Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Evolution of an Old School Gamer, pt.2 of 3

My own personal OSR

For several months, I immersed myself in collecting out-of-print gaming stuff. Mostly off Ebay, but I also would get a lot of Judges Guild books from Lou Zocchi (remember his ads in Dragon?) and started to take day trips around Florida to any game, comic, or used-book store within a couple hours of Tampa. At the time, I was working at a chain record store in an immense shopping mall, and knew quite a few gamers around the various shops there, who I would regale with descriptions of my latest acquisitions ("Pastel D1 for $2 at a thrift store!"). Eventually, one of them suggested we should, you know, actually play some of this stuff!

At first I was skeptical. I had gotten extremely bored with D&D. There was plenty of opportunity to play, lots of clubs around, but they were all 2E, and the prospect of sifting through Druid kits or getting railroaded through a long series of "story" modules was extremely unappealing. But some 1E? Was it really all that different? Sure, I liked the art better, and the dungeons seemed somehow more mysterious, more dangerous. But that was probably just nostalgia and fondness for a pasttime of youth.

In the end, though, we ended up giving it a go. I even agreed to DM. I ran T1 (Hommlett), the players rolled up characters in about 10 minutes (ranger, magic-user, halfling thief, elf fighter, cleric, iirc), and we were off to the ruined keep, giant frogs and all. And it was fantastic! Ten hours went by and we scarcely noticed. We were hooked. On what most of us had considered an "outdated" version of D&D. In the following weeks, we would take on the Temple of Elemental Evil, a couple of the Slavers modules, the Giant series, and at last on to the Drow series. Sadly, the group disbanded just short of the climax of the series, but man, the rest was fun.

Of course, even after this, I failed to put two-and-two together. I think I assumed I had just needed a break from gaming, thus the renewed sense of fun, rather than laying the improved experience at the feet of any difference of edition. Not wanting to lose momentum in the renewed fun, I quickly put together another group. This time 2E, in the bizzarre Planescape setting. It lasted about four sessions. I quit gaming again.

And then, a year or so later, out of boredom, joined yet another group. Which just happened to be running 1E. It was fun again! Now it was starting to make sense. Though my free time available to game got smaller and smaller, I stayed with 1E, and it stayed fun. I renewed my subsriptions to Dragon and Dungeon, ran games in the Wilderlands, developed my own campaign settings, had a blast. I kept up with new TSR releases, but seldom bought anything, except for brief period when the company got acquired by Wizards of the Coast, just to see if any major changes were implemented. As in, backwards, in the direction of the older editions. No such luck. On the contrary, previews started appearing in Dragon, tidbits and teasers of whole new edition of D&D, a complete revision. A new site founded by Eric Noah followed the news with interest...

3E loomed on the horizon.

Up next - Part 3: "1st Edition Feel, 3rd Edition Rules"


  1. I wonder how many of us who got back into D&D after a long absence also first ran T1. I know I did too.

  2. i enjoyed parts 1 and 2 - where's part 3, Al?



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