One role-playing game changed the way I think, or confirmed the way I think—now I don’t know which.
It was Mage: The Ascension. The tabletop role-playing game had players take on the roles of modern mages. The difference was, in previous RPGs, mages are usually spell-casting wizards. In Mage, magic works by imposing will upon the world: A mage wants something to happen. They try to learn how to do things like that (use fire, use time, use space between things, use death), and then they try to force their will on the world. If they succeed without irritating the world (which is a function of other human beings’ belief about how things work), they succeed in their magic. If they don’t, or they’re too obnoxiously obvious about their magic, they fail or succeed … and strange supernatural consequences may happen to them.
Anyway, one of my best friends, James, used to spend hours with me chatting about this world and its ideas.
Well, I saw this book sitting on my bookshelf, and I thought: Who made this thing?
Sam Chupp’s name was associated with the game. He wasn’t the mastermind behind it all, but he was a key writer for a few years with the game’s publisher, White Wolf, and he takes us through a journey in this podcast that covers RPGs, White Wolf, writing, the business of writing, and the pain of workplace burnout, then healing, imagination, and art. We also find out about a game he’s close to releasing himself …
What does that all mean? That means Chupp’s story turned out to be even more interesting to me than anything I could have learned about the Mage game from him.
For those not well-versed in tabletop role-playing games, especially White Wolf, there may be some “What the hell are you saying?” moments. But don’t give up. Let those weird moments of jargon float by and go deep again. Chupp and I will always dance to another topic, and you’ll catch the train of thought again.