Saturday, July 2, 2011

History of Dungeons & Dragons and More

Have started building the about page, and am also working at the Game page. About won't be too long, but the Game looks to be much lengthier. My hope is to include all known 1e supplements and possibly more. I am skipping the basic intro to roleplaying and right now focusing on portraying how AD&D came to be. some of the controversy of the game will be touched upon, but only lightly. the real purpose of the page is to list all products currently available for the game, and how the game continues to be supported through OSRIC, Dragonsfoot and the like. Keep checking back, as new stuff gets added almost daily.

Thanks for checking in!

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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I've Been Humbled ...

Okay, so, I'm off on this new project right? The redesign of the site and the new focus and all that. Trying to give something _to_ the OS movement and not just be a "part" of it. It's not easy, let me tell you. Haven't got much past the starting line in this new endeavor and was slapped down pretty hard this morning. I won't go into details, but let's just say I'm more confused than ever. Don't know how to proceed yet--whether I continue to make an attempt aimed at affecting the community as a whole or just keep it on a personal level.

Thought I really had cleared the fog some on where exactly I fit in; but now I'm not even sure where the whole movement fits in and where it's headed. I mean ho many people can do the same thing over again? There's so much duplication of effort that the capital of ideas has become watered down to the gruel point. I'm not interested in serving up gruel. There's enough of that in modern gaming.

So forgive me, but I gotta take some time and think today. I'll clue you in later today if I've made some cognitive headway.

Old School Manifesto Complete

Okay, time for some help from the the old school readers out there. I've completed the first official release of the Old School Central manifesto. Well, I'm not sure I would call it a manifesto, but it sure sounds cool. It can be found by following the "About' tab above. What the page does is explain the reason the website exists and its general purposes. It also makes the case for a new age in old school gaming. Hopefully I made this fairly clear in the manifesto, but if not I'll try and succinctly explain it here:

The Old School Renaissance has accomplished what seemed impossible. We now have numerous readily available rule sets to support old school gaming. We also have numerous individuals, groups and presses producing new old school material. something we haven't had for a long time. There is more and more interest in OS gaming, and a growing body of OS gamers. However, the old school gaming scene lacks central cohesion. We are scattered about and thus lack a degree of focused momentum. What we need is an OS RPGA as it were. And we also need to consolidate what is available to support OS play. So the idea is to bring together the old school community with greater cohesion than has been heretofore achieved.

Once a degree of unity has been achieved we can begin to produce gaming support with greater efficiency and focus. We will also have provided a forum wherein all who desire to see what is available in old school gaming can come to get the desired information. Classic RPG Realms will be this forum. CRPGR will serve as a clearinghouse for all things Old School. From what products are commercially available and where to find them to how to go about producing your own quality supplements--and hopefully much more. In fact my hope would be that CRPGR can begin to develop a review system for OS products where gamers can review these products and rate their quality. In this ensuring that the kind of work we turn out is a credit to the hobby we love.

Such a movement will focus on the main engines designed to reproduce old school play, namely OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord and Dark Dungeons. The reason for this is first and foremost they are darn good games. And secondly they are freely available for download. Lastly they are the most successful emulations of the most successful OS games. This will help us maintain our focus.

Keep in mind that we aren't being exclusive here. Other retro clones like X-Plorers, Basic Fantasy RPG, Mutant Futures and others are also within our demesne. But they are played by far fewer gamers and we don't want to spread ourselves too thin too soon. Most importantly we don't want to encourage replicating clone systems, or in other words having numerous systems trying to do the same thing. Let's support the proven primary systems as a matter of principle.

What we need help with is critiquing the general direction the manifesto sets forth. Let me know if you feel there are things that should be changed. Both with the writing itself and with the direction the site is headed and the goals it hopes to achieve. Obviously this is still very much a work in progress and there is still much more to come.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big Changes Coming!

Excuse the dust as I rearrange a bit in preparation for something big. Expect posts in the interim of course, but meanwhile bear with me as I get things looking just right and set up for what's coming. Hopefully you'll like it as much as I am excited about it. More soon!