Friday, February 29, 2008

Why 'Sham's Grog'?

Well, as you can see this is my blog within which I will provide text fueled ideas about D&D and other games. My first post, which in parts reads like semi-random musings, kind of describes a bit about me and my D&D history, and my views on D&D. Semi-random musings are kind of standard fare in my blogs, I just start typing and away we go. Anyhow, the title ‘Sham’s Grog’ was going to be ‘Sham’s Blog‘, but I wanted to incorporate the term Grognard. I just liked the sound of Sham’s Grog. So, yes, Grog in this title refers to the old wargaming term, Grognard. Explained below at this link:

“Grognard: a soldier of Napoleons' Old Guard; a veteran soldier; grumbler (French) - Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed
Grognard: (slang) an experienced wargamer - John Young, Strategy & Tactics magazine.”

My interpretation of the term, as it is used in D&D circles, is simply an old school player, who prefers the original versions of the game. It doesn’t mean a ‘by the book’ hard line player or rules lawyer, just someone, who perhaps for nostalgia’s sake, prefers the older versions. To interpret it further, one can see that it is indeed an excellent choice of terminology by Mr. Young.

Other interpretations of the term are out there as well, some say it’s synonymous with hard core, serious, or just old school. I prefer the probably intended meaning, that these players were indeed like the real Grognards…’old guard’, veteran, grumblers.

I’m certainly a member of the ‘old guard’ of D&D, a veteran of D&D from the 70s, and, according to my lovely Wife, a grumbler. I’m fairly grumble-some in regard to quite a number of things, not just newer versions of D&D.


My past games and my ever changing views of D&D will comprise the bulk of these posts, as well as random ideas I will share here and possibly incorporate in future house rules or supplemental additions to D&D.

If you had the intestinal fortitude to actually read that four page first post then you already know my current opinion of D&D. In a nut shell, I view D&D as a collection of ideas and gaming conventions (so eloquently shared with the gaming community back in the 70’s by Gygax and Arneson), and not so much as a rule book, but a guideline on how you too can host your very own fantasy campaigns. I view the later supplements as just that, collections of ideas shared with the D&D community to provide ideas for their own campaigns, ideas that were developed by Gygax and Arneson for their very own campaigns…again, not rules, but ideas.

With this mind set, one can see how David Hargrave approached Arduin. I look at all of those eight little books as fantasy supplements as well. Sure, Hargrave tried his hand at a later ‘complete Arduin’ rule system. A system which I never even tried to sort out. Rather, we just enjoyed taking the various ideas from Hargrave and tossing them into our own D&D worlds. Often with some very humorous and memorable results. At one point, I did indeed begin an Arduin campaign, but it was more of a novelty than anything else.

So, to me, Grognard in D&D terms doesn’t mean hard core, or serious, or by the book. These wargaming analogies don’t work for my idea of what Gygax and Arneson intended. To me a D&D Grognard is simply someone who views the game as the authors intended, a set of ideas to inspire one’s own version of a fantasy campaign world, with optional rules that were open to interpretation. It was specifically designed for ‘home brewing’.

Here’s another link that will help illuminate my view on D&D, where I’m coming from and what I loved about D&D the way it was intended to be played:

Some snipped, as posted by ‘Old Geezer’ at the above link.

“There's a big, fat, juicy, stinking misconception…that D&D is somehow 'misdesigned' because some things are missing. This is, quite simply, not true. OD&D, and AD&D Ist ed, were deliberately designed with large amounts not covered. That is because - wait for it - MAKING THINGS UP WAS CONSIDERED TO BE A MAJOR, PERHAPS EVEN *THE* MAJOR, FUN OF BEING A DM!!!!! There are no rules for a half-succubus/half man-eating trout PC because MAKING UP THE RULES WOULD BE FUN! Please note that this is not mere conjecture on my part -- I maintained a frequent correspondence with Gary Gygax, Rob Kuntz, Dave Arneson, and a few others at TSR until the early 80s. And this very sort of thing was a frequent subject of discussion -- why, we wondered, did people want questions answered when making up the answers was the fun part of the game? Why did people not want to have fun? The answer, of course, is that it's a different hobby. Building a world and the rules to play in it is a very different experience from playing in someone else's fully developed world and rules.”

This then is my jumping off point for Sham’s Grog.


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