Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Hi, I'm Adam--or that's my nickname, in any case.

I'm an RPG player and DM/GM. I started back in 6th grade, 1979, in suburban Detroit. It started with a friend, Matt, who pulled out a tiny map drawn on what was probably a 3"x 5" sheet of paper and said, "Want to play Dungeons & Dragons?" I hadn't heard about James Dallas Egbert yet, but someone else said that if you played the game, you'd go crazy. I didn't believe it; still, there was a bit of the appeal of the forbidden to it, even though none of our teachers had any comment about it at the time. And Matt was funny and a little hyperactive, so he was always fun to be around.

Other kids played first. This wasn't a group experience--you had to wait your turn to play D&D, the way he played it. So one kid played and we all watched and listened. Matt started and said "You're a guy, and you have a sword and some arrows and..." then he rattled off a short list of things like torches, oil, and rope. The map he'd drawn was a simple little maze with some larger areas that represented rooms, and the object was to get out. I could see the map and it wasn't that hard to trace the routes, but those rooms, he said, had monsters, and you had to fight them to get out.

He didn't use dice; he simply explained what kind of monster was there (I recall gray ooze being a favorite of his), and someone said what action he too, and Matt said if it worked. More like a Zork-style text adventure than an RPG, but we didn't know better until my friend Bob got the Holmes Basic D&D set.

After that came AD&D, and RuneQuest, and Traveller, and Tunnels and Trolls, and a host of other games. I gamed pretty heavily for about four years, but gaming tapered off when I turned fifteen. Why, you say? I don't rightly know, but other things (work, school, girls) took up a lot of my time, and I put the books away. In the next twenty years I played maybe five games; and somewhere, in the dozen or so times I moved in that interval, much of my game materials was lost.

But I got back into it when I moved out West. In 2003, a colleague of mine who knew I liked Fantasy and Sci-Fi turned the topic of converstation to RPGs one day. He played a bunch of White Wolk stuff, including Vampire: the Masquerade and Aberrant, and I joined in on a few games. I won't say much about that, other than to say that dice pool mechanics were interesting, and it was fun to roll dice. But I really wanted to play D&D. 3.5 was out, and I used an Amazon gift certificate to buy the slipcased set, and started to put together a campaign that had been knocking around in the back of my mind for, oh, ten years or so--more on that another time. I convinced some of the White Wolf crowd to come back to d20, and we had some good times. When 4th edition came around, one of them bought it...I borrowed the books, took a look at them, and the best thing I can say about them is, they're not my cup of tea. (Not that I drink tea, for that matter.)

Things happened. Gary Gygax passed away. James Maliszewski started his inimitable Grognardia . The retro-clone wave started gathering momentum, and the OSR was born, as coherent a group as Occupy Wall Street (with all the good and bad that that connotes). I discovered that I liked the earlier system more than 3.5 or Pathfinder (which I still run), for reasons that I'll go into later. I bought used copies of the 1st Edition AD&D books, as well as Castles & Crusades, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and the freely-downloadable stuff like Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord. I'm running two games now, a Pathfinder game set in a land I call Mellorande, and, for lack of a better term, an OSR game loosely based on  Ben Robbins's Western Marches.

I'm blogging because I'd like to talk about some old-school stuff...nuts and bolts stuff like wandering monster tables, adjudicating combat stunts, and how powerful or common magic items should be. I hope to share ideas (polite terminology for mooching off of creative people), share experiences, and hopefully not offend too many people in the process. So if you see something you like on my blog, let me know!


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