Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pining For The Never Had and The Barely Recollected

I got into DnD around the time of 2nd Edition AD&D, at the point that I believe is referred to as 2.5 Edition, when all that Skills and Powers stuff started coming out. That was when I got into the game, back in 1994. I've never played Basic, Expert, 1st Edition, none of my players played a Halfling or Dwarf as a class. I never even knew what the Little Brown Books were until I saw this on a blog I really like to read. Prior to that picture, because there was a 1 in it, I thought 1st Edition AD&D was all there was before 2nd Edition AD&D. Well, aside from Basic, that is. But I thought Basic was the same thing as Dungeons & Dragons and had no idea that Expert existed or there was such a thing as a blue or red box or anything. 

I dunno if you know this about me, but I love DnD. My morning blogroll consists of checking roughly twenty DnD blogs for content. Interestingly enough, a bunch of those are so called "old school" blogs where the authors play and talk about systems like Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardy, and so on. The actual tally is as follows:
  • Fourth Edition: 7
  • Pathfinder/3.5: 4
  • Old School/Retro-Clone: 9
  • Other: 1, I don't rightly know what to call Your Dungeon Is Suck.
The fact that I read all these "old school" blogs and frequently peruse all these old school gaming clone pdfs on my laptop wouldn't be odd, except that I never played those games. I'm not nostalgic for the yesteryears and simplicity of the Little Brown Books, you know? I have copies of them, now, but I read them and there isn't that gut reaction of nostalgia for them that makes me yearn for things. 

However, when I read stuff about how awesome it was back in the day and how the player played the game, not their stats, and so on, I feel something. I peruse the shitty art and horrific layouts of the 1st Edition AD&D books, and I feel something. It can't be nostalgia, because I don't know those things, I wasn't there when that stuff came out. There wasn't a time when I played and loved them. I feel the same way when I page through my OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord pdfs. Something in me responds to these books and these rules, and I yearn for them. 

I'm not sure what any of this means. I mean, I look at my Pathfinder books and all the options and the high page counts and the endless selection of feats, and I giggle with joy. I love Pathfinder so much, great system, great game, and I love playing it. However, there is some strange alchemy within the rules and style of play of these older editions and their clones, some if it affects me and speaks to me in a fashion I cannot ignore. 

When I hear people talk about dungeons as a mythic supernatural underworld and how to build a megadungeon, which is essentially a campaign setting where the players rarely see the light of day, it speaks to a part of me. I yearn for those sorts of things. I yearn for my players to play the game without complete reliance on their d20 to do the work of searching a room for them. I yearn for them to interact with the game world, not their character sheets. Something inside me is drawn to the 1st Edition AD&D books and I don't know how long I can resist exploring this desire. ::sigh::

On a side note, I find it kind of odd that I read seven 4th Edition blogs and nine old school blogs, and only four Pathfinder blogs. Mind you, one of those Pathfinder blogs is actually just a general d20 blog and is the author no longer posts and is now merely a collection of articles with no new content. I don't play 4th Edition (right now) or Labyrinth Lord or 1st Edition, or anything of that sort, but I read these blogs literally every day. Very little of what the authors say is specifically relevant to my games, but I find them interesting and informative all the same. These aren't like my blog either, these guys are changing the game and writing articles about concepts and history of the industry and that kind of thing. Real interesting material that only occasionally touches on the actual campaigns they are playing and what sort of infuriating thing their players are doing. These are good blogs with good product that I find to be riveting reading material, material that has no relation whatsoever to my game. 

I wonder if perhaps it is time to admit that I might be just a little bit of an "old school" gamer at heart...

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