Thursday, August 13, 2009

To campaign, or not to campaign?

In recent months, Fairy Girl and Monkey Girl have graduated from the online worlds of Neopets and Webkinz to the more full-blown MMO of Wizard 101. This stems, no doubt, from Monkey Girl's voracious devouring of the Harry Potter books and other assorted young adult fantasies this past year. Being cheapskate parents, the girls are limited to the free play areas on the site, which has satisfied them for the time being.

But the other day, Monkey Girl asked me something that caused me to swoon a bit: "Dad, what's Dungeons & Dragons." Oh, lordy. Did I play me some D&D (and AD&D, natch) back in the day. In fact, I'd attended several Aggiecons and Armadillocons before I realized there was something going on there other than gaming. I fondly remember the old WarCons held in February at Texas A&M, gaming-only cons invariably hit by ice storms. I played my first head-to-head and tournament games there, and had much fun.

Eventually, me and my gaming buddies drifted away from D&D. We played a heck of a lot of Champions! and also dabbled in GURPS, TORG, Call of Cthulu, TFOS and the like. All fun, of course, but D&D remained the gold standard. During the 80s, I bought just about every product put out by TSR. The Player's Handbook, Fiend Folio, Unearthed Arcana, Oriental Adventures... you name it. I still have probably 90 percent of my gaming stuff, too. But then TSR came out with revised versions of the basic D&D game with a lot of half-human characters and downright odd rule changes. The 2nd Edition of AD&D soured me, too, as it seemed a sanitized, watered-down version of the game intended to placate the torch-and-pitchfork crowd (yeah, like that's possible). The steep price tags on buying new versions of all the stuff I already had was a turn-off as well. Then, it only seemed like a few years before the 3rd Edition came out, then 3.5 and now they're up to the 4th Edition, all of which are different from previous incarnations and require much cash outlay to repurchase all those new core rule books.

It's been more than 10 years since I last played, a sporadic after-work campaign that wasn't entirely satisfying for anyone involved, the high point being the silly catch-phrase "Let's offer him cheese!" As the DM (I'm always the DM. *sigh*) I decided to stick with the original, 1st edition rules, and you know what? They worked fine.

Ah, nostalgia is a dangerous thing. This evening when I get home, I think I might just pull out the old Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual and flip through them, with their crude line art and pages and pages of tables and notes. If the girls happen to exhibit an interest, there might be a campaign in the offing--I know I've got The Keep On the Borderlands module in there somewhere...

Now Playing: Counting Crows August And Everything After

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