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The One Less Traveled By

I remember it like it was yesterday.  My wife and I had been playing a good amount of D&D, and she was a little depressed.  I asked her what was wrong, as any good husband should.  She looked at me and said “You know how we pretend to have these adventures?”

Not knowing where this was going, I answered “Yeah?”

“I just wish they were real!  That we were really doing something like this stuff!”

Now, on the surface, that just sounded like crazy talk.  But I thought for a moment and realized that it wasn’t really.  We talked a bit more, and she was basically just a bit bored of talking about doing cool things, when we just sat around watching TV when not role playing.  I really couldn’t argue with what she was saying.  We were both working crap jobs at the time, and money was always tight.  Short of living in a parent’s basement, we were damn close to fitting the dreaded gamer stereotype.

I didn’t really act on anything then.  It took several years, but I took up backpacking.  I started off as an ultralight backpacker, which is sort of a more extreme backpacking.  Less gear, more skill required since gear can bail you out of a tough spot, etc.

My first trip had all the makings of a disaster.  I had overestimated my ability and finally made it into camp that first night well after dark.  I set up my camp and crashed, my feet hurting in ways I didn’t think possible.  The next morning, I ate the nastiest eggs in the history of man (I’m telling you folks, freeze dried eggs are awful), and started back out.  I was exhausted, and glad to start the long, long drive home.

I had a deer walk less than 10 feet in front of me.  I scrambled around rock faces where, quite honestly, a wrong step would have resulted in some fairly serious injury, if not worse.  I drank from streams, and had to ration water due to drought conditions on the mountain.  I sweated my butt off by day, and was cold at night.

I had done it.  I’d actually become a real-life adventurer.  My wife’s passing comment years ago, one that she’s never really acted on herself, lead me down the road less traveled by.  It’s not for everyone, but it was for me.  Despite the times on the trail when my feet were killing me, I never gave in.  I finished what I started, and despite the pain, I had the time of my life.

I won’t sit here and tell you that you should take up backpacking, or anything else, but I do urge you to take that road less traveled by, whatever it may be.  Not only will you be doing something you can be proud of, but it may actually help your role play.  You’ll know what it’s like to walk 15 miles in a day with all your gear on your back, or you’ll know what it’s like braving white water rapids, or climbing a rock wall that goes straight up, or any number of other things.

Why stick solely with pretending to have adventures where there’s so many real ones you can have as well?

September 11, 2008 - Posted by | RPG | ,


  1. Well put! Great post.

    We’re surrounded by so many imaginary adventures that we often come to believe that adventure can only be imaginary.

    Comment by Brent P. Newhall | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks Brent! You’re absolutely right. Of course, we can handle types of adventures within a game that we would just as soon leave there, like being attacked by a goblin horde. But there’s always real adventures to be had!

    Comment by Tom | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  3. I hear you there bro. Compared to the imaginary treks and orc-slaying endeavors of my weekends…real life is pretty tame.

    I reccommend watching ROME. It will remind you of the brutalities of “primitive” culture. Then again, if you have always been a closet phalanx spearman/Barbarian dismemberer, it may just spur you on 🙂

    Problem with real life adventures is that they are both hit or miss and completely random. Your backpacking trip wouldn’t be very fondly remembered if you fell off the rocks and broke your ankle before sitting in a gully for three days waiting for help.

    LARP and SCA try and fill that gap, but they end up being full of elitist snobs and cliques that are nearly impenetrable. Add to that the behind the scenes “shenanigans” (I’m a Pennzig 98 to 02 survivor) and it becomes high school…with swords.

    Funny thing is…would any of us REALLY be ready to defend our campsite from raiding orcs? Or would we turn into terrified, screaming victims? Thanks for the thought provoking post!

    Comment by Donny_the_DM | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  4. Donny,
    I hear ya completely. The adventure does rest in the possibility of disaster, not in actual disaster. However, if you tempt fate long enough, you will have that disaster. Just the law of probability there.

    I used to do SCA myself, and frankly it never filled that gap for me. Instead, the only aspect they ever seemed to get close to accurate was the backstabbing and intrigue crap.

    As for orcs raiding my campsite, I’d like to think I’d bust out of my tent with an AK-47 and hose the little bastards down

    Comment by Tom | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  5. Well said sir. Your wife’s comment was what spurred me to do LARPing myself. Now I play in three different LARPs and can’t get enough! I have some posts on LARPing over on my blog if you or your wife are interested in looking into what it entails.

    Comment by Storyteller | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’m considered, in the distant past, getting a group of friends together and heading out on a little camping trip into the woods to do some unofficial LARPing. I never got around to organizing it and now the group is a bit less sizeable, but I’m still supremely interested in the idea. Nothing silly with rock/paper/scissors or rice bags, just a party of humans (or close proximities thereof, lol), with some homemade armor and bamboo weapons against some baddies for a night or two.

    Sigh, pipedreams can be so cruel sometimes 😉

    Comment by Liambic | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  7. @Storyteller: The thing is, LARPing wasn’t what she had in mind. She was talking about actual real life stuff, rather than real world pretend, which most LARPS are by necessity. She was talking about traveling and camping, backpacking, maybe even some canoing.

    Just a bit different, but we do thank you for the offer. You’ve got some good stuff on your site 😉

    @Liambic: While I might not be much for the LARPing, a D&D session on a camping trip could be a lot of fun. At worst, I could use it as a shakedown trip before a backpacking trip with new gear 😉

    Comment by Tom | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  8. Forgive me for the vagueness of that last comment, it was at the end of a very looong day at work, hehe.

    To articulate better, what it’d essentially boil down to is a game of paintball with wood sticks instead of high velocity color blobs.

    Comment by Liambic | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  9. Us bashing on one another willy-nilly? Now, I don’t care you ya are, that could be fun!

    Comment by Tom | September 12, 2008 | Reply

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