have families and/or full-time jobs. Things come up. ↩︎

  5. It’s already been adapted to other genres in other published games, suggesting that it’s fairly flexible … though pulp fantasy isn’t far off from where we think our Silk Road game will end up. ↩︎

  6. D&D, even in its newest edition, gets pretty slow when combat starts, as do many other games. ↩︎

  7. Not entirely coincidentally, Bryan’s day job is teaching history, with a particular focus on some of the regions the Silk Roads pass through. ↩︎