The Old days!

Grumpy Old Man

Before computer graphic laiden MMO’s and Muds, there was Dungeon and Dragons.

When I was 12, I got a Christmas gift from my Uncle Mike in the mail. At the time, I had no idea how it would change the way I look at games. It was one of the original Advanced Dungeon and Dragons box sets. It had a few small booklets, dice and no decent instructions. I had no clue what it was or how it was to be played. None of my friends had the game, which made it hard to figure out. I asked my Dad if he could help, but being a man that was more interested in westerns than dragons, it was hard for him as well. Unable to comprehend what the game had to offer, I stuck it in the closet.

So, the box sat for a few years, not knowing if I would ever get a chance to play the game.

During my wait, I managed to pick up the Players Handbook, hoping it would shed some more light on how to play, but it too wasn’t very helpful. I did manage to find a group that played in high school, but they just didn’t seem to be playing it right, it seemed more of a mechanical process that an imaginative one. You face a bunch of skeletons, you fight, around the corner is a bunch of Orcs, you fight again. Not very innovative. It seemed to me that something was missing.

The problem was, the way to play the game wasn’t in an instruction book, but in the imagination.

College brought me to the Wargamers club. It was an on campus club that happened to be run by one of my History teachers. The club was formed with military board games in mind, but a small group of us decided to give Dungeon and Dragons a try. The guy by the name of Lee helped get us started and on our way. He crafted amazing worlds and stories around which we would adventure in for several years. He took the time to explain the mechanics of the game, but that really didn’t matter. It was the escaping to a different world and being someone else for a short period of time that made the game fun. This is the way AD&D was suppose to be played.

Our group was realy great. We would meet every Friday afternoon, adventure for a few hours and feel like we’d been in the middle of some epic story that formed thru our actions and imaginations. Everyone looked forward to the next meeting. It was the highlight of my week, wondering what my warrior or mage would do next. You could really make a character come to life.

As we all started to graduate from college, we would meet up when we could. After having Lee teach us how to create a world and run great adventures, we all took turns crafting our own stories. Course, mine tended to be spur of the moment and a bit on the wacky side, just ask anyone thats been to the Inn of Seven, no Four, I mean, the Inn of Passing Wind. I was more into the creation than the actual mechanics of the game, as if you couldn’t tell, so in my games, I tended to fudge the numbers just a bit to drive the adventures forward.

As we all got older, some of us moved away, while others decided to start families. This pretty much put a hold on our group gaming.

Thru the years, we’ll all managed to get back together and try to recapture the days of pen, paper and pure imagination, but it just isn’t the same. Most of us play WoW together now and usually hang out there. We have fun, but it just doesn’t seem like the old days. Sure the worlds are awesome to look at and you don’t have to spend 20 minutes describing the scene to the other players, but is that a good thing?

Does having a premade world with its own built in stories, slam the door on the imagination? Would we be better off in a world of pen and paper as opposed to pixels?


I saw a comic today that reminded me of the past.

When I originally came up with this post I didn’t know how relevant it would be today. After posting, I discovered that Gary Gygax, one of the co-creators of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, had died this morning at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. We may never know how great his contribution was to the world of modern day MMO’s.

Mr. Gygax you will be missed.


~ by oakstout on March 4, 2008.

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