Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The Why Of It All
All this talk of an old school renaissance and what it might mean in the broader scope of the RPG community has brought up many familiar issues that remind me why the genre is so segmented. I began to reflect a bit on my own theories and beliefs concerning D&D, and how exactly I came to be where I am today. I consider myself a Neo-Grognard. In other words, I worship at the altar of OD&D, but I tinker around with the rules quite a bit, and home brew to no end.
As I wrote in my first post here at the Grog ‘n Blog, I came to an epiphany several months back that shattered my own belief that I was an avid AD&D player. I never was. I was playing OD&D in spirit all these years, and was under the misconception that it was AD&D. It’s a realization that many of my fellow D&D fans have come to over the years, now that OD&D itself is more readily available. Many D&D players, myself included, have now discovered that collected wisdom of real OD&D players made possible by the internet.
I had all of the little OD&D books in my collection at one time or another in the past, but loaned them out, regrettably. I never bothered to read them until this year, after I got the PDF’s. Back in the 80’s, I knew all I needed was the three volume hard cover AD&D books, paper, pencil, and my creativity. That fueled my campaigns.
It wasn’t until this year that, in retrospect, I realized I didn’t actually need those hard covers at all. I had been using the wrong tool-kit to make my own games. It was like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders when I discovered that the OD&D tool-kit was what I should have been using all along. It’s simply better for my approach to gaming. Easier to build upon, and much less cumbersome. AD&D is downright unwieldy in comparison.
Can one make AD&D work for rules tinkering and heavy home brewing? Sure. I did so for nearly 30 years. I’m still kicking myself for not reading and taking the time to decipher the LBB back when I really could have made them work for me. Perhaps the timing was never right for me, until now. It was nearly impossible to do anything BUT play AD&D in the 80’s.
I wonder if it’s a maturity thing, a nostalgia thing, or just a personal thing. Those little brown books always held a certain mystery for me. I never really understood them back then. Maybe I didn’t want to, but now when I see them, they just do something for me. Realizing that they are so malleable has attracted me, too. So, it’s a bit of nostalgia, and a bit of a personal thing, I suppose. I can’t say that it’s a maturity thing, really.
I will never, ever, decry AD&D. I still absolutely without reservation love those three books. From a purely nostalgic view, those ARE D&D to me. I’ve said it before, but the DMG by Mr. Gygax is still my favorite RPG book of all time. Bar none. If my old gaming crew could not embrace OD&D the way I have, we’d be whipping out those AD&D books in a heartbeat and using them. Although, I just wouldn’t tell them that, in fact, they were playing OD&D and just didn’t realize it yet. And maybe they never would. That would be just fine with this ‘Dungeon Master’.
So, what exactly do I like so much about OD&D, anyway? Why do I think others don’t share my appreciation of the LBB? How would I go about sharing my enthusiasm with others?
Why OD&D, part 1
Why OD&D, part 2
Why OD&D, part 3
Why OD&D, part 4
~Sham, Quixotic Referee