During the pursuit of my New Year's resolutions, I found a newly formed D&D Meetup group in my own backyard. I couldn't let this opportunity pass, so on Saturday I trundled across town and met up with six complete strangers and was quickly thrust into the world of 3rd edition, 3.5 specifically.
The intent of the initial meet up was to discuss such matters as what edition the group would play, who would be the DM, how often we'd meet, etc. The hostess was particularly welcoming, and as it turned out, had never actually played D&D before, ever. This was her introduction to the grand game that I love so much.
Three hours of banter and gaming chit-chat commenced after initial introductions had been made. On numerous occasions I made my gaming and D&D preferences known, but I also made it very clear that more than anything else, I was interested in meeting up with other local players and joining a regular campaign, regardless of edition.
I took the opportunity to correct many of the inaccuracies bandied about the group in regard to the game's history, and even explained the logic behind the “experience for treasure” aspect of older versions. More than a few times I had to ask for clarifications on certain modern terms and topics, but all in all I was able to keep up rather easily. I am after all a D&D player of three decades now.
One particular topic that made me really appreciate original D&D was alignment. Here was this group of mostly middle-aged veteran D&D players, and it seemed not one of them could agree on the subject. It reminded me of similar discussions back in the 1st edition days nearly thirty years ago, yet there I was listening to disagreements about alignment again. I added that in my AD&D games alignment didn’t play a big role, that it was rarely even a concern for any character other than Clerics or Paladins. You know I also took the opportunity to exclaim the merits of Law and Chaos, good guys and bad guys, and referee interpretations inherent in OD&D.
During the seemingly ceaseless back and forth on a topic which I feel should be pared down or entirely excised from the rules, I noticed once more that the hostess was quietly and politely listening. I attempted to remind everyone that we had a new player amongst us by saying that I felt we were neglecting her, and asking if she had any questions or comments. Nothing changed and the group dove in once more to discussing the finer points of D&D 3.5.
It was no surprise when the majority cast their vote with 3.5. I recognized fairly early that advocating the old school would get me nowhere fast, one other player suggested d20 Modern, and the hostess had no idea what we were talking about, so 3.5 it was. And I was fine with that. As long as I could roll some dice and kill some monsters, I was going to be a happy gamer again.
That is, until the next morning when I checked email and visited the Meetup page. Our hostess had already left the group. It’s no surprise really. This was information overload, culture shock, and intimidation all wrapped into one five hour event. So now we have a group of six players with no meeting site. It remains to be seen whether this prospective group ever actually gets going or not.
Something inside me wishes I had come prepared to run some sort of basic adventure. Perhaps then the eager to learn hostess would have been able to experience a much more hospitable atmosphere and a proper introduction to role playing. In retrospect this potential D&D player was never given a fair shot at learning our game. We should have been more considerate, after all this was not only the host for the initial meeting, but also the individual who had taken the time to set up and organize everything.
How steep is the 3.5 learning curve? Steep enough to chase off someone willing to not only create and pay for a new Meetup group, but to also open her home to a bunch of strangers for an evening.
I was going to finish this post with a collection of some of the more "interesting" comments I heard during the meeting, but in hindsight there was nothing said that wouldn’t surprise any of my readers. All in all it was a collection of enthusiastic, personable gamers, and I hope something more comes of this session. Who knows, if we can establish a new meeting place, my goal of expanding my face to face gaming circle might come to pass.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee