Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gaming as an Ex-Pat Part 3 (Final)

Here it is, the final post I made on Facebook, when asked by an acquaintance to describe how different it is trying to play/run games in Korea compared to back home. Yeah, I blathered on for a long time before actually answering her question. She dug it, though, and then wanted to take a look at Flying Swordsmen, so I consider that a win.

I arrived in Korea and in less than a month was a new father (my wife wanted to be close to her family when she gave birth, and she's a Busan native). So for that first year or so, I didn't get any gaming in. Soon, though, I met some guys named Josh, Alex, Pat and Steve who were interested in playing board games. We'd meet once a week or once every two weeks in Seomyeon to game. After a year or so, we started occasionally playing RPGs instead of board games. A few more people were interested, so we ended up with more players including a few Koreans, and running several short campaigns.

I ran Classic D&D. Josh ran 3E. Dave tried to get a d20 Conan game going, but it didn't gel. Alex tried the same with RIFTS. Eventually Pat got the 4E books, so we gave that a try. Josh picked up the 4E version of Gamma World, and we gave that a try.

During this time, I was working on my Dragon Fist retro-clone, which I titled Flying Swordsmen. Eventually I had it ready, so we played some Flying Swordsmen too. It's an odd feeling to run your own game at first. I felt this pressure to "get it right" since it was my own game. Presidents of the Apocalypse was just this little goofy game where everyone tried to be as silly as possible, but Flying Swordsmen tries to emulate Chinese wuxia fantasy martial arts using essentially D&D rules. I think I pulled it off well, but there were a few little things about it that bugged me (mostly because it was a retro-clone copying another game, so some design choices were out of my hands).

Then, as happens in ex-pat circles, people moved away. New people came in. I found myself next in a Pathfinder group run by a guy named Brian, along with one or two other people from the first group. Around the same time, Pat and Bill were putting together the Busan Bored Gamers group, so I feel like that group is a direct descendant of our Seomyeon group.

When the PF game finally finished, I ended up without a face-to-face group to play with, but through Google+ Hangouts (popular with gamers, especially the OSR), I ended up in a group run by Justin in Pohang. Thanks to the power of the internet, we've got members in other places besides Korea. A few Aussies played early on, and a Scottish guy has been a regular in our various G+ games ever since. Justin ran Labyrinth Lord (BX D&D clone) for a long time, then tried Stars Without Number (BX D&D rules for sci-fi gaming) for a while.

I ran a few Classic D&D games. Jeremy ran a wide variety of his home-brewed games he was trying out. Dean started a 4E game, which attracted a few different players, who aren't really into the OSR stuff. Now Dean's game is 5E, and still going strong. We've tried a few other things here and there over the years, too.

Because Flying Swordsmen got good reviews but I wasn't satisfied with it, I started working on my current project, Chanbara (fantasy feudal Japan set to basic D&D rules). I've been play-testing it now and then with this online group, and it seems to hold up pretty well. I'm hoping to release the game soon (real world concerns have delayed it, though).

As far as gaming supplies, I haven't really found much I need to buy anymore. I've got tons of dice and minis. Rulebooks can be downloaded in pdf form or ordered from Amazon (and sometimes Whatthebook). Since most of my gaming takes place online, there's not a lot of need for extra stuff. Also, I'm primarily a player instead of primarily a DM these days, which also reduces my need for stuff. All those minis I collected in Japan are locked in a cabinet where my baby can't get to them.

In a few years, though, I plan to be gaming with my boys, and putting all those gaming supplies I don't use now to good use!


  1. I'm not sure how to contact you otherwise, so check out my thoughts on what a 5th edition Flying Swordsmen/Dragon Fist would look like. I quite like it.

  2. Awesome! That looks like a nice, and simple, way to port the stunt dice/stunt mechanic to 5E.

    Thanks for sharing that. Have you tried it out in play yet?

    1. Not as such! I wouldn't even call this a first draft, just a high concept.