All the schedule-juggling for this week’s Conquest of the Empire session due in part to the fact that Dragon’s Lair closes at midnight some days and nine o’clock at others reminded me of a now-closed game store in Knoxville, TN, where I used to hang out.
It was called The Adventurer’s Inn. Technically, legally, it was a store. It had a rack of role-playing material, shelves of CCGs and card sleeves, a handful of miniatures for Battletech, dice, candy bars, and a fridge full of soda. As a store, it sucked. In reality, The Inn was a gaming club. As a gaming club, it rocked. Dues were ten bucks a month, and coupled with sales of soda and snacks, were the primary way The Inn paid the rent and electricity bill every month. The owners weren’t trying to make any money, they just wanted a place to hang out with their gaming buddies – and they had a lot of gaming buddies. Running the place as a club also let them kick out anyone they didn’t particularly care for, but it wasn’t a power they used often. If you were a gamer, you were welcome. At its peak, there were about fifty dues-paying members.
The Inn had an 8 x 8 felt-covered table for miniatures games, plus terrain. It had a pair of 4 x 4 felt-covered tables for boardgames. There was one of those long fold-out tables for role-playing games. On a shelf in one corner was a selection of boardgames for general use. It had nasty mis-matched carpet and smelled like a musty basement. The best feature The Inn had, however, was its schedule. It opened sometime in the late afternoon, and closed around at around four to six in the morning, depending on how long people kept playing. It was staffed by volunteers. More than once I left after a long night gaming and winced at the harsh light of the morning sun and the hard truth that I had class in two hours.
I played my first games of Settlers of Catan, Iron Dragon, Cosmic Encounter, and multiplayer Magic at The Inn. At one point, I was playing in three separate weekly D&D games. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go back to gaming every single night and skipping sleep at least once a week. I’m not as young or as free as I was then. But part of me misses that grungy little hole-in–the-wall.