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.


  1. I agree -- nostalgia isn't a bad thing. I don't like it when people suggest that the ONLY reason for playing old school games is nostalgia, because there's more to it than that, but there's also absolutely no reason not to enjoy things for nostalgic reasons.

  2. Matt, a pleasure to have you stop by! Now, to embarrass myself, here's a post I wrote last year that makes me sound like an obsessed fanboy:

    If there's any evidence of how excited I've become to be back in the RPG world, that's it! Sorry for being a dork, what can I say?

  3. Nice post. I periodically run through this 'nostalgia' thing, usually when I wander onto some blog that has it out for the OSR or some garbagey forum. Yes I have feelings and memories stirred when I look at the images in the B/X books, or PHB cover, but because I've been through a hell of a lot of stuff since the early 80s, I don't actually respond to the texts or the gameplay that way I did back then. I realize I wasn't able to play the game the way it was written back then. Now I'm seeing the game as something completely new, not a shadow from the past, or some sacred thing that I need to worship and preserve like a relic.

    And I don't say "those were the days". I spent a lot of time escaping from my hellish home situation by investing my imagination into D&D back then. That was not a fun time in my life at all. Now playing D&D is not an escape, it's a fun time where I get to hang out with people I like and do crazy stuff. I don't want to go back to the way things were 25 years ago. That's not why I play D&D now.