Tuesday, February 26, 2013

There's "Old School" and then there's OLD School

Okay, sent the way-back machine to a series of posts pretty early on in the "Roll Your Own Life" series of posts, when I started talking about the old gaming group from my little home-town.

After that initial game of Traveller, I found myself in one of the two/three AD&D groups that existed (or at least, that we knew about) in the town, before the groups started to merge, mix and shift about. Old school D&D was where it was at, and those first months of gaming was really the hard-core original games - AD&D, Traveller and Runequest.

The group I used to play with, originally called the Rheinrhehm Travellers, became affectionately known as "The Eight" (despite the fact that there were rarely occasions when eight of us were present). We also used to visit the local pub (The Alexandra) usually at 8pm - a practice known as "Alex at Eight", so it really was eights all around.

Where am I going with this? Well, one of The Eight used to DM one of the other groups when I first started gaming. Pete used to DM ours, while Milo ran his group on the other side of the town. I've known Milo since the dawn of time, probably since I was about five years old, and he DM'd in a very different way to Pete. Pete's game involved 1st-9th level characters, my 9th level Paladin never levelled up in all those years of play. The games were cool, strategic and subtle.

Milo's games were the complete opposite. They were just as cool, but in their main game it was almost as if Deities and Demigods was the Player's Handbook. Characters were frequently triple multiclass, usually level 10-30 in each, and strode across the battlefields (and planes of existence) like the heroes of  legend.

Both games were very different, both used the same rules, and both were just as cool.

Something I've had problems with since the newer versions of D&D seems to be the focus on tactical wargaming. I know this is where D&D originated, but the use of miniatures and a battle map seems to be a little limiting to me. I love the way that RPGs can fire the imagination, how you can do anything, and having a little plastic dude (that looks mostly like all of the other heroes in other people's games) sitting on a dungeon map takes me out of the moment. I somehow think that with all this battle-map and minis, the idea that you could run the game with such powerful and god-like characters is probably frowned upon.

While I own 3.0, 3.5 (the deluxe versions) and 4th edition (and will probably buy 5th), I've only really played it once - a far cry from the three times a week we used to play original AD&D back in the 80's. Maybe the potential's there to do the big and the epic, and to play purely in the imagination. Unfortunately, I don't have a D&D group to experience this. Maybe one day. Hopefully, I'll have a bash at 5th Ed when it comes out. I'd like to see if it still captures my imagination like 1st edition used to.

I was very pleased to hear that Milo, my old DM and constant friend to this day, has not turned his back on his old 1st Edition roots, and his illustrations have graced the cover of the latest issue of "&" Magazine, a fanzine for players of 1st Edition D&D. You can download the latest issue here. (Milo did the cover of issue 4).

On the subject of incredibly retro gaming, I was alerted to this website PlaGMaDA which is compiling player and GM created maps and drawings from old school RPGs. I must admit, most of the maps and illustrations on the site really take me back to those old days of gaming.

The old days when you didn't need a computer to play. When your friends were in the same room as you. When you used your mind and imagination to create worlds, not just wander around a computer generated environment shooting people.

Okay, I'll stop being all nostalgic and get back to work. Until next time, stay multiclassy!!

1 comment:

tim h said...

Hey, Thanks so much for the PlaGMaDA mention on your blog. Just for the record, the archive collects and preserves both old AND new gaming material and it depends on gamers to contribute. We've started partnering with conventions in order to harvest their gaming papers that would otherwise go into the trash.

Thanks again,

tim h