Okay so two subjects for discussion.
As I have mentioned, we're headed out to go backpacking.
For entertainment value only, here is the list that I compiled a few weeks ago of the things that I thought were needed:
boot socks (x2 or x3)
spare AAA batteries for GPSr
spare batteries for flashlight
batteries for camera
first aid kit
camp plate/bowl, cup, fork/spoon, knife
one or more change of clothes
food & snacks
coffee filters (for coffee and water filtration, etc)
large ziplock bags
notebook and pen
pair of shorts
My list was not far off, and soon I'll comprise a list of what I actually am taking. I weighed my pack last night, and it was right at 40 pounds. I'm excited. We'll be leaving town about 5:30 Thursday morning and hiking Thursday afternoon, Friday, Saturday, Sunday morning, and driving back Sunday.
So for my second topic: Gaming..
Specifically Pen & Paper role playing games.. I've been playing D&D and other games fairly regularly since.. um.. like 1991 probably. I think the first RPG that I bought was "Recon" an RPG set in the Vietnam War. Shortly after, I picked up "Twilight 2000". During this time I also found someone's homebrew fantasy RPG in an attic. The things that I remember about it, aside from its many typed pages, clipped into a 3-ring binder, were the many and varied spells, and the damage system. Armor in this home-brew system functioned like damage resistance. Stronger armor subtracted from damage dealt. Thus my first campaign ended up with the heros having armor which allowed them to casually dispatch any number of creatures that were simply unable to damage them in their heavy armor. I picked up (probably stole - I was a semi-hooligan in high school) the AD&D 2nd Edition Dungeon Masters Guide. I wasnt allowed to have/play/etc D&D stuff, as my folks were super opposed to anything easily labeled evil or misguiding. So I kept it secreted away for awhile until it was discovered and confiscated. I continued to run with home-brew fantasy for some time. As high-school wound to a close I got into D&D again, for real this time, moving from my home-brew-with-stuff-taken-fromD&D into real AD&D. Ahhhh tHAC0. I played AD&D like it was my full time job. And I guess for some time, it was. I was able to live a little fast and loose right after high school, so I did alot of D&D and a little job-having. Anyway, years passed and my gaming went from frequent to infrequent, though I played some great games with some great people (I'm looking at you, former-jackson-gang.. and some still-in-jackson-folks too). I played some Shadowrun 3rd, Vampire the Masquerade, a Werewolf the Apocalypse game with GURPS lite-lite rules, some RIFTS, and I'm sure a bunch of other stuff - my wife will grimace and share with you that I collect gaming books. Anyway, that kindof brings us around to current day, and the last year or three.
After my gaming kindof trickled off, I got the itch and started scouring memphis looking for some gaming people. I finally found some and started playing with a group that had been playing a D&D 3.0 game. We converted to 3.5 during the campaign. It was alot of fun. I met some great people, some cool gamers, and a few people with whom I'm fast friends. (I promise I'm getting to a point, of sorts. My thought here has really been about RPG Theory, but I wanted to start at the beginning, for me.)
The crew from chizat, some of whom are the former-jackson-gang, have been somewhat influential in my gaming theory. For years, gaming for me involved killing orcs and climing ropes and all the other stuff you have to roll for in D&D. My philosophy has shifted from "Gamist" or even "Simulationist" to "Narrative". Previously, I played D&D, willing to overlook that things that go with Gamist or Simulationist D&D. Everything from 30 minute long rules arguments/negotiations/discussions, to trying and sometimes failing at mundane tasks, thanks to the dice. Its gaming that feels like you're literally playing Baldurs Gate or Diablo while sitting at the table.
I've lately been running with Narrative specifically in mind. It shouldnt be about who can "win" the game, or killing the most orcs, or jumping over the spike filled pit trap, its about having an engaging evening of gaming. That means changing the way the GM and players interact, and how the story and mechanics work. There are some great game systems out there that really help with this, like Donjon, Dogs in the Vineyard, FUDGE, Capes, and a ton of other games that I havent even been able to look at.
Anyway, I'd hoped to be able to phrase all of that in a more informative manner, but so many people are able to offer so much more information than I am at places like The Forge forums.
But coming up soon I'll be running a game with Feng Shui rules that's based on Constantine and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I hope that it works fantastically.