Converting the Spouse: An Ongoing Quest – Part 1

So my friends, I come to you in the very odd position of being married to a muggle. I don’t mean the non-magical kind, but rather the non-RPG-interested kind. I got married a couple years ago and my wife has never shown any interest in roleplaying games, or virtually anything geeky whatsoever. Actually, now that I think about it, she probably would have been one of the kids in high school that thought people like me were particularly weird (it’s odd how the heart works sometimes). I have, in the past, made attempts at remedying this OBVIOUS character flaw. Last summer, before I moved to Japan, the wife and I, attended several of the D&D 4e “Encounters”; that was a moderately good time, but my wife could never really get into it. She never really understood what was going on and the constant focus on combat-focused roleplaying simply didn’t work for her.

Now, I am unfortunately stuck in an even bigger pickle. Most of my former gaming group has now left Japan, also, with my son and wife now currently living with me again, in our very, very small Japanese style apartment, I have very little ability to bring anybody over to my place to game (and going anywhere else is pretty much out of the question as well). So, what is the answer to my pickle? How in the world will I ever get to play any roleplaying games ever again??

I think it is about time for another conversion attempt! Let the quest begin!!

This time, my plan of attack is going to have to be very, very different. Previous attempts at breaking the will of the muggle Spouse and pulling her into our realm of RPG-enthused have proved totally useless. I think, this is going to call for me to meet her on her level. I’m going to have to start thinking like a muggle. Time to finally put all of my psychology classes to work.

This really just comes down to getting to know the audience. My wife enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies, but she doesn’t really have that much interest in fantasy and magic and stuff of that nature. So, playing a hardcore high fantasy style game with her might be a very, very bad thing to do. In fact, apart from those films, I don’t really recall many genre films or TV series that I have been able to get her interested in. Probably the best that I have been able to manage is convincing her to watch a couple episodes of the most recent iteration of Dr. Who.

So, here are the other basic things I plan to try and play off of when running my next game with my wife.

1. She is Japanese.

Considering that my wife hails from near Tokyo, speaks primarily Japanese (and a little bit of English and German), and has a healthy knowledge about Japanese history, it makes sense that I might want to play a game that has more of an Asia-centric focus rather than a western one. The reasoning for me behind this decision is a matter of relating to her. Given my shabby Japanese, it might be very difficult to convey concepts based in a fantasy world that is entirely foreign to her, but… if I base our game in a world which is more familiar to her, things might be much easier.

I plan to capitalize on this fact by playing a game that is heavily influenced by Japanese society and history – Legend of the Five Rings. I love the game, it rocks. I also love the fact that the basic dice mechanic utilizes only one type of dice; this is going to make the system pretty easy to play with my wife who has trouble recognizing the difference between a d10,d12, and d20 sometimes.

2. She is very, very “girly”

My wife is very much a girly girl. She doesn’t like fighting. She doesn’t like being dirty. She doesn’t like bugs. She really, really hates bugs. She loves sweets. These are all things that I am going to have to consider when trying to play a game with her. Honestly, the biggest problem that I am seeing right now is that she has very little interest in playing a combat heavy game. In fact, I think she might not have any interesting in playing a game that features combat of any kind. This is potentially going to be a big problem since most of the RPG’s that I know out there feature combat in a major way.

I plan to adapt to this by having my wife play a character with a fairly high power level, so much so that things like minor combats are simply unnecessary. I will also reward her character through stuff like Gold (which she can use to buy cool, shiny, fashionable stuff) or just give her character sweets. Also, one of the coolest parts about L5R is that you can play a character that is not focused on fighting, but rather on other pursuits. We’ll definitely take this into account when creating characters. I’ll try to get her to play something in the Courtier area so that we don’t have to be mixed up in fighting all the time.

3. She LOVES cheesy, funny, romantic Korean Dramas

Yup. My wife loves some of the funkiest television that I know of. I have been pulled in once in a while, but most of the time I have a very hard time getting into the plots of most Korean Dramas. They are pretty far fetched and are really not much different that the super lengthy and ridiculous American soap operas. She loves them, taking 2 hours out of every day to catch her dramas in the afternoon. I might be able to capitalize on that mindset by building some equally ridiculous stories of my own.

I think based on the game system that we are playing with, and the type of character I am going to try to get her to play, this type of game should come along pretty easily. If I can manage to set the game in some type of Imperial Court setting, we could probably develop some really interesting Court based plots which don’t involve her and her characters running rampant through the forest stabbing a bunch of ninjas in the face all the time.

Well, that about covers it for my thought process going into this quest. Next time, I’ll go over how we went through character creation and how my wife reacted to the proposal of our new campaign. Stay tuned!