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© 1998-2001 Dru
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Gamer Groups and Divorce
Last year I wrote about
problems with gamers and dating, and today I'm writing about problems
with gamers and divorce. Sadly, I'm writing from personal experience,
as my twelve-year relationship with, and three-year marriage to, my husband,
a fellow gamer, dissolves. The reasons for its end aren't relevant here;
what I want to discuss instead is the effect it's had on our RPG group
and how we handled it, in case any of you should ever be in this situation
or have friends in this situation.
My husband and I are
lucky, in many ways. We have little shared property or finances and no
children; the divorce can be relatively simple, as divorces go. It's also
not an angry, hate-filled divorce, as divorces go. And he has left the
state, so we are unlikely to run into each other in social events in the
future. This story might be very different if the divorce were more adversarial
or if he were staying in the same city.
Before he moved away,
we split our gaming books and items—he took the monster and magic
items books, I took the AD&D Planescape supplements and spellbooks.
The rest of the books we divided according to who bought them or who was
most likely to need them later. Does this sound strange to the non-gamers
reading this? Think of it this way—our shared RPG paraphernalia
undoubtedly ran up into the thousands of dollars; far more, collectively,
than anything else we own (including the Blue Book values of our respective
vehicles)! Splitting our RPG material was, for us, as significant as splitting
a music collection or bank account might be to others.
The divorce's effect
on our gaming group was one of my concerns from the start, and I still
feel some concern about it. With my blood-family scattered across the
United States, my friend-family has taken on increased importance to me,
and my friend-family primarily consists of those with whom I have roleplayed.
It is also intimately tied into my relationship with my husband. Our gaming
friends are the people I met around the same time my husband and I met;
they are the people with whom we've spent many a long gaming weekend;
they are the people who attended our Renaissance-themed wedding; and they
are the people who are now watching us split up and wondering what effect
the split is going to have on our gaming community.
My husband and I met
in our college roleplaying club, and most of our mutual friends are roleplayers.
We have all gamed together for years, including playing in my husband's
AD&D campaign, which has run on and off for twelve real years and
spanned an entire character generation in game years. We were both the
major game masters in our RPG friend group. Some of the other members
have run short-lived campaigns or occasional one-shot adventures, but
he and I had the longest-running campaigns. His AD&D campaign ran
on and off for about twelve years, spanning a game generation. My AD&D
campaigns cycle consecutively, as I periodically close down one, skip
ahead a decade or two ahead in the same world, and start another. Our
apartment, no matter where we've moved, has often been the home base for
the gaming in our core group.
Thus, our split had
an immediate effect on our friends above and beyond the normal emotional
ones; it affected the deeply entrenched roleplaying community we'd built
up over the last decade-plus. When my husband left, he removed one of
the group's primary game masters and closed down a campaign the group
has lived and breathed since we were all undergraduates in college. I
and other game masters must now ease his characters from our own campaigns,
coming up with logical explanations for their absence. And we are all
are left with our long-term and well-loved characters from his campaign,
now lost in retired-character limbo.
Because our gaming group
was about to launch the "Second Generation" of my husband's
AD&D campaign, I have offered to take it over. I asked my husband
first, to make absolutely sure that he wasn't going to run it for us in
the future and that he didn't mind if I took it over. He gave me permission
to carry on. But I won't run it in his campaign world; that, I think,
would be taking liberties with his intellectual property. He and I have
spent decades developing our individual campaign worlds; it wouldn't be
right for either of us to take over the other's campaigns. Instead, I'll
take the characters developed for his game and move them into a Sigil-based
Planescape campaign, "neutral territory" as far as our homebrewed
campaigns go. It won't be the same as it would have been with him running
it; we won't be able to enjoy the second-generation politics and problems
we were hoping to encounter. I won't really be able to play my character,
instead relegating her to NPC status. But it's better than losing the
campaign thread entirely.
Because so many of our
friends are mutual, I have been careful to avoid asking anybody not to
contact my husband. I know that he will not stop being part of the gaming
group unless he deliberately decides to remove himself from it; his house
rules, his campaigns, his quotes and characters, his jokes and complaints
are part of our group's shared history, and my friends will want to stay
in touch with him by phone or Internet. He is on an RPG listserv we set
up for ourselves that was based on his long-term campaign; I don't know
if he'll stay on it, but I'm sure that my friends hope he will, and that
he'll continue to provide information about his AD&D gaming world
as he runs it for others, elsewhere.
Our friends have been
as supportive as possible. They have not, to my knowledge, chosen sides.
They have done their best to work around the end of my husband's campaign
and gently remove his characters from their campaigns. They have been
good about not pestering me to run my campaigns while I deal with the
inevitable stresses and heartaches of divorce. But neither have they avoided
talking about my husband when his name comes up in conversation; to some
extent, that would be worse, to pretend he never existed. He is a part
of all our lives and a part of our gaming group, and I'm sure that they
miss him, in their ways, as much as I do in mine.
Even when the paperwork
is final and our split is complete ... whether or not he still keeps up
active correspondence with the members of our gaming group ... he will
still be a part of its history and growth. His divorce from me does not
mean his divorce from our gaming group—from our friends. And I'm
willing to accept that.
originally written January 28, 2000
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