Risus: Thirty Years!

We're almost out of 2023!

This year has been the 30th Anniversary of Risus: The Anything RPG, the 20th Anniversary of The Risus Companion, and the 10th Anniversary of Risus 2nd Edition.

As I write this, we're at the end of December, and I feel like I should raise a glass to Risus before the year is done. I've kept quiet so far because I think it would be unseemly, nowadays, for me to parade the Risus name too much. But, 30, 20 and 10 years are worth taking a moment for, so I'll mark the triple-occasion with a story from the youngest of the three celebrants, the 2nd Ed:

It was a scary Colorado day, for the time had come to draw the Little Cartoon Bastards (the name my stick-figure "art" takes when the sticks pose specifically for Risus).

I always dreaded that part.

Not from dislike! I love the little idiots, and they represent the best of what Risus can be, but I can't draw. That's not some false-modesty thing. I hardcore can't draw. I can't-draw at a world-class level. I could fail to draw at the Olympics and win the can't-draw gold. Almost every Risus "illustration" took several drafts, and came from many false starts, and for every one that made the cut, there were six or seven that didn't, because they were worse.

But, the time had come, so I'd sit around doodling when I was hanging out with my players, hoping some of those doodles would work out.

Around that time, a Risus supporter I was following online got a guitar, and he was super happy about it, and his joy over it felt infectious, so I thought: "I should have a guitar-playing LCB for the new edition, as a shout-out to that gamer's new guitar!"

And I liked that idea almost too much? Like, I wasn't willing to let it go. I had a vibe in my mind and I wanted an LCB who would deliver that vibe: a triumphant vibe, a rock-and-roll-fantasy vibe. A happy LCB, shredding with joy.

But, see above. I cannot draw. So, it's a terrible, heartbreaking idea for me to develop artistic ambitions, no matter how humble.

I did something like 20 gods-forsaken drafts of guitar-playing stickmen. And they all suuuuuuucked.

I did many from pure imagination, and many from photographic reference. I searched the Web for classic images of triumphant guitar poses from the likes of Hendrix, Prince, Van Halen, Clapton, Page, Zappa, Buddy Frickin' Holly ... hoping that their moments of triumph could give me that triumphant vibe.

And if I could draw, that approach would have worked. I would have had the skill, the eye, the insight necessary to translate some of those moments into something sticklike.

But, see above. I cannot draw.

So, I was sad, I was adrift. I wanted a triumphant guitar guy. I couldn't let go of wanting that piece. But the chasm between my approach, and that desire, was blocking my path.

It took me a few weeks of beating my head against that wall before the tweety-birds circling my head got me a light bulb, out of pity.

It came to me when I was waking from a snooze, and I scooted to the computer to search for new references. This time, I was no longer searching for rock stars or guitar legends ... I was searching for people IMAGINING they were rock stars and guitar legends. I searched for pictures of people playing, not guitar, but AIR GUITAR.

Go ahead and try it. You'll see what I saw (well, ten years later, you'll see the equivalent of what I saw): that is the triumph I was craving. Not the reality of shredding guitar, but the fantasy of it, the love of it, the roleplay of it. The absolute frickiting nonsense of it. I wanted the joy of the daydreamer, and the air-guitar people are the people who GET that, and deliver it all the time, so I loaded my eyeballs with air-guitar triumphs and air-guitar dreams, and I stood, and I shredded some air of my own, because I knew this was was the missing piece that would snap the chasm shut, so I could stride across, as if I'd always known how.

I got it on the first (new) try. The little dude danced from my pen without further iteration. A triumphant doodle, by a guy who can't draw, of a triumphant performance, by a guy who can't play.

But we can pretend. Happy anniversary, little game (almost belated!), and here comes 2024.

May we all shred triumphant.

That's the Power of Love.

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For more about Risus, visit the Official Risus Page from Big Dice Games, and the "Risus Links" page on Risusiverse. "Risus: The Anything RPG" and "Little Cartoon Bastards" are trademarks of Dave LeCompte.