There is a certain expectation that adventurers live busy lives. Ruins are explored in a few days, clues lead to a week of travel, upon which they meet an important character… One thing leads to another and rarely does an adventure slow down. As the game progresses the stakes grow tall and the pursuit of victory become ever more urgent. One week you consider yourself lucky to cast aside a rusty blade, and the next you take on mythic beings using long forgotten arcane secrets.
Paradoxically, many old-school adventure games include charts and rules about aging. It is entirely possible that a game could follow the life of the young adventurer until eventually they succumb to old age and it’s many troubles. This is however exceptionally rare.
Aging is a fact of life, something that can develop into humble dignity or gnashing denial. Everything in our mundane existence flows like sand through the hourglass, turning into a quiet white noise easily forgotten in the back of your mind.
The rapid pace of adventurers stuck in an eternal youth deprives us of an important form of narrative not found in magic spells or slaying monsters. Specifically I am referring to the subtle growth of everyday experiences which combined produce something profound. How two people can become lifelong friends, how an infant can grow to be taller than their parents, or even how to say goodbye to those things you thought would last forever.
Recently I’ve been playing the video game Wildermyth. It is in essence a digital form of a high-fantasy tabletop adventure with a wide variety of randomization to keep every adventure unique. While the game has many merits, one specific thing stood out to me more than any other. At the end of each chapter, a substantial number of years pass. (Usually 11, hence the title of this post.)
The game treats you to brief glimpses into what the characters have accomplished during that time. They might open a business, get married – etc. Things which are distinctly unadventurous, at least in the context of high fantasy. Yet these mundane things provide the characters with a profound Humanity.
So I find myself asking – How do we bring that into a tabletop situation?
Over the next few weeks I intend to explore various works which explore the concept of time away from adventures, and discuss their merits and miseries in the pursuit of the wondrously mundane.