If I’m going to be talking about my view of D&D and what it is that I’m trying to recapture, it’s probably be best if I revealed where I’m coming from. This gives you an idea of my experiences with the game during my formative years, as well as a point with which to compare your own. After all, D&D is a game where experience plays a very important part in defining your character.
I started with the Holmes version, thanks to a cousin of mine who conned me into running an entire party of adventurers through a dungeon he wrote. I was either 8 or 9 years old. Needless to say, it was one hell of an introduction to the game. Nonetheless, the gaming bug bit me hard.
The first set of rules I actually owned was the Moldvay Basic set. That would see me through the first couple of years before I discovered the AD&D books. The concept of elves being able to be more than, well elves, blew my preadolescent mind, and thanks to a friend’s older brother, I was soon running a series of thieves and monks through his game. Many died horribly.
By accepted standards (or as close as an accepted standard exists), this rules me out as being a true grognard. That’s fine. I’m not huge on labels. I do share similar experiences with the true “old guard” though, and identify a lot with what’s being posted and discussed by them. I was never a fanatical wargamer, but I did have my experiences with the chit-and-hex games like “Sniper!”, a few other WWII titles whose names escape me these many years later, and even a go around with “Outdoor Survival.”
Soon after my Moldvay set was given to me, I got a copy of Gamma World (1st edition) as a Christmas present. The complete gonzo nature of that game made it an early love of mine. To this day, all you have to do to sell me on a game, book, or movie is mention it’s “post-apocalyptic.” You’ve got me.
Post Moldvay, AD&D and Gamma world was the usual gamut of TSR’s other titles. I played Top Secret, Star Frontiers, Marvel Super Heroes and even their Indiana Jones RPG. But they were mere dalliances on a hot summer night, never replacing my first loves of D&D and Gamma World.
In high school, I ran a steady AD&D campaign with a group of seven players for a couple years. It was a Forgotten Realms setting game, something that I’m not quite proud of, but not nearly as ashamed of as some people would like. I’d play a little Star Wars on the side and kept active as a player in an AD&D campaign with revolving DMs who were several years older than me.
My college years introduced me to White Wolf’s various World of Darkness games, and being the punk-rocker (yes I am) that I was, I embraced Vampire (no pun intended). I would run a steady V:tM game through college, and dabbled in playing Werewolf and Mage, but neither of those titles really did it for me. When Wraith: the Oblivion was released, I was again astounded about what one could do with a role-playing game. Wraith still has a place in my heart, being what I think was perhaps the best of the original five White Wolf titles once you “got it.” Which a lot of people didn’t, dooming it to the Underworld from which it came.
I continued on with White Wolf’s experiments in role-playing, namely the Live-Action version of Vampire, which is again something that I’m not quite proud of, but not as ashamed as some would have me.
In my last years of college I kind of drifted out of the scene. I’d still talk about the games and make notes and come up with great ideas for stories, but I never played or ran a game. Other things occupied my attention, and gaming would have to take a backseat for several years.
Since that time, I’ve played in a few one-shot games and short-lived campaigns. Over the past year, my life’s taken a few turns that has brought me back to the hobby. In two weeks, the gaming group I’ve been in will celebrate a year of steady playing in the same campaign, with the same characters (well, almost the same. There was an incident with some called lightning, a few flasks of oil and a magic-user who suddenly canceled his subscription to Life magazine). In addition, I’ve discovered a local Friendly Neighborhood Hobby Shop that has an extensive collection of 1st and 2nd edition AD&D stuff. I’ve become a semi-regular there and the owner’s hinted a few times that if SOMEONE was to start up an AD&D game, he knows more than a few old gamers would be interested.
So here I am. Now you have an idea of where I’m coming from and what has formed my style and attitudes regarding the game. Let’s start walking from here and see if I can remember the path back to where it all started, shall we?