Role-Playing Gone Wrong | By Shareen Ayoub

What is $5 to you?

Is it just a membership fee? Or is it the inevitable onslaught of a fascist regime?

Or is just a dirty blow job at the back of some dank alley way in the inner city?

Today, $5 is enough to create a rift in the world of role playing games.

It all started in the peaceful and notoriously friendly city of Edmonton when the reigns of power for an online forum were transferred to man with a new “vision.”

An Edmonton gaming group’s days were numbered after the previous moderator announced to all 400 plus members he could no longer carry the yearly cost for maintaining the group.

It was during this forum’s darkest hour when one man came to the light and saved the day.

Shortly after gloriously crowning himself leader of the group – he dropped the fantastical equivalent of a bomb on his peers.

The previously free to join group would now have a membership fee.

A $5 membership fee.

Rage tore through the internet – making gamers nerd rage all over the city. Keyboards were smashed and health potions shattered.

How dare he charge a role playing gamer for a free service.

One by one, forum posts turned ugly with people saying things like this:

Internal strife rapidly turned to chaos when players cast the spell “basic math” and discovered that if 400 people paid $5 each, the group would raise $2,000. The yearly meet up fee is nestled comfortably at a mere $144 per year. What would the newly self-elected leader do with over 10 times the amount needed for the fees?

On one hand some players believed in paying the membership fee with the justification that no one should be solely burdened with the cost of keeping this online family together. Some even offered to pay over $50 for the cause, while others blatantly refused – threatening to never roll dice with their enemies again.

Peace ensued.

Until that is – scandal broke out.

It was during an intense battle with a Lich, when phones went wild with an email notification.

The Lord of the Dice had a message for his subjects – and it came in the form of a threat.

The email said – and I quote:

“On June 14th, there will be a reckoning! The beauty of RPG has granted me a vivid imagination and upon this day, we will march forth with our banner high and our snare drums beating to the sharp rhythm to a new day.” He later described the slow and torturous process of removing everybody from the meet-up group too frugal to bankroll his cause.

I was moderately impressed with his prose – and admittedly a bit jealous that he possessed such an astute ability to articulate his imagination.

But wait – was this fair?

One the one hand – sharing a community cost, to me at least, seems totally legit.

Unless of course you’re over-charging…

His constant Game of Thrones references and brutal imagery only confirmed what I had long dreaded –

I had to go to this reckoning to discover the truth… undercover.

Obviously, I would need an inconspicuous disguise.

So I went to my local Armoury to gather gear.

The men at the Comic Book Shop picked out only the finest foam weapon. They even recommended armour –

but it cost $650.

The reckoning would be held at Remedy Cafe.

And I was incognito defined.

Bursting into the cafe, I made my way to the table of six wearing really cool t-shirts. I did not stand out at all. In fact, everyone was quite accepting of my bastard sword, over sized beach ball D20, face paint and Dungeons and Dragons t-shirt.

I decided to scope out the situation.

“How many people paid?” I asked demurely to the man in charge.

“Twenty nine,” he mumbled – barely making eye contact.

Twenty nine people out of 400 was an impressive 7%.

Obviously, instilling the fear of an imaginary shit storm wasn’t enough to get players to cough up the dough.

“Does this mean you’re going to kick out over 350 people for not paying?”

“Well no,” he stammered going on to explain his tactic – he wanted to scare people into paying “like Game of Thrones,” he closed confidently. He proceeded to preach about how gamers had the “entitlement mentality” and how “drama sells.”

Eager to change the subject – the God of Gaming produced a book from his bag of holding. “Look,” he said energetically, “I have a door prize for one of you.”

The book slowly levitated off the table, revealing its title. No-one knew of the fantasy text – nor did anyone particularly care. I asked if anyone wanted it, and was rewarded with a few awkward head shakes.

One player couldn’t take it anymore: “I offered to cover the yearly cost of the meet-up on the condition that you would waive the membership fee,” he shouted.

Gasps escaped the lips of the four others paying attention.

“We already discussed this, if we take money from you – then we can’t charge everyone else other fees.”

What did that even mean?

I still couldn’t get over the “forced” membership fee that wasn’t required.

When asked where the extra money would go, all the Gaming Master could offer were empty promises of family barbecues, and visits from that woman who wrote 50 Shades of Grey.

Ok, in fairness – he didn’t offer the latter, but that’s because the group couldn’t afford her.

I then boldly went where no-one else would go and asked, “Do any of you pay for any other meet-up forums?”

One by one, each role player shamefully shook their head.

I had reached my level of tolerable bullshit for the day.

After his affirmation that no-one would get booted from the group, I collected my weapons and dice and decided to leave.

It was only on my way home that I learned an invaluable lesson – Mana potions (those little energy drinks packaged in a potion shaped bottle) sold at comic book stores contain over 6,000% of your daily vitamin B intake.

That shit will kill you.

Sweet Dreams World.

Follow Shareen on Twitter @shareenayoub.

This post was republished from A Day in the Life of Shareen A

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