Friday, 18 March 2011

Snapshot arrives ... the birth of Evil DM?

It was Christmas morning, frost coated the inside of my bedroom window and the air literally froze you to the core.  Now you must bear in mind, this is a time when the family home I lived and grew up in did not have central heating, no double glazing, a fireplace in each bedroom, nor did we have a phone - and yes, our television was black & white, with access to three channels only.  That's the way it was.  But I digress.

With steaming breath, I peeled back the ten or so blankets pinning me to the bed to the accompaniment of a slapping, gurgling thud, as a stone cold water bottle falls from the release of blankets.  But to be honest, I'm all focused on the wrapped parcels waiting for me under the tree in the front room of our house.

*A little information regarding 'the front room': it was a 'special' room - a room kept for special occasions, for example, family gatherings like Christmas, but never to be used for any other purpose (although I do remember being locked out as a child when my father and brother were glueing together an Airfix 'Flying Fortress' model, much to my frustration and thumping on said door - although I do recall eventually getting my hands on said model, and oh, how it broke apart).*

I always loved the smell of that room, the air cold and slightly damp mingled with the pine needle smell of the tree, the citrus aroma of satsumas and tangerines (only ever bought at Christmas, along with cartons of dates bearing the drawing of a desert landscape and camels.  I was warned, on pain of the slipper, NOT to touch anything in that room until Christmas day itself!), and now being of a more 'responsible' age I was trusted to be in the room alone.  Dutifully I lit the gas fire and waited for the rest of the family to awaken.  The hours crawled around the clock on the mantlepiece, but in fact it was most likely no more than half an hour that I waited, my eyes greedily locked on the brightly wrapped presents, all of which I had mentally memorized as to which were mine - secret late night trips into the front room were required, and necessary, in order to establish the following:

Copyright © 2011 Mark Kelly
A) Which were my presents.
B) How many.
C) How big.
D) Who from.

My only thoughts were for one present and one present alone: 'Snapshot'.  John, my big brother, was good to his word.  The moment finally arrived.  The family sat in the front room and one of my sisters doled out the presents.  Amongst the 'coming of age' style presents like aftershave and deodorant (personally, I wasn't blessed with a full face of hair, nor, to my knowledge, did I smell repulsive?), was the thing I wanted most badly.  Snapshot!

To the right is the original game box cover, the artwork of which made my imagination thrum with excited anticipation of all the spaceship combat and boarding actions that would take place.
Information given on the back cover was just tantalisingly enough to make me want to rip open the cover and get my grubby little hands on the contents - and that space-suited guy just added fuel to my imagined fire.

I think the word 'disappointed' would not adequately cover my reaction the very first moment I laid the contents out on my bed.  Six-sided, white dice rattled about inside the box, each roughly 1cm square (or half an inch if you still use imperial) - great!  Booklets, containing tables, numbers, and rule after rule - oh, and there were the ship plans.  In total I was gutted.  An imagination can be a cruel thing, a double-edged sword, if you will.  You may think I was being ungrateful.  But that isn't the case.  It was just that my imagination had hoodwinked me into believing the game would be something totally different.  But what it did make me realise, was the fact I was entering a different league of gaming.  Long gone were the days of Monopoly, Ghost Train, Haunted House and that bloody infuriating Mouse Trap.

I was now on the path of something far more reaching, something that would literally reshape my way of thinking and moulding my imagination into a device for creating a plethora of worlds, populated by myriad of peoples and creatures alike.  My very own universe in which I welcomed my closest friends to travel through, experience and mould for their own pleasure.

Little did I know on that cold Christmas day that the seeds of the 'Evil DM' had been sown and were already beginning to grow.  I needed more.  My mission was clear - I needed more material for this 'Traveller' universe if I was going to truly be 'the master'.

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