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October 11, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Gabe Ivan got hooked on role-playing games at age 13. He craved the adventure, and he loved that they made him feel like a kid again. Years later, he began designing them. The latest installment of the Columbia resident’s role-playing game, Luchador: Disciples of the North, was released in August.
Inspired by old Mexican wrestling movies and alternative superhero comic books, Luchador, like most role-playing verse, was born out of a desire to flee the evil lurking in the shadows of reality. Players, known as Luchadors, create new identities as masked vigilantes, enter an imaginary world lost to tyranny and corruption and use dice to combat the vampire business executives, animated evil trees, trolls and jarred brains in this tale of rivalry.
Seem a little manic? That’s exactly what Ivan intended.
“No one is supposed to question why masked Mexican wrestlers fight monsters; they just do,” he says. “Why wouldn’t they? Who else is going to do it?”
Ivan describes role-playing games as storytelling with rules. To participate in the role-playing subculture, all a player needs is a game book, a keen sense of storytelling and an imagination. A new world is created through readings in the book around a group of friends. A throw of the dice decides each player’s fate.
Although Luchador’s plot seems far from rational, the book’s publisher, Casey Clark of Spartacus Publishing, believes what makes this game so appealing is the way in which the players transform into character so vividly, choose their own routes and navigate the adventures themselves.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, but who you want to be,” Clark says. “Unlike a movie or video game, you are actively engaging a story. Your fingerprints can be seen and felt on the story as it develops.”
The typical demographic for role-playing games is males ages 18 to 30. However, an increasing number of female players, affectionately called “unicorns” because of their rareness, have picked up the game.
So, become one with your alter ego as a masked Mexican wrestler on a mission to conquer evil by crossing the threshold from reality to a larger-than-life fantasy.
As Clark points out, if someone had the choice, would he or she rather play a 50-year-old accountant or a 21-year-old Elvin sorcerer? Leave the financial statements at home; we’re going troll hunting.