Friday, April 14, 2017

"Be an organized player;"

From the foreword of the AD&D PHB,

"1. Be an organized player; have the necessary information on your character readily at hand and available to the DM.
2. Cooperate with the DM and respect his decisions; if you disagree, present your viewpoint with deference to his position as game moderator. Be prepared to accept his decision as final and remember that not everything in the game will always go your way.
3. Cooperate with the other players and respect their right to participate. Encourage new and novice players making suggestion and allowing them to make decisions on courses of action rather than dictating their responses.
4. If you are unable to participate in an adventure, give the other players and the DM some concrete guidelines if your character is going to be included in the adventuring group; be prepared to accept the consequences, good or bad, in any case.
5. Get in the spirit of the game, and use your persona to play with a special personality all its own. Interact with the other player characters and non-player characters to give the game campaign a unique flavor and “life”. Above all, let yourself go, and enjoy!" (PHB 2)

The more things change the more the stay the same. And this is simply good advice no matter what game you are playing, or what version of D&D. However, a few deserve special note.

Being an organized player these days is much more complex than it was in the early days of D&D. In 0e PCs could be allegedly kept on a 3x5 card! I never saw anyone do that, but I can picture it based on the early rules. And, truth be told, we recorded our PCs pretty simply when I started. Front side of a piece of notebook paper:
An old style PC record like we did back in the day
However, I readily admit that AD&D could get complex, and depending on how you played it could take some book-keeping. We certainly didn't play with all the rules, and since we didn't our homemade PC sheets more than did the job most days. I say more, because we went heavy into background information more than mechanics including detailed histories, placed of origin, etc. that certainly went above and beyond what was in most character sheets. 

And, as a matter of fact, I always thought the official character sheets were a little silly. I mean we thought they looked cool, but we always sort of held up a certain amount of pride that we used out own character sheets, and only newbs would want or need a form fillable sheet to guide them through character creation. When in reality we were a little embarrassed ourselves when we actually did try and use them and suffered no small mystification as to what some of these blanks were even for! Denial usually held sway, and we quickly reverted to our supposedly "superior" method of notebook paper PC sheets. 
A sample of an official TSR AD&D PC Record Sheet
This is the first page of the PC sheet I recall first using. And you can see my point simply by comparing the hand-written example above and the spaces on the official sheet. And this is only the first sheet in the official PC file. The above example was usually two sheets, the ones in blue (I never had them) were 4! Was it wrong to not use those sheets? No, of course not. Although it was certainly recommended. Hackmaster has a nice spoof on this in their 4th edition rulebooks clearly stating that only inferior players would bring a hand-scribbled and coffee stained page torn out of a spiral notebook to the game table. Only official, authorized Hard Eight products should be used and all players worth their salt used fine, H8 produced, Hackmaster official Character Sheets! hey got the tone right.

I can't help but wonder then, if use of the official character sheets, reflecting all of the applicable rules of the game, would have helped a player and their DMs hew a little closer to the bone of the rules than winging it in the back of their school notebook? I think so, and think so with such a degree of conviction now, that in the future I will be creating and using high quality replicas, on the original blue by the way, for use in my AD&D games! I think it will help me and my games be better. And it will certainly help me and my players be more organized as we play.

Long live Mike Carr, and Long Live TSR!