Saturday, June 9, 2012

What Makes RPGs So Special: A Confession

There is an undeniable something about roleplaying games that keeps us coming back week after week, year after year. And any of you die hard fans that have stopped RPGs for any length of time, know that after awhile you yearn to enter back into the hobby. No other replacement hobby, activity or pasttime quite has the same effect. I know, because I looked.

Reading the Foreword of the PHB brought this to mind again, and I wanted to take a slight divergence in this entry and get self reflective again. If anything, that speaks to the nature of my blog anyway: self reflection on gaming. So Mike Carr makes the following comments,

"As diverse as this melange of enthusiasts is, they all seem to share one commonality: a real love for Dungeons & Dragons and a devotion that few other games can claim. This remarkable loyalty is a great factor in the game's explosion of popularity, and Dungeons & Dragons has become a gaming cult, as avid D&Ders have ceaselessly "spread the gospel", enrolling new players in expanding groups which just seems to grow and grow."

What is this quality that Carr alludes to here? What engenders the devotion and makes it so powerful among its adherents? Well, Gary Gygax speaks to this in his book Roleplaying Mastery when he says,

"However, roleplaying games, by their nature, call upon the participants to develop a deeper involvement in the activity than any other type of game might require. Many of those with the time and inclination to indulge in such a demanding but fulfilling pasttime become avid players. A roleplaying game, instead of being an idle activity only engaged in when the weather is wet or cold, quickly becomes one of highly active and eager participation. The deep involvement and commitment shared by all enthusiasts is indeed a contributing reason for the popularity of roleplaying games."

Gary also admits to three other reasons that RPGs engender such interest, citing the fact they they are fun, and cooperative in nature and then he says something else of particular note here,

"Participation in roleplaying games requires mental effort, particularly imagination. This is no surprise, neither are roleplaying games distinctive for this reason. ...

The difference with roleplaying games is that they ask all the participants to exercise this creative ability. Role games ... require participation not only in the mechanics of play but also (and to a far greater extent) in the subject matter of play. All participants actually have important and demanding creative roles in such games, and their imaginative input is increased as long-term participation evolves.

This means that an ongoing roleplaying game, referred to as a campaign, alters from its original form into an amalgam of the printed game and the creative imagination of the group involved. As more is brought into the game by its participants during the play of adventures, or scenarios, that take place in the context of the campaign, they derive more from the game at the same time. ... Enjoyment grows as the game matures and becomes more complex and as the campaign's unique and independent personality develops. The game campaign actually alters to become the cooperative effort of the game manufacturer and the group playing it. In this way, the game, in each particular manifestation of itself, takes on a life of its own."

Now, if you've read and understood the implication and the depth of those words you can begin to see much in regards to the current state of gaming affairs worldwide. You can see why it has occurred and why it is a danger to the hobby as well. We are victims of our own imaginations--of their power and their uniqueness. But that is not the real reason I want to reflect on this matter right now. I want to make it more personal.

As any of you know who follow my blog with any degree of regularity I have a devil of a time making my mind up. I started gaming in 1981, and whether it's nostalgia or preference I like the way games were done back then. But what am I really looking for? I don't think it is nostalgia. It's that world born of the shared experience Gygax talks about, that was so vivid and intense in my youth. I haven't had that since about 1992. And honestly, it stayed as a very real part of me until 2005 when I actively started gaming again. It lived on in my memory.

My gaming situation now is very cyclical. I rarely have the same gamers at my table for more than 3 years. And rarely play the same game for more than a year. And truthfully it feels like it restarts every Septemeber and stops every April. The length and power of its collective life is short and never really able to achieve the heights I previously enjoyed.

This has given me pause the past day or two to really consider what it is I'm about with my gaming. For just like the post above, the rules don't even really matter all that much. Yes, they do matter, and edition or version or game does have an effect on play, as Gary alluded. The manufacturer of the game is at least a part of the world that grows out of play. But the whole is greater than the sum of its constituent parts.

And something else has come to mind as well. As I participated in the discussion of the creation of 5e at WoTC, I became very frustrated by the direction the game appeared to be taking. For some time I could see that many of the questions they are asking, and problems they are facing had been addressed and solved in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons over 30 years ago. Why couldn't they just see it? I asked myself. It made me quite frustrated, mad actually. But it has only been in the past day or two that I've truly realized they want to create a different game--a different way of doing it. They don't want old answers. Is there anything really wrong with this? No. It may or may not be better--but it will be different.

And here I am rereading my old AD&D books, self righteously telling myself that I'm gonna stick with the way things were "meant" to be. But I'll tell you something. I've felt pretty lonely lately. There is currently only one gamer, young man I know in our gaming club that even wants to play 1e. He's 13 and his dad gave him his books. It's a start, eh? Even though I don't even know the man (his Dad), I could reach out. But why? I've a whole group of gamers avidly dedicated to Pathfinder and that quickly growing collective Universe.

When I had decided I wouldn't play Pathfinder any longer, one young man was quite despondent. He was an 8th grader and in my class for kids who are behind in math. He had bought his own PF books, and read them assiduously. He would ask endless questions about spells, combat maneuvers, campaign details, how a wizard could become a lich, and on and on. He would stand near me when I did hall duty, or catch me between classes, and finish his math as quickly as possible to talk PF. He wanted to talk endlessly about Pathfinder, his PCs and what would be coming next in the campaign.

I realized early on that he was seeking to immerse himself in the game. He had caught that unmistakable gaming bug that Gary wrote about above. He was investing the time to become deeply involved in his hobby, in gaming culture. There is nothing wrong with this of course. As Gary said, such involvement allows the player to reap greater rewards for his participation. It is what I was looking for as well. The only thing was, I was trying to leave PF behind. So, though I entertained his questions and conversation, I was thinking in the back of my mind that I wanted to focus on a different game. That I didn't want to invest my time in PF. Accordingly I didn't get near as much out of our interactions as I might otherwise have. I also recall feeling a little cheated, and alone in my gaming tastes. There was noone to share my gaming thoughts and questions with.

And now I remember those emotions and experiences thinking, here I sit with my AD&D books and no interaction. My own brother, who I correspond with quite regularly, is heavily involved with 4e and his campaigns there, and the 5e playtest. Both of which I've left behind. When we talk there is a loneliness in me, a separation. A fracturing. I try and connect his thoughts with AD&D, but it just doesn't quite work. I'm not getting the same out of it.

And though I read my 1e books, and write my thoughts about what Mike Carr and Gary Gygax and others wrote those 40 years ago. I'm left a little cold; and the experience is a more than a little sterile. I feel more like Randolph Carter in "The Silver Key" searching for something that isn't a part of this world.

Why this is, is quite clear to me now. I'm not sure what to do about it. But it leaves me with a poignant sort of sadness and a resignation to my fate. Just what that fate is alludes me still, but I'll have to embrace it for fighting fate is folly. Just like Randolph when he, tiring of this world, and yearning for the forgotten world of dreams, takes the key and opens the gate. Leave behind what we knew, to embrace what we have forgotten. But I wax poetic.

The fact is, without a gaming community a gamer is but a reader of gaming books. And I'm not talking about the internet community. There are AD&D fora, and sites a plenty. But the sterile ground of digital interaction dwells on mechanics, and edition wars, and game development and stories of which you are not a part. No, I'm talking about an active group of gamers with which you game. With which you work the magic that is gaming. A long term, deep and imaginative collective of effort and devotion that only gaming groups can know. I've only known one. Long ago started at a bus stop with two young acquaintances in my grade. Quickly grew to four, then six, but always the core four of us living and breathing realms of magic, of deep dungeons and mighty winged dragons and realms of the magical imagination.

And I now look, like a child grown to stale adulthood, for a lost wardrobe entrance. At the back of which is only cold hard unyielding wood. Where, oh where is my silver key? Maybe that's why I'm re-reading my old AD&D books. Maybe I think I've left it there, hidden in the folds of its dusty, yellowed pages. But something very old, and something wiser than I whispers to me: No. That the key is in my heart, and the hearts of those with whom I might game once again. Find them, and together you'll find the gate once more.

Friday, June 8, 2012

DMs Only!

Players are the heart of D&D. Their special role is to interact with the DM, that may rightly be called the head of the game, and together bring to life the AD&D Spirit. The Spirit of the game is imbued within it's pages and play by the founder himself, but synergy of player and DM is what brings the magic to life.

The foreword to the Players Handbook highlights the player's importance in the game and makes it clear that the Players Handbook "gives you all the background you require on the game system, as well as the information you'll need to go adventuring." Of course, the assumption is that all else falls under the purview of the Dungeon Master.

In an age when core books include all there is to the game and game master guides are but a footnote of advice to GMs on how to run a game, this sets AD&D apart. Nowadays it is assumed that the players will know as much or more as the DM about the game and what they may be facing. It is simply assumed that the players will have all the monster manuals, the DM's guide and every other book in print and read it assiduously. They know the monsters you are going to throw at them, what magic items they might find and how to best handle poisons and traps that they may face.

Though modern gamers often laud this informational democracy as a good thing, as an advancement of fairness, in all reality this was never how the game was intended to be played. No it goes against the basic premise of the game: that players are adventurers heading out into the unknown. The players only need to know so much about the game. Why? Well, the foreword answers that very question, "this bit of the 'unknown' outside of the players' normal reach will make the game much more interesting and challenging."

And there you have it. What have we lost with the advent of gaming democracy? The players is already special, is the heart of the game, without which nothing happens at the table. He brings the magic alive as much as the DM does--perhaps even more because there are more of them. But as the game was createad there were definite roles at the table. Not the classes we play, but the roles of player and DM and there was a clear line of demarcation between them. The players were not to read the Dungeon Masters Guide, nor the Monster Manual--not if they wanted the game to be more "exciting and enjoyable." The Players Handbook was theirs, created especially for them. The structure of the book is the same as the Dungeon Masters Guide, so that they know each important element o the game, just not all the details. Only those salient to their role as players.

So the next time they come across that magic item, or trap or creature, there awaits them a sense of wonder, a thrill of fear and the very essence of adventure.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Future & The Past of Gaming

Humor has always been a significant part of Dungeons & Dragons. I mean let's face it, some pretty funny shnit occasionally comes up in these "Little Games" (alluding, of course,  to H.G. Wells "Little Wars" in case you didn't catch it) we play. And the first words of prose in the book don't miss a beat in that regard, "In fact one would argue there are as many types of D&D players as there are D&D monsters (after that draw your own conclusions!)".
One of the thing many gamers not privy to the early days of gaming may not realize is that the hobby was fully in swing less than a year after the release of the game. Because even before 1974, the Fantasy Supplement to Chainmail (released in about 1971) had been going strong for some time, and in fact the publisher had been sending Gary Gygax letters from fans all over the country. He speaks of thousands of fans making queries, asking for advice, guidance and the like. By the time the first 1000 White Boxes went out the door there was an avid fantasy gaming culture developing around the minis based game. The very honesty in Mike Carr's foreword about players in the game describing them variously as "fast, slow, clever, foolish, cautious, reckless, generous, greedy, friendly, obnoxious ..." speaks to the very active state of the gaming community.

The reason I mention this here is that often I listen to gamers talk as if we are in the hey day of gaming now, that what has went before is passe', old news, and outdated. I'm afraid not my friend. In fact, the past of gaming is like an ancient advanced civilization right beneath our feet, that we often pass over without realizing what has gone before. Every stripe and color of gamer, every problem and dilemma has likely been experienced before. They often say there is no new thing under the sun--well I don't know about that, but alot more has happened before we got here than we sometimes admit. This is as true of gaming as a lot of other things.

I mean we are talking about gaming after all--not computers. Sure, computers have advanced, technology does that. But something that doesn't advance much is social endeavors. And gaming if anything, is a social endeavor. I'm a teacher, and every year they come up with some new supposedly miracle technique or program or method that is going to close the achievement gap, and catch every child up to where they need to be. It never works--not like they promised. Teaching is an essentially human endeavor and is every bit as much an art as it is a science. The basics haven't changed much since Socrates, Plato and Aristotle wrote about them long ago. Well, okay Socrates, didn't actually write about it, but you knew that.

The same is true of roleplaying games. RPGs the way we have them now are basically a new phenomena. And the fact is, after about 40 years it is fairly clear that there is not a whole lot new under the sun in regards to the science of RPGs. But RPGs are like teaching in that they are at least as much about the art as they are the science--and probably more. There have been a few innovations, a few different ways of doing things--diceless, live action, skills vs classes, and a few others. But essentially they are what they are.

Now, this is not a call against innovation in the gaming world--far from it, inasmuch as RPGs are an art form there are an infinite variety of expressions left to discover and experience. But what I'm saying is that just as the art of the past is every bit as powerful and evocative as the art of the present day--just like a Rembrandt, a Gaugin, a Warhol, an Otus, a Ronquillo, and a Lascaux Cave Painting are all powerful and worthy in their own way. We have as much to learn from the past as we do from the present.

[I here take a slight aside. My assertion that gaming is an art form might be controversial, not the least because Gary Gygax himself made it clear that RPGs are not art, they are games. And I completely agree. But I would assert that there is an artistic quality about them much like live improvisational theater is an art form. It is in this sense I say that the collective play that develops out of the interaction between DM and players is a product much like a painting, novel or play is the product of given form of art.]

 And this it is that I would remind one and all that gaming h been alive longer than most of its adherents. Yes, there are still those of us who have yet outlived it--but I can only claim 2 years at best. And that when founders of the hobby, who worked in the field less than half a century ago, say something we would do well to take notice. They have walked the road before us, walked more steps than we. And this is not a science in the sense that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before--no. Would an artist today say he was better than Raphael because he came after and uses more high tech paints? Because he uses techniques that Raphael may not have known of? No. But if he is fortunate others might consider him as great as Raphael and the other masters. And if we are lucky we might one day be considered fortunate to stand shoulder to shoulder with the masters of RPGs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

AD&D Players Handbook: Special Reference Work

First, a comment on the absolutely iconic drawing by David A. Trampier. Much art of the AD&D game was done in black & white. So much so that what is commonly called old school art is presumed to be black & white. This is silly of course, as there was very effective color art in that day too. I assume that black & white was used for ease of printing and cost, but there may have been other reasons. However, once the choice is made black & white conveys a tone that color does not. And this tone has been passed on to many old school players. In doing a little research online, I came across lots of reasons why artists would choose to use black & white as opposed to color. One comment by a predominantly b&w artist caught my eye, however: "Replacing The Need For Color With Your Soul". And that said it all for me. The art, like the title page of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook, captures something in me. It is evocative. It has much the effect of Shakespeare dramatic use of taking down the third wall. First it's circular frame is as if we are looking through a window into a realm that resides within the pages of this book we are about to read. The wizard sits in an obviously idyllic, and adventure beckoning scene. He is a wizard, right? He somehow reminds me of Alice and Wonderland and the hookah smoking caterpillar. Which evokes all sort of strange emotions in me as well. Magic is weird and strange and, well mind altering. Is this game like that? And he sits atop a six sided die. Like the thousands I've rolled to make the PCs and NPCs that populate this fantastic world I'm about to enter. Again the third wall is broken. The setting is surreal because of the die, and it makes me realize the game is some sort of a gateway, an entry a window and portal to another world. Now, I'm not saying you can't get such things if a color picture. But almost all artists agree color can be a distraction. It's eye catching, but not always soul catching. In black & white, the untrained eye, like mine, can fill in the lines with what is in my mind, my imagination and in my soul.

Which speaks volumes about how I feel about this game. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Even today, after thirty plus years of looking at that picture, it still carries me away. Touches something inside me. Something very real, and very magical.

Reference works are defined as "a book or serial publication to which you can refer for confirmed facts. The information is intended to be found quickly when needed. Reference works are usually referred to for particular pieces of information, rather than read beginning to end. The writing style used in these works is informative..." Which is a tad different from a reference book. Reference books refers to reference works in libraries that are for in library use only. Reference work implies that it is to be actively bought, owned and used for personal reference. Not sure that describes the AD&D Players Handbook (PHB) perfectly, but it fits. Which explains maybe why lots of people haven't actually read these works from cover to cover.

I've been frustrated lately by those who frequently comment on modern gaming forums asking questions, debating rules and critiquing systems in ways that show a complete ignorance of the foundational rule set of their own hobby. I here call AD&D the foundational set, as the original edition was much less well organized pre Moldvay/Cook/Marsh. And even then was a looser, and less defined game. Gary Gygax here sets out all of the problems faced by gamers up to that time, and gives answers to those dilemmas or reasoning why things are the way they are. This "Special Reference Work" is exactly that. Filled with facts and answers to those persistent gaming questions that many think were never answered. If they'd only read the work, they would have known. For in this "Compiled Volume of Information For Players of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" we will find that very thing and much, more more. We will encounter the very spirit of the game brought to life those 40 years ago.

So as the first installment of my complete reading and commentary of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks we will start with the Players Handbook. It was the second published in the line, the Monster Manual being the first. But I will save consideration of the the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II for after the PHB and Dungeon Masters Guide. It is my later intention to do the same for the Deities & Demigods, Unearthed Arcana, Wilderness Survival Guide, Dungeoneers Survival Guide, and Oriental Adventures. But the most thorough treatment will be given to the first two: the PHB and DMG.

So you can expect from my blog over the next several months a personal commentary on these works, as I am today doing for the Title Page itself. I think there will be many gamers who find this not only interesting and useful, but enlightening. My hope is that other modern gamers will take heed as well, for many of the bugaboos and quandaries they think they have so excellently solved were actually addressed in the original works themselves. From time to time I will also be referring to the work by Gary Gygax entitled Roleplaying Mastery, in which he outlines many of his thoughts on game design and on what constitutes good RPG play.

Some might take issue with what Gary did, dismiss his work as passe', or out of fashion, or simply primitive in light of all our modern gaming production. What a pitiable stance to take. Do we say the same of Einstein? Of Newton? Of Michelangelo? Of Charlie Chaplin? No. Gary Gygax was not simply a plodding newbie in the world of gaming that we have outgrown. He was a master. A Master of the Game, and of game design. In the works we shall consider together I assert that this is so apparent, so clear, so undeniable that all the new redesign of games under the assumed name of Dungeons & Dragons have been but a footnote on the grand work that he accomplished.

Monday, June 4, 2012

5e Just Lost Me & Relearning AD&D

I won't be following the developments of 5e any longer. Enamored by the idea of an edition that might unite D&D again I spent quite a bit of time on the Wizards forums, following articles and press releases, signing up for the playtest and listening to the reports of others who were actually playing the new rules. I set aside just about every doubt I had, or at least maintained an open mind. It didn't matter what Wizards had done in the past, it didn't matter that part of the game might include aspects I didn't like, didn't matter that I was having to put up with a lot of haterz online. I just hung in there and kept up the hope that maybe, just maybe Wizards might put together a game I might like to play.

Bear with me for a few while I outline the thought process I went through. My first opinion of 5e, according to all the press releases I had read, is that it might end up looking something like original D&D with 1e, 2e, 3e, 4e, add-ons. Like you could play something like basic D&D, or add more classes and races, add skills, add feats and prestige classes, then add powers. Yeah, it was naive, but it was at least a rough idea to run with. After the playtest packet came out I was encouraged. It looked rules light and gave more than a nod to an old school feel. I then spent several frustrating hours on the forums trying to reassure more modern gamers that Wizards would meet their needs too in time. I still clung to the idea that they were starting with something like a rules light approach at first, and would get more complicated later. No, the playtest rules were not really anything like original D&D, but it was rules light.

Meanwhile, having read the packet, and giving lots of new thought to game design and D&D in all of it's iterations something was becoming clear to me. 5e was not at all what I thought it was going to be. And moreover with themes and backgrounds figuring so prominently in the core I was only interested in playing the most basic and streamlined version of 5e. I didn't want or need feats, or power like abilities or the at will spells they added in either. Here we were at the very start and I was already thinking about taking things out of the system.

Something else that had really started to become clear to me was that a good bulk of Wizard's fanbase hated what Wizard's was doing and was droning on and on about how rules light play, old school play or DM as Master was not only not their cup of tea, but totally the wrong way to play--according to them. And there was no reasoning with this crowd. You could politely try and say it was fine they hated to play that way, but that others (like myself) enjoyed that style of play, and had in fact played that way for numerous years. They could care less. It was an inferior style of play and that wanted no part of an edition that had anything to do with it. So I was resigned to simply reassuring them that I was sure WoTC would add in rules that allowed their style of play later in the development process. Truthfully, I wasn't in the least bit sure.

In fact the exact opposite was becoming apparent. I don't think 4e fans will be entirely pleased with the finished product that will become 5e. For you see Mearls is creating a completely new game. A cohesive blend of disparate elements that seeks to appeal to all types of players with a new approach to the game. And I had already decided that the only part that appealed to me was the more barest essentials of their current playtest rules. I wasn't interested in their "further modules". And given the foundation they were laying I truly didn't think their 3.5 or 4e players would be interested with the finished product.

But something else was becoming clear as well. First of all I began to see the the efforts of 3e, 3.5 and 4e were nothing but GURPS wish fulfillment. I mean they were trying to let everyone be whatever they wanted to be within a game that was never originally designed to do that. GURPS had been doing this much longer than Wizards ever had, and they do it much more efficiently. In fact the game had clumsily tried to add in GURPS like customization and was doing the same thing in a different way with 5e. The promise to return to roots was looking dimmer all the while. But still I held on and began to wonder what a very streamlined 5e might look like. So I tried to create it.

Well, it was just an experiment. A thought experiment really, but I scribbled down a few notes as well. I won't give you all the details; but it was basically a d20 system, four basic classes and races, using ability checks for everything else. What I quickly realized was that class construction for combat was a bugaboo that I was unprepared for. d20 was supposed to be easy and slick, wasn't it? No. not really. In fact the considerations behind the system, made me long for a table to make things much easier. Yes, a table based system--just like D&D used to be. And when you come right to it, d20 is no easier in actual practice either.

And this realization came on the heels of something else too. I was listening to the reports of various playtests. The complaints were to me mindless and short sighted. Play testers were complaining about having to choose DCs without rules for it, not being able to adjudicate if Clerics should be able to search for traps like thieves, that the rogue was "useless", that healing kits were extraneous and on and on and on.  The thing was to me these were silly problems that had been solved ages ago, by the game's creator himself, Gary Gygax. That's right, 5e was trying to reinvent the wheel. They were trying to by a game they weren't: GURPS, and trying to solve problems that had already been solved long ago.

This may have been clear to everyone else long ago, but just call me slow. It takes the right kind of eyes to see that the emperor had no clothes. But there I was, with rule books of all sorts around me, reading them, taking them in, and realizing I was looking for something I had all along. AD&D.

You see Gary was a lot smarter than the modern crowd gives him credit for. I mean sure, Dave and others had a hand in the original inspiration behind the game, but Gary did something with it no one else had done. The game was powerful in it's original form, but left lots of unanswered questions. And the original game had expanded in scope via the supplements but was chaotic and loosely defined at best. B/X went a long way towards consolidating that original power of the creative force that was D&D. In fact it really became the legacy of the little brown books, a style of play that was really without limits. But see, that wasn't the game I played.

Recently I bought the original Moldvay Cook and Marsh books again. I had them long ago, but had since disposed of them. I read my new copies and reminisced, but felt something missing. And that familiar feeling that this was just not quite "it". Not "it" in any sense, but my "it". Really, if I had to nail it down, it would be the unanswered questions I have that seem to naturally spring out of play. Answers that once again are given in the AD&D game.

I have dissed on Gary some because in AD&D he sought to cut Dave out of the loop. And that he set himself up as the authority. That here was the definitive game: AD&D. So yeah, it comes across as a little pompous. But you know what--it is the game. The answers are all there. Almost all you need that might come up in D&D play. Even rationalizations for why certain choices were made that might seem limiting to some. And you know what else? Even though AD&D explicitly discouraged house ruling, it was as friendly to house rule as 0e ever was. Things could be dropped or added or changed as you saw fit and the game didn't change too much. Matt Finch spoke to this very fact in an excellent blog article on his Mythmere blog.. AD&D more than anything else, was MY game. It was the game I grew up with, it was the game I learned  to first play, and it is now in my gaming DNA. Like it or not, everything since is judged by its criteria in my own mind.

So I picked  up my PHB and my DMG and started right back at the beginning. And that my friends is where I am headed now. I'm on a journey this summer. A journey to reconnect. I've been allured of quite a few games lately. Castles & Crusades, HackMaster, Dungeon Crawl Classics, GURPS and even 5e. I've spent quite a hefty chunk o' change lately too. But none of them quite cut it. They all focused on one or another aspect, but didn't quite fit the bill. And my recent feelings about 5e and the things I've come to realize and see will give me a new pair of eyes with which to read my old AD&D books this time. And that's what you can expect next on my blog.

NEW DIRECTION: I'll be re-reading the complete AD&D library and blogging on items of note and interest within their pages. Reflecting on the nature of the game that is truly MY game. And preparing to begin a new page in my gaming life by starting over at chapter one. I loved the book the first time around, and have a feeling I appreciate it even more this time.

You can also expect a bit of a blog face lift to go with my new found purpose and direction. I for one am excited and more comfortable gaming wise in my own heart than I have been in a long while. I look forward to seeing you along the journey.