It is one of those mid-summer days, and my daughter is struggling to find something to do. After several rounds of “I’m bored” and my unsympathetic response (“Bored? I was bored once… in 1974!”), I put on my headphones and pretend I’m having a meeting so I can focus on work. A while later I go out to get some tea, and I find her with a bunch of papers and dice, making up a story using the dice to determine what would happen next. That seemed familiar! Something I had not thought seriously about for about two decades came to mind: Dungeons and Dragons. Let the rambling history begin…
I had started playing in high school. My friend Lance played D&D, told me about it, and loaned me one of the basic set red books to read. I was enthused about it, but for some reason nothing came of that other than a few drawings of dragons. Several months passed before we finally started playing, and this included a new kid at school named Chris (in fact, it may have been the third person that gave us the impetus to start).
The trio of us played for many years, with other friends and relations coming and going over the years. Chris enlisted in the military and was gone for several years, though the rest of us kept things going. It was a great day when Chris returned, not just to have him back in our games, but then he started DMing again and was also studying literature in college. The combination of that influence and the fantastic Judge’s Guild campaign materials made for some of the best D&D I ever played.
There are many things I could relate here, including the various campaign settings we used (including Judge’s Guild), my activities on the Internet and TSR’s legal threats, an alternative RPG system we started using, and probably other things I will remember at some point, but I will leave that for other posts.
But, by the late ’90s, our gaming sessions gradually became less frequent as life started intruding (girlfriends, wives, houses, career, etc). I can’t quite remember how our last session ended, but I’m sure we couldn’t figure out the next date and said we would stay in touch and come up with another date. That never happened. Soon after, I changed jobs, sold my house, moved to a distant city, and a whole lot of other things happened (some glimpses of this can be found way back in this blog). So it wasn’t so much a matter of putting away “childish things”, but rather all the non-childish things took over and began a long period of amnesia.
So, now we are back to the present and I’m thinking wistfully about D&D. Almost all of my gaming materials were lost long ago in one of my many moves. How can I get back into it? Might my daughter be interested? Can I locate Lance and Chris and renew our friendship, and perhaps gaming?
So this is probably the start of many writings from my odd perspective of having played AD&D back in the day, and now coming back to it and looking back on the management changes and 4 editions which happened in the meantime, much like the proverbial “unfrozen caveman”.
Here’s a short version of my first impressions: I am pleased to see what seems to be a total renaissance. The backwards handling of the internet and fan works in the 90’s seems to have been entirely reversed (with the core rules being freely available, with numerous fan works), the core materials seem to much higher quality than I have ever seen. Furthermore, it seems that the game is now being embraced by many outside of the geek culture and is enjoying a wide acceptance than I ever would have thought possible.
I could ramble on further, but instead, I’ll try to write on specific topics in the future; first on my list is TSR’s handling of the internet which directly affected me.