Monday, May 30, 2011

Pics from Wednesday Night C&C

Well, the old timer (me) decided to try his hand again at downloading some pics from his cellphone's camera. I know how to do it, but I don't do it often enough. I snapped a couple of photos last Wednesday night at the weekly game I'm in at All Things Fun.  Here's a shot of the table, including C&C Castle Keeper's screen, a map of the City State of the Invincible Overlord, and a can of Dr. Pepper, the official drink of C&C.

Here's a shot of my copy of the C&C PHB, and my character sheet and dice:

This Wednesday night I debut my Dragonlance campaign! Can't wait!

Down the OSR blog rabbit hole...

In January, I was pondering/"complaining about" the wide range (perhaps too wide) of RPG options out there for us old-school types. Well, today I am wondering if there are too many blogs! Well, perhaps I'm not thinking that there are too many. Perhaps I am just wishing that I had enough time to fully explore our little corner of the blogosphere. I wish I could read all of the blogs that I encounter to their fullest extent. The winding maze of blogs could  almost be considered a type of megadungeon, if one wants to look at it that way. It's definitely an adventure, and a daunting quest indeed!

For example, today I was reading one of the first blogs I ever encountered: Paladin in Citadel. And I went against my better judgment and glanced at the site's blogroll. And I was like Alice, tripping and falling down the rabbit hole. I found a blog called The Chronicles of Ganth that I am finding very interesting. Also during my wanderings I found a blog called Tales from the Tower. I'm having a lot of fun reading the actual-play recaps there.

But every new blog I find leads me ever deeper,  thanks to their gets to the point that I have to just step away from the laptop before I venture too far into the depths...

Giving thanks on a Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day to all, especially those who are serving in the military or served in the past. I can't imagine what that sacrifice of time away from home and family would be like, let alone the giving up of one's life for the greater good. We are in debt to those who have fought for us, no matter what we may think about the conflicts into which they were thrust. We always support the troops.

I usually take this weekend to contemplate my life at the moment and my current circumstances. I am giving thanks for my wonderful wife and kids, and the fact that I have a job, even if sometimes said job stresses me out! I am also thankful for having some time to roleplay! I've had some pretty good luck when it comes to finding a new group to game with, since my old friends and I don't get together nearly as much as we would like.

It's also a good time to show my appreciation to all of the great bloggers I've met over the last year. Thanks for all the great conversation, debate, advice, and for providing your unique perspectives on the hobby. You've been the network I never had when I was roleplaying as a young teenager. I think a resolution of mine for the coming year will be to go to a big convention if I am able. I would love one to come to Philadelphia sometime soon! I don't think I can make it to Gencon or one of the other big gaming staples, but something local to me would be nice. Bottom line, I would love to keep expanding my network of local gamers.

So I give thanks for my life and liberty, and for roleplaying as well and all my fellow gamers out there. I just need to work on being this thankful every day of the year, and not just on three-day holiday weekends!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A quick check-in from the daily grind's front lines

Salutations, fellow gamers! I've been inundated with work this week, and as you can see posting has been slow. I've been at the new job for about two months, and now that I'm getting into the swing of things I'm being handed more work. And one of my coworkers just went out on maternity leave, so that adds to the pile on my plate as well. Stupid adult responsibility.

But all that hasn't stopped my gaming efforts! Had another great Invincible Overlord session at All Things Fun! last night. Wednesday nights are now officially the best night of the week! I can't get into the nitty gritty details of the session, but at the end of the night our characters were pushing a huge chest of gold in a "Viking" funeral boat on wheels back to our base of operations. We took the gold and the boat from a necromancer that we slew. He was running a sort of medieval funeral parlor, of course.

I also wanted to point out something I observed: I sometimes take a moment to eavesdrop on the other games going on around us (ATF hosts some other gaming groups on Wednesday nights, and it gets quite noisy). I believe we are sandwiched by two D&D 4E games. And when I listen to those games, I usually hear them talking about looking up spell effects, or a rule. In general, it sounds like they're doing a lot less actual roleplaying than us. And I don't think any other table sounds like they're having nearly as much fun as ours!

Anyway, next Wednesday night I debut my Dragonlance campaign, and I'll alternate Wednesdays with Rich, who is running the Invincible Overlord game. I can't wait to get back behind the screen! Wish me luck. Gotta run, but until next time, happy gaming!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Are YOU with D&D?

Hi all. I haven't been able to post over the last few days due to work and family. I am becoming much busier by the day at my new job, so that unfortunately means that my blogging during the day will be slowing down/sporadic. I have to sacrifice something in favor of spending time to actually game/prepare to game. As always, I do what I can when I can. Anyway, enough of all that. On to the real topic of this post:

Has anyone read the "I'm with D&D" post over at The Other Side blog? Take a look if you haven't, and let me know your thoughts. What is your stance on the many editions of D&D? Are you an egalitarian, or a staunch partisan? I for one have a "play and let play" stance on things for the most part. Any kind of D&D is D&D, alright! What's most important to me is that people are actually playing! Now, does that mean I love the 4E incarnation? No. I am not a huge fan of editions 2 through 4 of D&D, actually. And I have just truly started to delve into OD&D, and find some issues with that venerable beast as well. Give me 1E any day! But if people are as passionate about other versions, so be it. Who am I to tell them what should be their game of choice? I could write posts that go on about what I find offensive about a particular edition, but always with the caveat of "this is my opinion." If you love it, play it.

I've been called "mealy" for my opinions. So be it. Mealy I may be, but at least I'm not a "flaming" uber-nerd who's sole purpose is to extend one's ire for a D&D edition to actually attacking those who play said edition. That's a level of meta-dorkness to which I will not descend.

Currently, I am playing using Castles & Crusades, which has been dubbed a 1E/3.5E hybrid. But I am also increasingly interested in Labyrinth Lord, a clone of Moldvay/Cook/Marsh B/X. I see C&C as a means to do more "story-driven" roleplaying, whereas LL to me would be used at my table for a more "traditional" version of D&D that focuses on the sandbox-y, dungeon crawl "slay and loot" approach. I know some of you are groaning right now at my mention of story in conjunction with D&D. I might need to do a separate post on my thoughts regarding the use of certain editions depending on what style of game you want to run. This post may also include my thoughts on playing strong archetypes versus more "individualized" characters, etc. I may have to rethink my stance on other editions, and accept that each has their merit based on what style of play you seek to foster.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

D&D-related Videos and Flash Mobs

A few blogs have recently posted the following videos, and I found them amusing, so I decided to repost them here for your consideration:

All of this made me remember the following:

Then there's this goodness surrounding someone calling himself the Dungeon Bastard. Here's his PSA video:

I have to admit that these unfortunately made me think of all those videos of people dancing to the horrendous "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" song by the Black Eyed Peas. It also made me think of flash mob videos for some reason. And that got me here's a thought and a question:

I feel like there needs to be a D&D "flash mob" phenomenon, where people spontaneously start playing D&D in public places. What do you all think of that?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reflections on the Occasion of My 100th Post

Well, here’s my 100th post! Maybe not a huge milestone. Especially considering that my blog’s been around for about 11 months now. But I figured I’d celebrate the event. So, instead of waiting for June 30th (the actual one-year anniversary of Once More Unto the Breach!) to do a look back at the last year, I’ll take this opportunity to do so.

As stated in a recent post, I want to take a look at my progress over the last year as far as actual gaming is concerned, refocus on the purpose of my blog and consider what I might do differently going forward, and perhaps make some predictions on what the future may hold.

Year in Review

I started this blog with no real strong purpose or purposes behind it. I suppose many blogs are started in that way, actually. I knew I wanted to join in the discussion of this old-school renaissance I had discovered and with which I had become enamored. I shared my personal gaming history, as I had seen many others do. I knew that I wanted to tap into the community to perhaps find some like-minded folks and get some advice on how to finally return to the hobby. I feel that I have accomplished both of these things.

It’s been great sharing stories and experiences, learning more about the roots and history of D&D and roleplaying in general, and learning about the retroclones and other game systems not based on TSR’s products.

I’ve accomplished my goal of getting back into gaming. I’ve done some gaming with my old friends, but I’ve also had a “breakthrough” of sorts, and discovered that I can have roleplaying without my old group. It just took breaking out of my association with my old group and gaming, as the two had been interchangeable in my mind for decades. It also took finding the right people.

I tried Pathfinder but I realized that I am truly a rules-light and old-school-minded gamer. There were false starts other than my very brief Pathfinder stint, such as my attempt to return to play-by-chat/email gaming, which I had been doing with varying degrees of success since 2007. But I quickly discovered that I really wanted to get back to the physical tabletop.

I’ve explored the local gaming scene to the best of my abilities. There aren’t many FLGS’s in southern New Jersey. Due to a recent major change in my work situation, I found myself closer to All Things Fun! during the work week. ATF is, IMHO, the best FLGS in the area.

I went to my first gaming convention this year: TrollCon East. I might be tempted to try my hand at attending other cons in the future.

My present includes keeping the gaming going on Wednesday nights at All Things Fun! I’m playing in a great campaign there. And, after talking to the Wednesday night group, I’ve convinced them to let me run a game on alternating weeks! I’m planning on getting a Dragonlance campaign going, the first time I’ve ever tried to run a game on the world of Krynn. This is a campaign that’s about two decades in the making! No pressure, right?

Purpose and Refocus

I may not have known all of the reasons behind my desire to create a gaming blog when I started one, but I have a better idea of the purpose I want it to serve now. I want the blog to continue to serve as a means to share my gaming experiences with kindred spirits. I want to continue to read about other gamer’s experiences and find common ground. You’re all my support system. And I hope that I can also provide said support. We can help keep each other company in what can, paradoxically, be a lonely hobby. Yes, we may be surrounded by other gamers, but there are times when we find our pastime being viewed with copious misunderstanding and an almost institutionalized disdain. The existence of the many RPG blogs keeps me inspired. I hope you look forward to hearing more about my trials and travails as much as I look forward to hearing more about yours. So I’ll continue to share tales of my roleplaying sessions, on both sides of the GM’s screen.

All that being said, I have no illusions that my gaming life is all that interesting. Therefore, I hope to provide some more “useful” content, such as book and game reviews, new spells, magic items, thoughts on gaming “philosophy,” and more. Again, I’m presuming a lot here when I say “useful.” That remains to be seen. But yeah, like everyone else, I could be paying the JoeSky Tax more often.

The Future

So, like I said, I’m working on getting a Dragonlance campaign going with my new gaming group. And of course I look forward to more adventures in the City State of the Invincible Overlord! Bottom line, I am having an incredible time on Wednesday nights, and I hope that continues for many Wednesdays to come!

I’m a total Castles & Crusades believer. That being said, I do have to push aside the occasional bout of gamer ADD! I’ve found myself more and more interested in the Moldvay Basic and Expert sets, and by extension Labyrinth Lord. I am also enamored of the Core and Complete incarnations of Swords & Wizardry. This boils down to the fact that I intend on running some games using some combination of these rules. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so much goodness about how many people are having a great time with them.

A couple of the Wednesday Night C&C folks have told me more about Savage Worlds, and I find myself intrigued by that game system. It seems like a good set of rules to use if one wanted to run a game set in the Old West, or even a mythical version of the Old West. As a matter of fact, I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series…

OK, I have to cut myself off there! In all, it’s been a great year all around! I look forward to what the next year may hold! As always, happy gaming!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This Thing of Ours...

The title of this post is a reference to the euphemism the mobsters in the Sopranos used to refer to their, er, occupation. It makes me think of another group of people that might have members unwilling to share the truth of what they do: gamers. I think you'll agree that many of us downplay or outright hide or penchant for roleplaying from most of the people we know in our lives.

There are, of course, degrees of this reticence. Some gamers might talk openly with just a few good friends about the entirety of their love for the hobby, but never breathe a word to anyone else. Some might be alright with letting anyone they know get just a hint of what they're into. And there are so many other variations on this theme.

I personally talk to my wife and a few old friends openly, and there may be occasional acquaintances that I might let a hint or two slip out, but otherwise I keep things on the down low. Except for the occasional reading of RPG products in public, which I like to do sometimes in the off chance of meeting another gamer...and to challenge myself to let go of worrying about the roleplaying stigma that pop culture has bestowed upon the larger public.

The one newbie gamer I know in my group absolutely does not want anyone beyond our group to know any hint of his recent gaming efforts. Not even his wife. Especially not his wife.

So here's the question of the day: how do you fly your roleplaying flag, if at all? Who do you trust with the truth? Do you shout it proud for all to hear? Or is it a dirty little secret? Or something entirely different?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Early-Afternoon Reflections & Some Gamer ADD

Well, as I near my 100th post, I've been reflecting on the events in my renewed roleplaying career since June of last year. That's when I started this blog. I don't really have time to do a year-in-review post at the moment, but I might do something like that for the actual 100th post. I want to take a look at my progress over the last year as far as actual gaming is concerned, refocus on the purpose of my blog and consider what I might do differently going forward, and perhaps make some predictions on what the future may hold. On the matter of roleplaying, I definitely feel like I need to make my own destiny, so the future will truly only be what I make it. And there's a part of me that is saying "You've been doing this for a year and you only have 100 posts?! Weak!"

I also wanted to report that I am currently suffering Gamer ADD again. This time, of all things, I find myself longing to possess the Mentzer Basic and Expert box sets. I know, I know, there are those out there that are going to start saying that the Moldvay Basic and Cook/Marsh Expert are superior, and that Mentzer's work is a "kiddified" version of D&D. I wish I had copies of all of those sets, so I could compare for myself. QUESTION: can anyone give me a summary of the differences, and the pros and cons of each? I am sure that there has to be such a comparison out there in the blogosphere. Oh, and I'm not sure if I should bring the Holmes thing into the mix...ugh.

I have a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia, so I technically don't need the Mentzer stuff. But I dug up some PDFs of the Mentzer books on the Internet, and I find myself enamored by them. Why? I have to admit that I'm not really sure. It might be pure nostalgia, and not necessarily the good kind. As some of you may know by now, I never really played "regular" D&D. I started out playing Advanced D&D as a kid. I may have been around the D&D books (like the Rules Cyclopedia) but my friends and I never used that other stuff. We were 1E PHB, DMG, and MM all the way.

Maybe the Mentzer stuff appeals on a very shallow level, since they contain a lot of art from Larry Elmore. Elmore was also the primary artist for the early Dragonlance novels, and we all know how I feel about Dragonlance by now.

It's only in recent years that I've payed more attention to the OD&D works. I've stated here before that I didn't really care to learn the difference between Holmes and Moldvay and Mentzer, but it's sort of seeping in through osmosis. Yet I find myself getting more and more curious about those box sets. Maybe it's a seed of gamer puritanism within me. Sure, I could use Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry or some other retroclone. But there's something about using the original books that somehow appeals.

Oy, it's enough to drive one insane! For now, I need to return a bit to reality and stick to the good gaming I have going on at the moment. Enough with the grass is greener stuff, right?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Let's Hear It for 35!

Ay, I've got 35 followers (a.k.a. Minions) as of today! That's one follower for every year I've been alive! Not bad for a guy who doesn't really post that often (I would love to do so more often...working on it...)

You like me, you really like me! Though, I'm not entirely sure why you like me! Are my posts interesting enough for you guys? Maybe my more recent stuff has been a bit more engaging. I know I've mostly been posting the ups and downs of my gaming situation. There's not much here in the way of deep musings or gaming "philosophy," and I haven't been posting a lot of usable materials such as maps, magic items, adventure hooks, etc. (though I have always intended to do so...maybe someday...)

So maybe some of you just like hearing personal stories of someone actually trying to play/run games?

Ok, I'll go ahead and formally ask the question of you, the reader: why do you follow/read my humble blog?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The "N" Word

I just thought I’d expand upon my view of nostalgia that I briefly touched upon in my “Dragonlance love” post from earlier today:

We're all hit with nostalgia now and then. It all depends on how you view nostalgia, though, that makes the difference. In many of the blogs I read, the "n" word is viewed in a negative light, and is treated as something that is ultimately a frivolous and non-productive emotion. I personally feel that there can be negative or positive nostalgia.

If your nostalgia does not inhibit you from moving forward, then it is probably a good thing. Take me, for instance. I feel that nostalgia for the gaming days of my youth led me to discover the OSR, which in turn bolstered my long-dreamt-of return to table-top gaming. Thus the oft-dreaded "n" served a purpose: it motivated me to become active and "fight" to return to the hobby (and to create a blog to help focus my efforts and also to tap into a community for a morale boost).

However, a “bad” reaction to my nostalgia might have caused me to passively skim through some retroclones, then maybe spend/“waste” some time flipping lazily through some of the old game books I have in my bookshelf, and then shelve everything again in despair.

This may be an oversimplification, as many factors went into my return to RPGs. You can learn more by reading my gamer testimonial.

All that said, I personally would NOT want to go back and use the actual AD&D 1st edition books. I actually recently took a look at PDF copies of the old triumvirate (PHB, DMG, and MM), and I have to say I quickly discovered that they did not appeal to my current, much older, self with all my adult duties and limited time. I appreciate the efforts of the creators of the ‘clones, because they have done the work of reorganizing the old rules into a form that I can use with minimal time and effort.

Hope this all makes sense. It’s late on a Friday afternoon, after all.

For the Love of Dragonlance

I was originally going to write a post called “In Defense of Dragonlance,” and make my best attempt at crafting a manifesto of sorts. I imagined that I would, with one post, make a bold stand against all the supposed haters of that setting and sweep away their arguments in one fell swoop.

But I’ve thought better of all that. Mainly because I realized that I don’t really have any problems with what I’ve seen written about Dragonlance on gaming blogs. Specifically, a post entitled “How Dragonlance Ruined Everything” written by preeminent RPG sage James Maliszewski was going to be a particular target of my nascent ire. How dare he state such a thing?!

I took some time to reread his post, since I hadn’t read it in a long time. And I came to remember what I had forgotten: what James discusses in his post and what I feel about Dragonlance literally exist in two different realms.

James approaches the setting from a practical direction. The gist of his post, to try and simplify it for the sake of brevity (I encourage you to read it for yourself), is that Dragonlance set into motion some bad trends for Dungeons & Dragons. TSR used the setting to springboard into a direction that saw the game become less about sandbox play and more about creating “story,” in a negative sense. By “story” I think James is referring to the pitfall of railroading. Story here refers to a trend toward consciously trying to “force” a D&D campaign to make some sort of narrative sense from game session to game session. For James, the “story” of a roleplaying campaign should be something that one sees in retrospect, after many game sessions have passed and the players’ characters have gone through many adventures.

This is really no different from the process of writing a novel. The author must complete the writing of the novel before it truly becomes a cohesive story. One can also look at the events of the Lord of the Rings books. The novels that compose the series are actually the recounting of the quest to destroy the One Ring by Frodo Baggins as a sort of memoir. This memoir would eventually become a book called the Red Book of Westmarch in Frodo’s world (the Red Book also includes Bilbo’s own tale, There and Back Again, which in our world is The Hobbit).

So, to relate all of this to roleplaying, the exploits of player characters in a campaign are what become the story. One should never worry about creating a cohesive story while a campaign is being played.

So, I agree with James. I’ve looked through the original Dragonlance modules over the years and I have to say, I do not like how they were executed. Why were they so geared toward pregenerated characters, having players adhere for the most part to how events unfolded in the novels? There was no need to have done things that way. TSR could very well have published modules that, for instance, were set during the War of the Lance, but the players could be given the choice of what they wanted to do during the war. In other words, TSR could have made it clear that there was no need to adhere to the Dragonlance canon, and that they could create alternate events in the war in the usual organic way that RPG campaigns play out.

Yes, in reading James’ post again, I can’t say that I can refute any of his opinions. And actually, I wouldn’t want to do so. This is because my connection, my affection, for Dragonlance has nothing to do with the practical end of things. It has nothing to do with the modules, TSR’s potential use of the setting as a means of creating a “franchise” that would generate steady revenue, or the impact of the setting and the novels on the course of D&D’s evolution.

I can read James’ post and agree with it freely, because my approach to Dragonlance is purely emotional, rather than practical. You might even call it nostalgia, but I believe it’s the good kind of nostalgia. I’ve stated before on this blog my thoughts on how there are different types of nostalgia. Nostalgia that is an obsession with one’s long-lost youth is negative. Nostalgia that is a subtle and grounded cherishing of what once was is, I believe, positive, and may even give rise to a new perspective on the object of one’s nostalgia. This refreshed view of something from one’s past may even be a means of reinvigorating what was long lost from one’s life.

This is how I view rolelplaying in my current life. I had spent years mourning over how long it had been since I roleplayed. Once I gave that up, I was free to set aside thoughts of the hobby for some time, and then return to it again years later with a more positive attitude. It is this attitude that I am now fostering, and I see it as the energy behind my current return to the table-top.

So it really doesn’t matter to me whether or not Dragonlance had an adverse effect on D&D or the hobby as a whole. Indeed, as a side note, I’ve always thought of roleplaying as a grass roots effort at its heart. Once you get the rule books home from the store, you can choose to shut out the future developments of the game and its publisher and do what you want with it, with no ill effects. You don’t need to go to conventions, you don’t need to buy every splatbook, unless that’s how you approach the hobby.

What really matters to me is that Dragonlance novels were the start of my lifelong love affair with fantasy. Now, I know that some would argue that that is a sad fact. It would have been better if I had discovered Tolkien, Howard, Leiber, Vance, or any of the other luminaries that are credited with forging the foundations of fantasy literature as we now know it. I refute such a thought, because as I sit here today, I have far more books on my shelves that do not carry the Dragonlance logo. The novels by Weis and Hickman, and other Dragonlance authors, brought me into the genre. From there, I moved on to discover the classics as well as the writings of more recent generations of fantasy authors.

As I stated in my gamer testimonial on this blog, Stormblade by Nancy Varian Berberick was the first Dragonlance novel I read. It was the first fantasy novel I read. I remember feeling a strong connection to the genre from the very first chapter. I intend to reread the novel, having read it over 20 years ago. I don’t know if it will stand the test of time as far as its actual execution as a novel, but I know that that won’t change the place the book has in my personal evolution. I’ll always have a soft spot for it, and the other early Dragonlance novels.

I want to chronicle my rereading of Stormblade here on the blog, to give you my thoughts and impressions as I go through this seminal book in my personal gaming life.

I’ve also been feeling like I need to resurrect my plans to run a campaign set on the world of Krynn. But I will be sure not to railroad my players. I will be sure to tell any players who are well versed in the Dragonlance setting that they should not expect my campaign to adhere to the developments in the novels.

In all, I do feel it’s high time for me to revisit my Dragonlance roots. That means some rereading. And this rereading, like nostalgia, may lead to a new appreciation. And perhaps something more…

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I've hit the big time now...

Well, recently, I put myself in harm's way when I decided to freely communicate with the person behind Your Dungeon is Suck. Now I've run afoul of Alexis over at Tao of D&D. I've had my differences with him but have sought to bury the proverbial hatchet. I lost my temper a bit and made some harsh comments. I regret that. Alexis seems to me to be a bit of an eccentric...or he just has a persona he projects through his blog, a character he likes to portray. Enough conjecture, I'm probably way off base. The point is, I've come to my senses. I'm willing to live and let live.

Anyway, I became the subject of a post on his blog this week. I feel strangely honored...and scared!

Now, what would it be like to get Alexis, Your Dungeon is Suck guy, and maybe Malcolm Sheppard over at Mob United together in a cage match? Place your bets!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vengeance and Remembrance

When it comes to this blog, I like to keep my chocolate away from my peanut butter. In other words, I make it a point to steer clear of discussion of real world matters. There are enough pundits with opinions out there without me adding to the blather. And I really do want to keep this blog as pure and focused on gaming as possible.

But today, the day after the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of US Special Forces, I feel obliged to at least say a little something about it. I hope you bear with me.

I would suggest that everyone, on a personal level, take some time to sit and just contemplate. Digest things. Think about things as they pertain to you and your life since September 11, 2001. Tune out the news shows and all the many newsfeeds that bombard us through all manner of outlets these days. Don’t let others start filling your head with all their opinions, not just yet. Save that for tomorrow or the next day.

For now, just explore your own feelings, as you probably did on that bright September day almost a decade ago, when the world changed forever. Then, you might have been filled with dread and a certain horrified awe as you watched the world change forever. Now, almost a decade later, explore what you feel now. Maybe you will find parallel experiences, but this time the genesis of those emotions is profound relief or even happiness, instead of terror and uncertainty. And perhaps you can let yourself think that current events may somehow help alleviate the negative effects of what happened ten years ago. Perhaps the world has again changed forever, but for the better this time.

The man who set the ominous tone to the beginning of the 21st century is dead. That fact might not erase his legacy completely, but it at least may be some small comfort. Perhaps this can be the true first step to reclaiming this still-new century from the shadow he helped cast over it. I suppose I don’t have any illusions that we can ever return to the blissfully unaware days of the late 20th century. And deep down perhaps I wouldn’t want that. But at the same time, I think of my children, and I wonder at what world they will grow up in.

I suppose that depends on my wife and I, and how we teach them to approach the world no matter what state it may be in. But they will never know a world without the aftereffects of 9/11. And that makes me sad. But I also remember that I can teach them that they have a choice every day to be happy. But they must also be aware of the world around them, because there are those that wish them ill. But has it ever been any other way, really? Perhaps the America I knew in my youth simply did a better job of making the realities of the wider world seem no threat to us.

Today is a good day to remember that we must always remember. On September 11, 2001, I was only about a month into a new job. I was still relatively fresh out of college and my career was ahead of me. On that morning, I remember a small news tidbit on Yahoo that was just a sentence about a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. It was such a small sentence, and I remember thinking that something like a small Cessna had crashed into it. But soon enough the whole office was flooding into the lunch room and gaping at the TV, watching smoke billowing out of the first tower. We were all in that room when the second plane hit, and I’ll never forget the wordless wailing that went up, the shouts declaring the impossibility of what was happening. I’ll never forget the horribly contorted faces of my coworkers as they stared about at each other or turned to run to their desks to call loved ones.

Today is also a day that sometimes we can savor revenge. Sometimes we can take some solace in ancient eye-for-an-eye, life-for-a-life justice. I’m not a big believer in vengeance when I’m in my calmer, more rational moments. I believe it only perpetuates hatred and violence. But when angry I, like many others no doubt, welcome swift retribution for those who clearly think they are superior to other human beings.

Osama bin Laden was that kind of person. He believed he was better than everyone. He believed some twisted version of god had blessed him. He wasn’t a Muslim. He was a manipulator and a self-serving hypocrite. He sent others to their deaths while he hid himself away. He was a coward, a schemer, conniver, and manipulator. He was no different than Hitler, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and so many others throughout history, demagogues that for some inexplicable reason had a deadly charisma that entranced far too many individuals. These are people who claim to be guided by higher powers or purposes, but who are truly only motivated by one thing: self-deification. For these unfortunately powerful individuals, perhaps the only true way to silence them is death. Perhaps this is the only real situation in this world when death is absolutely called for without question.

I for one am glad he is dead. This is a fitting bookend to the last decade. I am going to hold onto a kernel of hope that this death will be a signal that we can throw off the pall of doubt and fear that this self-righteous, self-serving, cowardly murderer cast over our the current era. Perhaps those he once duped will wake up to the fact that their self-made god was indeed just a liar who sought to profit from the deaths of others.

So for now, I will smile when I watch video of joyous crowds around the world erupting into spontaneous communal celebration. Today there is no wailing in anguish, and the screams I hear are those of relief and exultation. I’ll let the events wash over me and let myself feel the moment. And I will remember how differently I felt all those years ago when horror prevailed, and thank God that this time the epicenter of current events is happiness, at least for today.