I had a similar experience while deployed back in ’07, and with our ship about to head out for prep work soon, I thought I’d share what my experiences were, and how shipboard life changes how we game a bit.
To begin, there are a shocking number of gamers in the military. They’re everywhere, crawling out of the woodwork. If you’re in the military, and haven’t found a group of guys to play with, you’re not trying very hard to find one.
When we first deployed, we didn’t have anywhere to play. Finding a storage room three decks down from where we worked, we would sit on boxes of paper and roll dice into box lids, playing Kobolds Ate my Baby, as well as a few sessions of Ravenloft.
When the people in the berthing above us kicked us out for being too noisy, we moved up to the mess decks, where people would pass by, stopping to say high, and generally distract everyone from the game. Besides, no one wants to do a voice while random people are crowding around. While on the mess decks, we played a little Star Wars, as well as some 3.5 Temple of Elemental Evil.
Finally, a guy in our department suggested we play in his shop after hours, when no one was around. He worked the night shift, so he would work while we played. It worked out really well, allowing us to play every Friday night at 8, finishing up around 10 or 11. We ran two Star Wars campaigns from there.
I had a big dice bag, so we never ran short on dice, and an external hard drive had circulated around the ship full of 100 gigs of various RPG books, so we had no shortage of RPGs.
Being out to sea, away from home and any way to get away really gave us the chance to delve into our characters. We would spend the rest of the week thinking about what we wanted to happen next, and I had plenty of time each evening to plan what was in store for my players the following Friday.
Some of the guys I played with out to sea have become life-long friends, cementing our friendship around the shared experience of RPGs.