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The Mad Cleric: Perfect Encounters

I’ve been thinking a lot about my priorities lately.  Something about being a husband, a dad, a full-time employee, and somewhere in there a gamer… not to mention homebrewer.  Sometimes time feels a little more tight than I would like it to be.  So I’ve been asking questions about how I spend my time and energy.  Am I getting out of life what I’m putting in?  As I’ve been pondering these things, a friend recommended an ebook by Michael Hyatt called Creating Your Personal Life Plan.  While reading it, two statements hit me like a ton of bricks:

“My goal is to make every encounter I have with my friends a perfect moment—for them and for me.  To do this, you have to be intentional.”

“…a perfect moment is an experience with others when time stands still.  It is a time full of the present, when the past is left behind and the future is set aside.  It is a special time of focused attention and heightened awareness.  Interruptions and distractions are consciously excluded.  Cell phones are off.  Hearts are wide open.  All that matters is this moment—the people I am with and the conversation we are having now.”

Sometimes my gaming reflects the things going on in my life.  But in this circumstance, I realized that my life would be better off reflecting my gaming.  More specifically, in gaming, I put lots of thought in my encounters.  I am always hoping and working for perfect encounters—indeed, perfect moments!  Let’s think of some of those perfect moments and see what we can learn from them.

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Perfect Gaming Moments

Perhaps pitifully, the perfect moments I remember from gaming encounters were not perfect due to my own doing.  No, they were the result of other people throwing caution to the wind and doing something remarkably intentional, dangerous, cinematic, and memorable.  The first one that comes to mind is actually from an episode of potelbat YALP, in which I had the pleasure to participate.

Our heroes were fighting off a group of troopers in what was effectively an Imperial parking garage.  To finish off the battle, @xphile’s character leapt from an AT-ST walker, knife flashing in hand, so that he might pounce on the final trooper and take him out.  Why was that moment perfect?  It was perfect, because in that moment the character was single-minded and radically committed.  There is no turning back once you leap from the top of an AT-ST walker.  Like a base jumper, you’re committed once you leave your place.  There’s no room for worrying or second guessing.  You’re all in.  And that moment of total commitment still hangs in my memory.

A second perfect moment happened more recently in my gaming.  I was GMing another Star Wars RPG game, wherein an Imperial base was being attacked by a Rebel task force.  The players were somewhat-innocent bystanders while hellfire rained down around them.  At the climax of the session, the team’s NPC protocol droid was trapped inside a burning control tower.  As several PCs fled the building, one ran past them in the opposite direction—into the inferno to save the droid.  Why was that moment perfect?

Well for starters, I had just warned the players that going into that building would very likely result in the complete, irreversible death of their players.  And that possibility relied completely on the roll of the dice.  Yet this character set aside his safety and livelihood to save a faithful protocol droid that meant a lot to the group.  As I’ve mentioned before, true innovation invites real risk.  And in this case the risk was worth it.  Why?  Because in that moment, I thought, “Oh, wow!  This going to be awesome, no matter how it turns out!  Even if this character dies, it will be the most epic, astounding character death I’ve ever seen.”

Perfect moments in gaming happen when you go for the guts and the glory—when you push the envelope and commit 100%.  Quite realistically, to achieve perfect moments in gaming you have to decide that it’s OK if your character dies.  But how does this relate to real life?

Perfect Life Moments

DISCLAIMER: this article is not encouraging you to take up skydiving, drag-racing, or other activities that may harm life and limb.  Additionally, I don’t encourage you to save robots from burning buildings.  However, these gaming scenarios paint an interesting picture for us.  How could we start living this way in our relationships?

What if you started treating conversations with important friends and family as though it might be your last conversation?  How would you talk to them?  What would you talk about?  How would you remove distractions to try to make it a perfect moment?  What if you started treating your time like it was limited?  Because here’s the reality: your time is limited.  Maybe you have longer than a three hour gaming session, but it’s still important to spend your remaining time well.  The last thing you want to do is to get to the end of your life and realize, “Wow.  I had no perfect moments.  I was too busy to stop and be intentional with my life.”

So here’s what I want you to do.  Start planning your life just as well as you plan the encounters in your games.  Who are the important characters in your life?  And how do you want to relate to them?  What are the important goals  in your life?  And do you have a vision for achieving them?

Perfect moments don’t “just happen.”  They don’t in gaming and they don’t in life.  It takes real effort and thought to bring them about.  So make those perfect encounters happen!  Leave 110% on the tabletop and walk away pleased that you gave it your all.

Pax.

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