Friday, November 28, 2008

Coattails 2

I’m doing it again; riding on the coattails of the effusive author of Grognardia. Inspired by more ruminations on the Dungeons and Hobbits post, I want to speak to fantasy influences and D&D.

I took up D&D at age 12. At that time, I had read relatively little in the way of fantasy books. I remember that my fantasy achievements at that time included C.S. Lewis, de Camp and Pratt, and Lewis Carroll. I had not yet tackled Tolkien nor Howard nor Lovecraft.

I had, though, played more than my fair share of Avalon Hill and SPI games thanks to my older brother. I had no idea what the term ‘pulp’ meant; nor that there was even such a term. I was actually introduced to Tolkien via other D&D players!

All I know was that I had stumbled upon a game that offered creative potential and no boundaries. I think that discovering the game in this order of events made me perpetually 'old-school'.

To me, it's OK that a game of D&D has 'quirks' that may not seem realistic or make sense, but are born of a certain wargamer mentality. For example, the fact that all doors are stuck or locked for PC's, but open without effort for all Monsters. That is a wargamer ideal, and it makes sense to me, a former wargamer who doesn't fret over verisimilitude.

D&D, as originally conceived, was not bogged down by concerns of realism. It was a ‘game’ in the true sense of the word. The concept of D&D was totally foreign and original. It was a game in which a referee created and directed a world designed to challenge the other gamers. Over the course of multiple sessions, those players took their characters to greater heights and accomplishments; rewards that reflected a players competency and resourcefulness.

Perhaps this is why I have come full circle to OD&D. It is first and foremost a game. It doesn’t get bogged down in realism. Game balance and challenges are more of a concern than creating realism.

The notion of realism came later. BUT, the concept was born with D&D.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

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