Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In the Mind of a Mad Gamer

"Oh, and Game Master, just one more thing: love your campaign!"  

Perhaps the excessive heat the US has been suffering under has broken my brain. Perhaps seeing the bickering of my family over parental issues (that's all I'll say on the matter here) has broken my spirit. Whatever the cause(s), I've found my brain severely unfocused as of late. As a result, my mind has been spinning on all levels, and this includes my gaming life.

When I was young, my hobbies were a true escape from a tumultuous family life. I read books voraciously. I found solace in places like, well, Solace, the tree-top village in the Dragonlance Chronicles. Yes, reading was a hobby, and linked to that was a "hobby" of self-imposed isolation. To be hidden in the depths of a library, secluded among stout walls made of book shelves with a book in hand, was to be in paradise for a short time. I also liked to write fantasical stories, an interest that I'm sure I shared with many young people who enjoyed Dungeons & Dragons.

When I discovered Dungeons & Dragons, I was often in the role of Dungeon Master, as my enjoyment of crafting plots was the greatest among my childhood group. As with many of us, the game gave us a means to develop creatively and socially.

I suppose reading is still an escape for me, and roleplaying is still something of an escape and a creative outlet, as well as a great social event (I can't say enough about how much I enjoy being around my current group of players). Though now I'm escaping the sometimes onerous grind of adult responsibility/bullsh*t.

ANYway, to continue on from my recent post about self revelation, of late I've found myself feeling pulled in many directions with regard to what I want to run as a game master. I feel really upset at myself for putting my still-young Labyrinth Lord game on hold. I didn't want to do that to my players. But I also had to be true to myself with regard to the fact that I felt unfulfilled with what I was running.

After a lot of rumination on the more nebulous aspects of my feelings, I think I've reached some clarity on things. I suppose not many people out there will be interested in hearing a 30-something man go on and on about roleplaying woes, but this is more for my own sanity, I think. I need to lay out what's on my mind in some organized form. I hope this will alleviate the swirling miasma of Gamer ADD. I've been inspired by Chris at Classic RPG Realms, who isn't afraid to talk out his struggles regarding what system to use.

Again, I consider anything with D&D "DNA" to be D&D wearing a mask. All that being said, here's my thought process as of right now:

Basic D&D

I have come to realize that I really want to run a game using actual Classic/Basic D&D rules. The retroclone thing wasn't cutting it. This came as something of a shock to me, as I'm a big fan of the 'clones. But I can no longer hide from myself the fact that I want to play "pure" if I'm going to play Basic D&D.

If I'm going to deal with the somewhat arcane mechanics of Basic D&D, then I want to be actually playing Basic D&D. That means using the original rulebooks. I have a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia that I'm dying to use, and I have PDFs of the individual Mentzer box sets that I can print out (or have done so already).

I'm not sure if this sounds shallow or bizarre, but yes, I want to use those original books. I don't want to use a retroclone. There, I said it. Again, I have nothing against the 'clones. They're great, and they're the impetus behind looking back to explore early D&D.

But I want to see that Larry Elmore/Terry Dykstra artwork when I'm flipping through the books. I want to see the fonts they used. I want the beholder in the monster section! I want that authentic D&D experience, which to me means using the original books.

And in using the original books, I want to stay as close to rules as written as I can. I really want to cut down my house rules and just do rulings on the fly as needed. I think the majority of my house rules will pertain to the classes, to give them a bit more "oomph."

Again, I'm feeling very guilty about putting my Labyrinth Lord game on hold after only a handful of sessions. I think I owe it to my group to give Basic more of a fair shot. But to me that means actually using those original rule books. Once more, I ask: is this insane?

I'll include the DCC RPG here, because it uses Basic's race-as-class feature and many other connections to Basic. I really like what Goodman Games has done to the D&D chassis. But I feel like it has more rules crunch than I'm willing to deal with at the moment. I have an urge to run some DCC RPG in the future, but not right now. I don't want to deal with the crunch.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

When it comes to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, for some reason I currently have the opposite desire: I do NOT want to run a game using actual AD&D rules. I would much, much rather use Castles & Crusades. I'm not sure if this is a strange divergence from my "NEED PURE BASIC D&D!" feelings. But there you have it. At any rate, I have no desire right now to GM an AD&D/C&C game.

D&D Mine

Every once in a while I get the urge to make my own "edition" of D&D. Who in our blogosphere community hasn't felt that urge, right? I want to take the Swords & Wizardry clone as a foundation and put in all the tweaks I want and make my own game! I was inspired recently by JB at B/X Blackrazor when he proposed the D&D Mine concept.

But at the moment, this still is a case of "MUST PLAY PURE BASIC D&D!" eating at my brain. So this recurring urge is, once again, pushed aside.

Other RPGS

I really like Savage Worlds and the Dragon Age RPG. Their allure is that they offer an alternative to those games that are variations on D&D (i.e. those games that use mechanics very similar to D&D, either Basic or Advanced). And this appeals, because I have no deep-seated desire to immediately house rule either of these non-D&D RPGs, because they aren't D&D!

I think that I'm so familiar with the D&D rules that I can't help myself when it comes to house ruling. I'm sort of tired of this uncontrollable need on my part to endlessly tweak the D&D design. So, to me, the logical solution is to try another RPG for a while, and take a break from D&D in all its forms.

Yet my desire to play these games, strangely enough, makes me yearn for D&D. I'm really feeling insane...


I try to tell myself that I don't have a time limit on my new gaming life. I can run one sort of game/RPG for a while and then switch to another at some point down the road.

Ultimately, I'm sorry to subject my poor gaming group to the results of my scattered mind. I'm feeling like a very divided self, with my attention pulled in too many directions. This is frustrating to no end.

Any advice is very much appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. I've gamed using Moldvay/Cook for thirty years (with a cast of a thousand other games along the way). Copies are easy to find, so I've a stack of red books to hand out as needed. All flavour, no filler.

    So I guess my advice is strongly implied :)