Friday, May 30, 2014

End-of-Week Elmore (5/30/14)

What's this, now? An elf consorting with some sort of...thingy? Seriously, what is that? A demon? A mortal sorcerer that's been...changed (twisted? corrupted?) by the magical forces he's encountered over the years? Or is that just what his species looks like normally?
I'm open to hearing your theories, dear readers! Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2014

End-of-Week Elmore (5/23/14)

A warrior confronting a red dragon? Does it ever get old? Not for me, and not for Larry, apparently. And that's fine with me!
However, this time the warrior is not alone. Did you notice that he has back-up?
I hope you all have a relaxing and restorative Memorial Day holiday, dear readers. Here's to all those who have served and sacrificed for our freedoms.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

D&D 5E Revelations & Coverage Beyond the Covers

Okay, by now everybody knows about the revelations WotC released regarding the D&D 5E books, right? So, no need to rehash it here. Instead, I want to get all "meta" about the discussion burning across the roleplaying blogosphere. I want to weigh in on what D&D still means to the roleplaying world, if I can, and what the new edition might mean for both the veterans and new gamers alike.

Alright, the current buzz is primarily focused on the cover art, right?

Some people - specifically older gamers who were young when the earlier editions of the game were in print - are complaining that the new D&D covers "don't do it for them." In other words, they personally are not inspired by them, like they were inspired by the covers from their OOP edition of choice.

Oh well. Too bad for you.

Do I, personally, like the new covers all that much? Nah, not really. Why? Because, like the other uninspired veterans, they won't replace within me the feelings I get when I see the covers and other illustrations from 1st Edition and especially 2nd Edition. Those were the editions I played the most as a kid.

The art of 2E from the likes of Elmore, Parkinson, and Caldwell are what I experienced as a youth. The work of those artists became the lens through which I viewed the game, and since I encountered their work at an early and impressionable age, they were burned into my mind and heart and soul. Their association within me is nigh irrevocable. In short, those 2E images MEAN D&D TO ME.

But does that mean the art used to illustrate subsequent editions is pure junk? No. Could the 5E covers be a bit more subtle and evocative? Sure they could. But that doesn't mean they have no artistic or inspirational value at all.

The new covers are not D&D to me, but nor are they terrible abominations. I think this sentiment is most pervasive amongst the bloggers I've read. But for those who are veritably dry-heaving over the art...get over it.

Why should they get over it? To paraphrase JFK (probably in poor taste on my part): "Ask not what the covers do for you. Ask what the covers do for the next generation."

Clearly, WotC has had a tall order for themselves with this latest edition. They're trying to include disparate demographics in their bid for "one edition to rule them all." They're trying to appeal to the youth of today, who have been exposed to a much different graphic aesthetic (thus the style chosen for the cover art) and conception of what it means to play a game. At the same time, WotC is also trying to appeal to older gamers and their love for the earlier versions of the game.

I'm not sure how successful WotC will be in their ambitions, but I give them props for making the attempt. And I wish them good luck, because I for one like seeing a game called D&D in print.

The young gamers today have experienced the legacy of D&D mostly through video games. They don't know that the terms hit points and armor class and such came from D&D.

So let's teach them about that legacy, and so much more.

To once again paraphrase JFK: "Ask not what the covers can do for the hobby. Ask what YOU can do for the hobby!"

This comes back, once again, to my impatience for the doomsayers who cyclically come out of the rotted woodwork to declare that the end is nigh for D&D, if not roleplaying in general. Funnily enough, it is the rare doomsayer who actually states the following sentiment: "It seems that roleplaying as a hobby is dying. Therefore, I'm going to go out and do something about it!"

That's my biggest frustration with my fellow veteran gamers: they'll sit around and bemoan the fate of the hobby, BUT THEY WON'T GET OFF THEIR ASSES AND BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. Even if roleplaying is fated for extinction, didn't you guys learn anything from all the heroic fantasy you've read? Didn't all that reading teach you that HEROES FIGHT NO MATTER THE FACT THAT DOOM IS CERTAIN. One must still fight, even in the face of "assured defeat."

Because you know what? Quite often, what we thought was assured defeat is not really the case at all.

Rather than sit back and see whether or not freaking roleplaying book cover illustrations can  entice a new generation to play, perhaps we as veteran gamers should go out and actively help young, potential gamers discover the game. Let's be more active and not passive. Let's help the kids discover what makes these books really cool: the contents, and the history behind the contents. Let's teach them there's more to these books than cool covers. Let's teach them the value of stepping away from the console and to the table-top.

And once the young players of today are at the table, we have the chance to say, "yeah, this new D&D edition is pretty cool, but let me tell you about this other version..."

To wrap this rant up, here's a final thought: the release of 5th Edition is a chance to open up the dialogue about the hobby to a more mainstream audience. In conjunction with the 40th birthday of D&D, we have an opportunity to maybe, just maybe, do something to keep the hobby alive once us old-heads are gone.

I'm doing my part to spread the good word of the previous versions of D&D, with my own children as well as with kids at the FLGS when I can.

What are YOU doing?

Friday, May 16, 2014

End-of-Week Elmore (5/16/14)

Eww, that weird lizard-headed serpent thingy in the illo above is kinda gross, with the tentacle-flagella things all along the neck and hanging from the jaw and all that. Gross, gross, gross.
Well, it's a rainy Friday, and I'm looking forward to a more relaxing weekend than the last few I've had recently. There have been weddings and baptisms and other "rites of Spring" taking up the weekends, but this one coming up is pretty clear.
So, I hope to maybe do some RPG reading here and there, and maybe get some more Dungeon! gaming going with the family. A man can hope! Then there's all that pesky stuff I could be doing towards my goal of a career shift...doh. Well, I can say that life isn't boring, at least!
In the coming weeks I hope to post about ideas for a campaign that won't leave me alone, no matter how much I try to shift my attention to my aspirations of a career change. I need some small outlet for those RPG urges, or they may just drive me MAD!
Have a great weekend, folks, and happy gaming!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Awesome Aquisition: Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

The branch of the county library near my house has a perpetual book sale. There's shelves and shelves of donated books for sale in one corner of the library (they also sell books that have been removed from circulation because they haven't been checked out for a few years).  
Every time I'm in the library, I take a tour through the books for sale. And once in a while, there's something really good waiting for me. This time around, it was a goodly number of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks! Freakin' SWEET score, right?!
Now, the only FF gamebook I've ever played was Forest of Doom, when I was a teen. For some reason, it seemed like it was hard for me to get a hold of the books back then, and anyway I was focused on playing D&D. But I remember having a lot of fun with Forest of Doom when I was alone, and the art was like nothing I'd ever seen...very different from what was in my D&D books, that's for sure.
I don't have a full list of the specific books I grabbed, but as you can see from the shot I took, I got Citadel of Chaos...and there's a copy of Forest of Doom, Starship Traveller, and City of Thieves, among others. No Warlock of Firetop Mountain, unfortunately. 
Oh, and there's a couple SORCERY! books in the bunch as well.
Anyway, I'll post the full list of books sometime soon, when I have a chance to go through them. Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blog Spotlight: A Return to the Keep

I haven't prominently featured someone else's blog here for a while. It was back in October 2012 when I featured the Dicechucker blog. I did it, partially, as part of a "bandwagon jumping" effort: Tim at The Other Side was posting a series about "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading" (TBBYANR) at the time, and I thought it was a great idea. However, I didn't keep up with that endeavor (come to think of it, I'm not sure if Tim did either).
Anyway, that was the past. I'd like to tell you about a new blog called A Return to the Keep (not to be confused with Back to the Keep) that I think shows a lot of promise. Blogger Blackwarden has a lot of enthusiasm that I've been missing in the blogosphere. Of particular note is a re-reading of Moldvay Basic.

I know some of you might groan at that prospect of yet another someone posting about a rule set read-through; I for one really like getting an in-depth view of what another gamer thinks about the rules. It gives me a new perspective, and the potential for new insight.

So check out A Return to the Keep! I think you won't be disappointed!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Castles & Crusades 10th Anniversary Kickstarter!

"Why can't it ever be bunnies that come out of these pits?!"

Anybody who's come to know me on the blogosphere knows I'm a huge fan of Castles & Crusades. Well, the great folks at Troll Lord Games have a Kickstarter going right now in honor of the 10th anniversary of that awesome RPG! The centerpiece of the Kickstarter is a 6th printing of the Player's Handbook in full color.
There's still about 20 days to go with the Kickstarter as I write this, and they've already smashed through the funding goal and a goodly number of stretch goals. And the Trolls have had a slew of very successful Kickstarters in the past, including the recent one for Codex Nordica. The bottom line is: unlike many RPG Kickstarters that have gone belly-up over the last few years, you can't go wrong with the Trolls! They won't let you down!
Please consider supporting this incredible game, which has carried on the legacy of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with the blessing of Gary Gygax. The Troll Lords are incredible people who I had the pleasure of meeting in person a few years back. Be sure to get in on the action as C&C moves into its next incarnation!

Friday, May 9, 2014

End-of-Week Parkinson (5/9/14)

It's been a while since I featured the art of one of my other top favorite fantasy artists: Keith Parkinson! He's right up there with Elmore, in my estimation. I really like the action-based illo shown above. Makes me want to break out my dice and get into some combat!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Reflections on the Occasion of my 500th Post

Well, here I am at 500 posts.
Hmm, I'm feeling rather underwhelmed with myself. I mean, my blog's been around for nearly four years now (my first post was on June 30, 2010) and I've just now hit 500 posts? Is that...well, not so great? I'm not sure where my output falls among all RPG blogosphere offerings, but from what I've seen out there I'm more prolific than some and less prolific than most. At least, that's my estimation.
I'm definitely nowhere near the 4,000-plus posts that Erik Tenkar has under his belt! He's been posting for about a year longer than me (May 31, 2009), but his output has been growing exponentially ever since. The man is a machine!

Now, I'm not sure about what Tenkar's plans were from the start of his blogging career, but mine were never all that gonzo. My intention has always been that blogging about my return to roleplaying after a long hiatus was always going to be secondary to actual roleplaying. And I've pretty much stuck to that formula. I created this blog to reach out to like-minded folks, in order to read their stories and share my own.

Still, there have definitely been times when I've felt a desire to be a more active contributor to the blogosphere in terms of reviews of products/fiction, new monsters/spells/magic items, discussion of rules variants, generating conversations topics, etc. I've done a wee tiny bit of all the aforementioned, but nowhere near as much as some of the other bloggers out there.
Oh well. Once again, I've been more concerned with gaming than blogging. Over the last few years, I've definitely roleplayed a good amount. Except as of late, with my current return to a near-hiatus from roleplaying. With the exception of the occasional "pick-up game" here and there, I'm no longer playing on a regular basis. I've discussed the reasons for my current situation.
But I'm still feeling the RPG itch. I feel like I still need an outlet. Thus my continued use of the blog...and, as I said, the occasional pick-up game. But these days, of necessity, I'm a player and not a GM. Which is always strange to me, because I've mostly been a GM over the years. But I'll take what I can get!
To me, how I'm feeling confirms once again that gaming is in my blood. It's a part of my make-up, my psyche. It was ingrained in me during my formative years, bound into my heart and soul. Stepping away from the table years ago was a denial of a part of myself, in many ways.
These days, I'm trying to trumpet the virtues of roleplaying whenever I can. I'm going more and more public with my love of the hobby, and trying to incorporate it into my new endeavors in the realm of personal development coaching. I'm still searching for my niche, so to speak. But I'm getting closer all the time.
Bottom line: I don't think I'll ever truly step away from gaming again, at least not for the span of a decade (as I've done in the past). When I look back, I was definitely not as happy as I could have been during those years I wasn't roleplaying. Trust me on that one. All that pent-up imagination didn't do me any good at all. I don't want to do that ever again, to myself or others around me. Sure, I have other creative outlets. But none so fulfilling as being at the roleplaying table.
So, anyway, here's to my next 500 posts. I hope you've enjoyed my presence here on the blogosphere so far. I know I've enjoyed yours, from the friendly to the cantankerous. It's my hope that you'll keep reading, and that I'll keep being worthy of your time.