27 February 2014

Day 27 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different when you first started gaming

I'm not sure we could have done things much differently. In our relative isolation, there weren't any local game stores to patronize, few, if any, other gaming groups to become involved with, a scarcity of gaming products, and no internet, of course. I don't even think we were aware there were such things as gaming conventions to attend.  

We didn't suffer from the personality clashes that seem to pepper so many of these reminisces, so no regrets there. We were always eager to welcome anyone who showed any interest in the game. I suppose we could have put more effort into recruiting new people. That may be the one thing I would do differently, if given the chance.

All in all, we had a great time, and I remember it fondly. 

26 February 2014

Day 26 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: Do you still game with the group that introduced you to the hobby

No. While I am still in touch with 2 of my high school gaming group, neither plays anymore. One of them was part of my current group, but between work related travel and the distance he lives from the rest of us, just can't make it. The other one has abandoned RPGs in favor of an obsession with board games. So I do get to play games with him, just not RPGs.

25 February 2014

Day 25 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: Longest running campaign/gaming group you've been in

The longest running D&D campaign I have participated in was probably our high school campaign run by Mike. It lasted almost 2 years. The longest running gaming group I played D&D with was the same high school group as mentioned above. We played together a little over two years.

If we are talking about games other than D&D, it's a close call. The longest running campaign I have participated in was either Robert's first edition Warhammer Fantasy campaign or Art's Amber game. They both lasted about 4 years real time. Robert's Traveller game also lasted that long, but I joined it after it had been running for about a year.

Answering the second part of the question is a bit harder. When does a group quit being the same group? When I started college, none of my high school gaming friends came with me. I got involved with a new group by simply walking up to a guy I didn't know because he had a Player's Handbook under his arm. That group lasted a year, then our DM left to do an internship. Part of that group joined up with a few other people and started playing. A couple of my high school group then started or transferred to the same college and they started playing with us as well. I suppose that is either 3 or 4 groups, though some of the groups shared members. none lasted much more than 2 years.

After college, there were a few of us who still lived close enough together that we could continue gaming together. There are 3 of us who still meet regularly, 1 who comes occasionally, and 1, (who I have been gaming with since high school), who shows up when the stars are right. We have been gaming together for about 28 years, longer for some of us. Along with the remains of my wife's college gaming group, which consists of 3 people as well, and one other occasional person, our current group of regulars have been gaming together for over 18 years.

24 February 2014

Day 24 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First movie that comes to mind that you associate with D&D

Another question that I am not sure how to answer. The only movie that comes to mind is the animated Rankin/Bass movie The Hobbit. Besides the obvious inspiration that D&D owes Tolkien's works, one of my regular high school and college players was a second cousin of mine. He had a copy of the film and had watched it so many times that he had memorized it, songs and all. During a game, he would occasionally break out with a thematically appropriate song. (In college, he had a tendency to sing all of the songs after a night out on the town.)

Edit: I guess that answers yesterday's question as well:)

Day 23 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D

Hmm... I don't know if I have ever consciously associated a particular song with D&D. I don't use music when I run a game, and I can't remember ever having addressed this topic before.

Day 22 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First D&D based novel you ever read

(Weekend posting did not occur as planned.)

The first D&D novel I ever read was the first D&D novel, Quag Keep. I have been an Andre Norton fan since a librarian recommended her books to me when I was 11. I am fairly sure that I read it before I actually played D&D.

I haven't made a practice of reading D&D based novels in general. Mostly I've read whatever has happened to cross my path by chance.

21 February 2014

Exploring Atlantis 1: Game overview

I don't intend to do much in the way of reviews on this blog. There are plenty of places on the internet to find that sort of thing. You can generally assume that if I'm talking about a game product, I like it. However, I do feel that I should describe the product at least a little so that anyone considering purchasing it might have more to go on than just my enthusiasm for it.

Atlantis: The Second Age is a sword and sorcery RPG currently put out by Khepera Publishing. It is the third edition of a game originally published by Bard Games. The biggest differences between this iteration of the game and previous ones are the lifepath character creation system and the removal of non sword and sorcery type creatures. There are no elves, dwarves, unicorns, or fairies in this version. If neither of those things appeal to you, you might be happier with the second edition of the game, which Khepera currently also has available in pdf form. 

There are a few problems with the game I feel I should address, however. While the overall production value for the pdf is fairly high (as of this writing, the printed version is not available), it shows signs of being "rushed out the door". There are a few more typos than I am comfortable with, and several places where it appears that two different versions of the same information weren't reconciled. As an example, in at least one place in the book, there are references to a Speak Language skill. In other places, the skill is referred to only as Language. This caused some confusion during character creation. There are a few organizational issues. An example of this is the placement of the Racial Attribute maximums almost at the end of the character creation section. It is possible to start a the beginning of the character creation section, get to the end, and realize that you have spent more points on your attributes than allowed.

One other thing to be aware of is the fact that the bestiary section is very small. There is advice on how to create creatures for your game, but if you aren't the type who enjoys doing that, you might be better off waiting for the official Bestiary.  

After indulging in what could be categorized as nit-picking, I will take this opportunity to state again: I like this game, I am happy I purchased it, and I am preparing to run it very soon. In future posts I will discuss what I like about the game in greater detail, and introduce you to the player characters in my game. In the meantime, grandexperiment has a nice variety of posts on Atlantis: The Second Age character creation that I can recommend.

Day 21 D&D 40th Anniversay Blog Hop: First time you sold some of your D&D books

The only D&D related item I have ever sold was my Dragon magazine collection. At the time I hadn't played any version of D&D in 10 years or more. My not-yet-then wife was still running the FLGS at the time. She suggested taking the magazines to the store and selling them there.  They were taking up a lot of space, and I hadn't touched them in forever. Honestly, I couldn't think of a good reason not to. It was a little sad to go by the store and watch them disappear day by day. Considering the fact that I eventually lost most of my game collection a few years later, it was just as well that I sold them.

20 February 2014

Day 20 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First non D&D RPG you played

The first RPG I played other than D&D was Gamma World. It was the first edition boxed set, if I remember correctly. We enjoyed it, but didn't play it a lot. The most memorable campaign was one that actually started out as a D&D game, where our arch enemy was a hyper-intelligent gargoyle, Fontaine. When we eventually tracked him down, we discovered that he wasn't a gargoyle at all. Fontaine was a Gamma World mutant who had discovered a portal between the worlds. Naturally, we followed him back to his world in order to put an end to him and his nefarious plans.

19 February 2014

Day 19 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First gamer who just annoyed the hell out of you

I suppose I have been pretty lucky in this regard. I haven't actually had to regularly game with anyone I've found particularly annoying. I have run into gamers at conventions that were a bit hard to take, but that comes with the territory. I can't recall any specifics, though.

18 February 2014

Day 18 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First gaming convention you ever attended

My first gaming convention was a local one. My FLGS used to hold one every year. It didn't exactly have a name, just "The Rusty Scabbard Gaming Convention". (If you have read my previous posts, you know that "The Rusty Scabbard" was the name of my FLGS.) For a local convention, it was pretty nice. There was a large selection of games, and a decent selection of vendors. I enjoyed every year I attended.

In point of fact, the local conventions were so enjoyable that my local college group decided that we would hold our own.  We held it for two years and had a great time. (After that, we lost our faculty sponsor and disbanded.) 

I have attended a variety of other conventions, but not in many years. The heyday of my convention attendance was during the mid '80s through the mid '90s, which included regular visits to GenCon. Of course it was a lot more affordable back then, and a lot easier to arrange the time off.

17 February 2014

Day 17 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First time you heard that D&D was somehow evil

I think the first time I encountered the idea that D&D was "evil" was the infamous book, Mazes and Monsters, or possibly the less infamous, but similar book, Hobgoblin. I didn't run into either of these books until I was in college, after I had been playing for several years. (I somehow have avoided seeing the movie adaptation of Mazes and Monsters.) After I read those two books I began listening to the experiences of other gamers, and found out that the idea that D&D was "harmful" or "evil" was something that a lot of them had run afoul of at one point or another. This was new to me. When we started playing in high school, (and we actually played at school), we experienced none of this. People who thought it was weird, yes. People who thought it was evil, no. I think there was so little awareness of the hobby in the population at large, that it just didn't register on any level, for good or bad reasons.

16 February 2014

Day 16 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: Do you remember your first edition war

I haven't participated in an Edition war. My group was usually happy to play whatever was available, at least until 3rd edition came out. By then, we weren't playing much D&D at all, so it didn't matter that most of us didn't care for it. We did play a 3rd edition game, but it kind of fizzled out due to lack of enthusiasm.

Day 15 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: What was the first edition of D&D you didn't enjoy

 (This didn't post yesterday for some reason, so here it is today.)

The first edition I really didn't enjoy was the 3rd edition. It was the first edition I didn't bother purchasing after I looked at it. I didn't care for the increased power levels and the fact that some of the character classes were relegated mainly to support positions.  (I'm looking at you, bard.) I really didn't like the concept of buffing. I thought it made everything play too much like a video game. (Which, of course, means I really didn't care for 4th edition.)  I won't go so far as to say these were bad games, but they weren't for me.

14 February 2014

Day 14 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: Did you meet your significant other while playing D&D

Technically, I suppose my answer to this question should be "No". I did not meet my significant other while playing D&D. However, I did meet her because I played D&D. 

A few posts back, the topic was about the first store you bought your gaming supplies from. If you can remember the first time you walked into an actual game store, I'm sure you can recall how fantastic it was. (It was for me, anyway). Here was a place filled with games. Games you had never even heard of. Wargames! Roleplaying games! Dice! Miniatures! Painting supplies! The people in the store all shared your hobby. It was great. But my store held an additional attraction: The Girl Behind the Counter.

She was smart. She was funny. She was beautiful. And she played role playing games. I was instantly smitten. The only problem, I thought to myself, was that it was inconceivable that she wasn't already involved with someone.

Of course, I was right.  

And so, I waited. And shopped. For a long, long time.

While I waited, I got to know the individuals at the store. The employees, the regulars, even some of their children. I played games at the store. I ran games at the store. I brought my friends to the store. I bought a lot of product.  

During this time, The Girl Behind the Counter became the Assistant Manager and then the Manager of the store. We became friends. 

Then one day she was available, and for reasons I don't completely understand,  did not immediately shoot me down when I expressed my feelings for her.

We have been married for over 18 years at this point. We still game together once or twice a week with our friends. And I still don't completely understand how I lucked out.

13 February 2014

Day 13 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First miniatures you used for D&D

The very first miniatures I can remember using in a D&D game were a pack of Slimes & Jellies. They were part of Ral Partha's Children of the Night series. I remember that I chose them because I wasn't very confident in my painting abilities. They somewhat resembled pieces of slag, and I figured I couldn't do too much damage to them even with my inept skills. I was actually pleased with the end result, which is more than I can say for the players who had to face them in the next dungeon I ran.

12 February 2014

Day 12 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First store where you bought your gaming supplies

As I mentioned in a previous post, the very first place I ever bought gaming supplies from was the Sears mail order catalog. I bought the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, and Deities and Demigods books from there. It wasn't until college that I found an actual game store. At the start of my college career, the nearest game store was in a nearby town about 30 miles away. I looked up the address in the phone book and started on my way. Fortunately for me it was located in a part of town that I was somewhat familiar with. When I arrived, however, the store was gone! Unhappily, I started back to college. I had traveled less than a block when I happened to look to my right and saw it. "The Rusty Scabbard". As it turns out, the store had just finished moving around the corner only a few weeks before I had come looking for it.

It is fair to say that I bought the majority of my gaming supplies from the 'Scabbard from the early 80s through the early 2000s. The store is still in business, though with different owners than when I shopped there.

11 February 2014

Day 11 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First splatbook you begged your DM to approve

I don't think I ever used a splatbook in any version of D&D, let alone begged to be allowed to do so. The splatbooks didn't really appear until AD&D 2nd edition was well underway, and by then we had mostly drifted away from playing D&D.

10 February 2014

Day 10 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First gaming magazine you ever bought

The first gaming magazine I purchased was a Dragon magazine. I think it was issue #79, but I'm not positive. I did eventually go back and purchase a large number of previous issues over a period of years, and I kept buying Dragon magazines for a while even after I mostly stopped playing any version of D&D on a regular basis. I had a pretty good collection of them at one time.

09 February 2014

Day 9 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First campaign setting you played in

The first coherent game world I ever played in was a homebrew created by my friend Mike. Before that we just bounced from adventure to adventure without paying much attention to the game world as a whole. Mike created a world with a Hapsburg-like royal family that controlled most of the world. Whenever we ran into a king, high cleric, or powerful wizard, odds were that we were speaking to a member of this family. Some were good and some were evil. Many of our adventures revolved around helping or hindering these individuals. 

The first published campaign world I played in was Greyhawk, in college. Of course at the time, it was the only published game world.

08 February 2014

Day 8 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First set of polyhedral dice you owned

I am not sure if I still have the first set of dice I purchased. I don't remember which ones they were. It is very likely that at least some of them are still rattling around the old dice bowl. What I can say is that I have some of the first dice I ever used. When my friend Dan bought his Moldvay/Cook basic and expert sets, they each came with dice. Really crappy, cheap dice that flaked plastic and looked hideous. You were supposed to color in the numbers with a crayon that was also provided. They were the only dice our group had available and they were passed around from DM to DM. When I graduated high school I had one of the sets in my possession. I still have most of them.

07 February 2014

Day 7 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First D&D product you ever bought

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the difficulties my friends and I had in getting started in this hobby was finding someplace to buy our books and modules. My friend Dan found the Moldvay/Cook basic and expert sets during a family trip somewhere out of the area. We knew there were other products available, but we weren't sure what they were or where we could find them. That is, until the day the Sears wish catalog arrived in the mail. I know that doesn't mean much to any younger readers, but the arrival of the wish catalog was always a big deal. It came out in the fall and was filled with Christmas gift ideas. This particular year it was also filled with D&D books. There were several things to choose from, but I was most intrigued with the Advanced D&D books. I thought they were part of the same game we had been playing, just more, well, .... advanced. I wasn't about to wait until Christmas, so I checked my finances and realized I had enough for one book. We had books on character creation and DM advice in the basic and expert set, so what I decided what we could really use was more monsters. (Because you can never have enough.) So I ordered the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual. When it arrived we put it to use instantly. Sure, the stats looked a little funny compared to the ones in our D&D boxed sets, and there seemed to be a few more alignments than we were used to, but we didn't let that stop us. We bashed the two rule sets together with a blunt instrument and went about our merry way. It wasn't until I later bought the Player's Manual that we realized we had two different sets of game rules on our hands.

Sadly, I don't still have my first purchase. Poor storage choices and some theft have accounted for almost all my original gaming collection.

06 February 2014

Day 6 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First character death

This is somewhat odd, but I can't remember any character deaths in a D&D game. None of the characters I played long term ever died, but I know some beginning characters and characters from one shots and convention games must have perished. Maybe the event was so traumatic I've blocked it from my memory:)

05 February 2014

Day 5 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First character to go from first level to highest level possible

Much like the previous day's question, this is something I have never done. All of the D&D campaigns I played in were low to medium level. I think this is what most of my fellow gamers enjoyed playing and running and therefore we weren't in any hurry to "get to the top"

The highest level character I ever played was also my first, Serafis the fighter. The campaign lasted almost two years in real time, and I think he finished up somewhere around 10th level in an AD&D game.

04 February 2014

Day 4 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First dragon you character slew

Nope. Sorry. I never killed a dragon in any D&D game. The closest I came was during my first AD&D college campaign. One of the other players was playing a cavalier using the rules first published in Dragon magazine. The cavalier had displeased her god by not being sufficiently brave enough in a previous encounter. The atonement was single combat against whatever creature we found at the bottom of the dungeon. (I think the DM was running a heavily modified Village of Hommlet.) When we fought our way to the bottom, awaiting us was a young shadow dragon. The cavalier refused our help and engaged the dragon while the rest of us watched. She was victorious, but just barely.

I am sure I encountered a number of other large monsters and dispatched them, but my memory fails me at the moment. The one I can remember was from the same campaign with the cavalier. That occurred while we were playing the Ravenloft module, so you know who we slew that time:)

03 February 2014

Day 3 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First dungeon you explored as a player character or ran as a DM

If you've been reading these posts, you know that I started playing D&D with the Moldvay Basic set. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the first dungeon I explored was the Caves of Chaos from Keep on the Borderlands. My friend Dan was the DM. I played my fighter character, Serafis. It was a great introduction to dungeon crawling. Years later, I played it again modified for AD&D in college. It was still a lot of fun.

The first dungeon I ran as a DM was a home brewed adventure I came up with for my high school group. I can remember that I called it Morblund Castle. The basic premise was that there was an old castle that had been taken over by an evil wizard. (Really are there any other kind?) He hadn't been seen in over twenty years and was assumed dead. The party was hired by the king to check out the castle with an eye to renovating it and to remove any dangerous items left by the wizard and clear out any monsters that might have moved in.  Needless to say, there were plenty of both.

Day 2 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First person who you introduced to D&D

    (Second catch-up post from the busted water pipe weekend. Only one more to go and then I'm caught up.)

As I mentioned in the previous post, my friends and I weren't introduced to D&D by someone so much as we had heard rumors of it and decided we wanted to play. We had to teach ourselves to play, something which I suspect was not uncommon for people of my age range. There were four of us, and until we started playing at lunch in high school, we didn't know if anyone else would be interested. As it turned out there were a fair number of people who ended up joining us. Some played only once or twice, some stayed with us until high school graduation or longer. The first person, and one who gamed with us the rest of our time in high school was Mike. He saw us playing and thought it looked like fun. The group caught him up to speed on the rules, which were that weird mash-up of Moldvay/Cook and AD&D we were using. (They changed every time one of us bought a new rulebook. We were going to get our money's worth out of anything we actually paid for.) I don't actually remember his first character, probably because he didn't play it for very long. He quickly became our groups primary GM. It wasn't until much later that I realized how lucky we were in finding Mike. He was a great GM, and ran some of the most enjoyable games I ever played in.

Day 1 D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop: First person who introduced you to D&D

    (A broken water pipe ate up my weekend and kept me from starting this blog hop on time. I will try to catch up today.)

I can't say for sure how I first learned about D&D. I heard about it long before I ever saw a copy of the rules. It was always a story from someone who knew somebody who met a guy who had played. My friends and I were very interested in trying D&D out, but we couldn't find it anywhere. No one in my high school played, and no store in our area carried it. Finally, more than a year after I had first heard of it, my friend Dan came up with a copy. It was the Moldvay Basic set. We all took turns reading the rules and set about teaching ourselves how to play. I'm pretty sure the first character I played was Serafis, a fighter. Dan later bought the Cook Expert set. By then, I had gotten some of the AD&D books, (but not the DMG), and for a long time we played some weird mutant version of the game that incorporated rules from whatever books we happened to have. Eventually, we switched over to AD&D completely.