Running scared

Last night, Sean told me he was unhappy to read over at the AMRN that I wouldn’t be participating in the new game.

“Why would I play?” I said instantly and offhandedly. “I don’t want to play. And besides, if I did play, I couldn’t play with you.”

Take notes, kids; this is the sort of thing you do not say to the person you love.

I fumbled through a lame explanation and Sean left the room. I don’t know if he was upset or not, because our computers are in different rooms, so he’s always leaving the room to get back to his game. But it finally occurred to me that I hadn’t properly discussed the matter with him, and that I should do so as soon as possible.

When Sean and I started playing together on the AMRN, we had only been dating for a little over a year. And frankly, I didn’t want the game to come between us. It was just a game. Sure, it was fun, but it wasn’t worth arguing over.

So I did things. I compromised my opinions. I sold out my other friends in the game. I destroyed continuity. I refused to challenge Sean’s authority, except for one notable instance in which I allowed him to smack my character down for it. Most of my protests were passive-aggressive, internalized, only emerging through the thoughts of one of my characters, and nothing came of them.

One of the best writers I ever had the pleasure of knowing quit the game while I was GMing it, and it’s pretty obvious that it was because of my inability to stand up to Sean.

Of course, my submissive, Sean-promoting playing style didn’t make Sean happy, either. Especially the time I used a highly powerful character to deus ex one of his characters out of his own death. It cheapened the scene, the characters, and the plot as a whole.

I don’t want to go back to those days.

Sure, we’d only been together a year when I started playing, and I’m a different person now, and blah blah blah. But I kept up the same MO for my entire career at the AMRN. When I played with other people, I managed to (mostly) be objective and fair. When I played with Sean, I was too afraid to rock the boat to do anything memorable.

I’m afraid that if we tried it again, it would either result in the same thing, or it would adversely affect our relationship. Because to be honest, I often disagreed with Sean about the game. I was interested in drama and character development. He was interested in those things, too, but he wasn’t willing to bend any rules for them. I don’t want to spend my time being mad at Sean for going against some plot tangent I’ve devised, or for punishing my characters for being in character.

And I don’t know enough about the rules of roleplaying systems or the technology of Macross to be able to do anything about it myself. I’m essentially at his mercy…which is another reason why I usually went along with whatever he said. After all, he knew better than me, right?

I don’t want to enter a situation in which I’m at a disadvantage. I don’t want to enter a situation that encourages me to behave the way I did before.

Yes, there are times when I feel a yearning to play again. But it’s never been strong enough to overcome my fear.