Just before Christmas I was down in London, attending Dragonmeet. Dragonmeet is a one-day tabletop gaming convention that takes place at the start of December. It has been going on since the turn of the millennium, and I have missed it only twice. Once was because it happened to coincide with my 20th wedding anniversary, and the other time was in 2020.
During December 2020, we were at the height of the pandemic. However, the organisers of Dragonmeet had decided that they would carry on and hold a virtual convention. There would be the usual talks, seminars and gaming sessions; but these would take place online. One of the organisers contacted me. “Hey – John!” he asked me. “Would you be able to run some of your games for us?”
“No,” I said. “I’m not going to. Not this year.” And I explained my reasoning. I’d already been running online gaming sessions for friends, using the various tabletop tools and communications software at my disposal. But even though I knew the people I was playing the games with – in some cases for over thirty years! – I found it hard to cope. I could not easily judge people’s reactions and tell how to pace the game or how to pitch it. There was no way I’d be able to run gaming sessions for random strangers that way. “I won’t be able to bring my ‘A’ game,” I said. “But as soon as we can meet in person, I’m in.”
And I was. The convention organisers had a number of rules for attendees. We all had to wear masks, all the time, in the convention halls. We all had to present evidence we were either vaccinated or not infectious. There were a few people who complained, but there were almost 1800 people who turned up on the day.
For most of the day, I was in a meeting room, the windows open to the chill December air. I was wrapped up against the cold, changing my mask every four hours. But, most importantly, I was running game sessions. It felt good to be back in the saddle, telling tales and entertaining a group of people, putting them at the centre of their stories – stories that we were crafting for ourselves and for nobody else.
We were back together, doing the things we loved. And, despite the cold, the masks and the other things that were different, we felt good.
OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.
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