Sunday, October 2, 2011

on and off the wagon

Today's been pretty busy, and now that I have a new dungeon filled with vegetable mold-men to torture the PCs with (I hope they don't get too cocky at 2nd level), it's time for a relaxing blog post about some of my own experiences with the roleplaying hobby.

I was first introduced to D&D by a kid on the bus to school. I can't even remember his name now. This was the beginning of 4th grade, which I think is when I started going to a different school, so I would have been just short of 10 years old. All this guy had was one six-sider and the most tenuous grasp on the rules; no books or anything. I recall being captured by gnolls and failing my d6 roll to escape - game over.

For some reason, I found this experience compelling enough to repeat. When my family moved to the next town, I found quite a few friends that knew about D&D. I got the Forgotten Realms boxed set for christmas, and for the next 7 years or so, all we did was play AD&D 2nd edition. Sure, we had a few rounds of Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer 40,000, but AD&D was the only roleplaying game on the map. It was all we had and we fucking loved it. I met some of my best friends in our middle-school lunchtime AD&D group.

Later on in high school I branched out. I started buying weird-ass old games at the used bookstore: Paranoia, a few Palladium books and some other things I don't recall, although I could never get anyone to play them with me. I got a copy of Champions from my aunt (and fuck did I ever love it). Somebody brought some White Wolf games to our lunch-hour group, and they blew our minds at the time.

Vampire and Werewolf I could take or leave, and Wraith I never bothered to play, but both Changeling and Mage had a feel that was unmatched in my experience. They were a total package, with production values a lot higher than I was used to. The artwork, the (at the time) out-there systems, the sidebars packed with obscure bits of flavor text, leaving you with more questions than answers (it's difficult to maintain this feel in actual play with real people, which is why our high school White Wolf games were totally gonzo). Through all this, we still played 2nd ed AD&D.

When 3rd edition came out, I thought just like my friends: bullshit. Those corporate weasels would never take any more of my hard-earned allowance! Until one day when I actually opened up the books and found a lot to like. Regularized XP tables, the new skill system (no more weapon proficiencies), and a more streamlined approach to rolling (no more bend bars/lift gates) all appealed to me. The clutter had been swept away; it was a new format, the art was different, there were new mechanics but it was still D&D.

It took me years to actually play it.

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