Friday, July 1, 2011

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (First Edition--as if that needed said)

I've made some decisions. Yes, I had to eat some humble pie. But it wasn't all my doing, really. In a way I blame the Old School movement. But, whatever ... I certainly wouldn't want them to lose steam. Although I can't help but wonder if they are in a way, doomed. At least slightly. But more on that later perhaps. I don't want to dis the whole movement. I am part of it.

What I've decided is to do is pull back from the epic, monumental and some might say impossible task of creating a clearinghouse for all things old school. I suppose that might be possible in and of itself, but it would be ugly, unwieldy and inelegant. For you see the old school movement is diffuse at best; and many old school resource sites give a token nod to old school and actually play something more like d20. Publishers can't really be called old school publishers if they have a few generic items that could maybe be used in an old school setting. But the bulk of their material is d20, SRD or blatantly catering to the new and *shudder* very different approach to gaming the modern gaming entails. And sadly, every powerhouse old school publisher is reinventing the wheel again and again and again. We have multiple 0e retro clones, basic retro clones advanced retro clones, house ruled retro clones, and on and on and well you get it, on.

So who gets preference? Who gets dibs? Who do you support? If you leave anyone out, you are seen as making a political decision, and truthfully--you are. If you try and cater to everyone equally, your site becomes just as diffuse and wishy-washy as the movement itself. I suppose that in some ways this is unavoidable. But what it made me realize was that the goal of establishing a clearinghouse, let alone an "old school central" that could serve as a force of cohesion in the movement, was perhaps too big, and nigh unto impossible.

Now, please note, that I'm not saying the movement is worthless or ineffective. Though I do think it is less effective than it could be. It is more like the free market of ideas as well as capitalistic economics. Everyone is producing their own bigger, better mousetrap and it's up to the consumers to choose what they like. Some might say this is good for consumers, and generally it is good in the real market. But in the marketplace of ideas, I'm not so sure. But I've already gone to far into these woods, and that wasn't the reason for this post.

I tell enough now just to make it clear, I _won't_ be headed in that direction. In fact, this whole episode has really been defining for me. I had to go back to my roots in my heart and my mind. To consider where I can make the most impact and do the most good for gaming and the old school renaissance movement as a whole. A long while back Gary Gygax wrote in Role-Playing Mastery that to achieve a higher degree of mastery of the game you have to give back to the hobby. And though I never realized it, my desire to build and present this blog (and more) is born out of that desire. I truly had to ask myself why I was doing this. There are so many blogs out there, so many old school blogs. Why does the world need one more? And though I've been at it for a year or two less than they have, James Maliszewski at Grognardia and Jeff Bloch at Greyhawk Grognard have a much more polished and widely known gaming presence. (I mention them. 'cause they are kind of like my game blogger idols). Why would I enter the fray? What do I get out of it?

Well, as I said, I had to look deep inside to uncover not only my motives, but also my hopes and dreams. What I came up with I feel pretty good about. Allow me to share:
  • First of all I desire to connect with other gamers on  wider scale, especially those who love AD&D
  • Secondly, I hope to give something back to the hobby and the edition that I love
  • Thirdly, I want to raise my game to the next level and improve my gaming mastery
  • Lastly, I want to strengthen the game and ensure it's continuation
What really became clear to me, is that my blog thus far has reflected my own confusion about the old school movement, and the current gaming scene. All you have to do is to read through my previous posts to see that. I don't prefer gaming newer editions. I have never played any game but AD&D for any sustained length of time. My love of the hobby is centered around AD&D as Gary Gygax wrote and presented it 36 plus years ago. Sure I've made it my own, and tweaked, house ruled, added and deleted. But it's AD&D any way you cut it. It's what I know, it's what I love, and it's what I prefer to play.

So if I'm going to give something back, if I have any mastery to speak of it really resides within, around and about the game that I'm a master of: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Of which to me their is only one. You'll notice, I don't too often make distinctions between first edition and second edition or what not. Because to me there is only one AD&D. And that's what I'm all about and what this blog should be all about. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Oh, and in case you were wondering I used the Dragon magazine #48 for this month's header image not because I'm behind on my taxes, nor am I implementing a campaign-wide adventurer tax. No, that Dragon issue was the same month and year I began gaming. April, 1981. In fact my gaming "birthday" so to speak is either the 7th or 8th of April in that year. Which makes me just over thiry years old in gaming. And since the blog is experiencing a new beginning, by returning to my gaming roots, I thought it was apropos that we celebrate that with a commemoration of my gaming birthday when it all started. And I have always loved Phil Folgio.
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