Thursday, February 27, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Days 26 & 27

Well, this here challenge is almost over! I have to admit, I'm looking forward in particular to tomorrow's topic, because I have a lot to say about what D&D taught me. I'm also interested to read my fellow Blog Hoppers' posts on that subject. Now, on to today's topics (it's a two-fer!):
Day 26: Do you still game with the people who introduced you to the hobby?
Sadly, no. Ah, I do so miss those long-ago days when I gamed with the guys with which I grew up. We've tried now and then in recent years to get back to the roleplaying table, with only limited success. I have to stress that said limitation was on my part, really. How so? Well, I'm pretty sure I have ADD, and I'm not just talking about Gamer ADD. As a result, my attention span for RPGs has, at times over the last few years, been veeeery short.
Basically, my two old friends and I met so infrequently to roleplay back in 2010 (see the above link to a post from that year) that my ADD (whichever kind) drove me insane...rendering me unable to hack the slow progress of my campaign. And I called it quits.
I know. That's really lame, shitty, and no good excuse...especially in light of how, like many gamers my age or older, whine about wanting to get the old group back together. But there you have it, folks.
Well, actually, I may be too hard on myself. The two old friends didn't seem too devastated that we didn't keep that particular campaign going. Not sure what that says about the quality, but there you go.
Thought: I'm not sure if my regular ADD and Gamer ADD means I have a double dose of the condition when it comes to RPGs, but it sure feels like it sometimes.
Day 27: If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different when you first started gaming?
Hmm. I would have done it more often. I would have been a player more often, rather than mostly DM. I would savor the insane amount of free time I had available to me for the hobby! I would reach out to more people beyond my group to find "fresh blood," and not suffer under the exploits of wackjob gamers.
Okay, I think I need to stop musing on that...otherwise, it might become a rather endless rabbit hole of nostalgia...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 25

"We've been gaming together for so long, we're basically common-law polygamists."

Day 25: Longest running campaign/gaming group you've been in.

Hmmm, well...I played with a group of childhood friends from when I was around 13 until I was in my early 20s. So I have to say that that was my "longest running group" from my original gaming career.
These days, I've been gaming with some good people at my FLGS for a couple years. At the moment, I don't roleplay as much as I used to, but at least I have a group to go back to when I get a chance!

Monday, February 24, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Days 22, 23, & 24

Day 22: First D&D-based novel you ever read (Dragonlance Trilogy, Realms novels, etc.)

That would be STORMBLADE by Nancy Varian Berberick! I was a young lad, still struggling to escape from the clutches of conservative Christian dogma, when I came upon this "unsung hero" of the Dragonlance novel line. Looking back, it seems strange that this is my first experience with a fantasy novel. It's quite a humble introduction, I suppose. But there you go! If you've never read it, go find a copy! I highly recommend it!

Day 23: First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D. Why?

"Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin!

Also, I think of "Ballad of the Adventurers" by David Bowie. Ever heard it? Check out the lyrics:

Sickened by sun, with rainstorms lashing him rotten
A looted wreath crowning his tangled hair
Every moment of his youth apart from its dream was forgotten
Gone the roof overhead, but the sky was always there
Oh you, who are flung out, alike from heaven and from Hades
You murderers who've been so bitterly repaid
Why did you part from the mothers who nursed you as babies
It was peaceful and you slept and there you stayed
Still he explores and rakes the absinthe green oceans
Though his mother has given him up for lost
Grinning and cursing with a few odd tears of contrition
Always in search of that land where life seems best
Loafing through hells and flocked through paradises
Calm and grinning, with a vanishing face
At times he still dreams of a small field he recognises
With a blue sky overhead and nothing else

Day 24: First movie that comes to mind that you associate with D&D. Why?

Conan the Barbarian! Because when I saw it as a kid going through my original gaming experience, it seemed like one big D&D adventure! For all its faults, I love it still! And I DEFY YOU to not be pumped up to play some D&D when you hear THIS:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Codex Nordica: Just over 24 hours left

There's just over 24 hours left for Troll Lord Game's latest Castles & Crusades Kickstarter, CODEX NORDICA! There's already been some great stretch goals that have been attained. If you haven't already, go check it out and be part of bringing some Viking fury to your C&C game...or any other D&D-type game for that matter!

Friday, February 21, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 21

Day 21: First time you sold some of your D&D books.

Well...I've never sold D&D books. Ever! I've sold lots of books from other RPG systems, but never D&D books. Just never had the desire to do so. I can't even part ways with my 3rd Edition core books, despite the fact that I will probably never play it again.
I've only ever "lost" D&D books over the years. As our old group split up, some of our books just went to different people in the group. AND, much to our eternal unhappiness, one of our friends went "hard-core Christian" and somehow "disposed" of a huge bulk of our D&D stuff! Ugh. I hate to think about it even to this day. It was like our own personal RPG Inquisition! I forgave him long ago, but the pain lingers on...
Wait! Maybe that trauma is what keeps me from getting rid of D&D books! 
I think I just had a breakthrough!
P.S. Despite the fact that I used the image above that depicts a book burning, I don't think the guy burned our books. I think he just threw them in the trash. Just as bad, though, in the end.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 20

Day 20: First non-D&D RPG you played.
When I was still in the midst of my First Edition D&D days, somewhere along the way my group and I came upon a copy of a roleplaying book called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures! The 1980's version of the cartoon was in full swing at the time, and I was a fan. I also knew something about the grittier origins of the Turtles in the comics, and found that much more appealing. The cartoon could be quite goofy at times.
The book we aquired was my first exposure to the work of Erick Wujcik, who would later go on to craft my beloved Amber Diceless RPG, and the Palladium RPG company. It also turned out to be a book of adventure scenarios, and therefore contained just stats for NPCs and not the Palladium rules for actual play!
My group dove in, though, with the typical ingenuity of the gamer! We tried on a good number of occasions to create mutant animal characters using D&D rules, but we quickly got frustrated with that path.
Eventually, we got ahold of the actual rule book for Palladium's TMNT (as with the TMNT Adventures book, I'm not sure where we acquired the rules...memory fails again). But by that time, it was sort of a novelty, as we were really absorbed in the D&D world. We played a few times but soon enough we were back in the dungeons again!

Both the above books were a feast for the eyes, as they were illustrated by TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. I'm not sure where my copies of these books wound up, and that's a shame because my son has been exposed to the Turtles via the latest version of the cartoon. I would love to expose him to the RPG. Hmm, is that eBay calling?

Anyway, exposure to Palladium via the TMNT books was the gateway for our group to other RPGs from that company, specifically Ninjas & Superspies, Heroes Unlimited, and of course Rifts. We played those three Palladium games for a few years, until our group broke up as we got older and went our separate know the old story!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 19

This isn't my annoying gamer, but this guy represents the annoying attitude.

Day 19: First gamer who just annoyed the hell out of you.

I have to say that I haven't been annoyed with too many of my fellow gamers. At least, the ones I've played with directly. I've been near players at other tables who were annoying as hell. But usually, I'm a pretty good judge of character and I usually seem to settle in with the right roleplayers who won't be, you know, PENISES.
Let me just say this: I am a self-deprecating person. To a fault, sometimes. When I joke, I'm the butt of those jokes. Unless I'm with good friends and we bust each other's balls. Otherwise, self-deprecation time.
NOW, there's a class of nerd I've been exposed to over the years that uses sarcasm as a weapon in lieu of actual self esteem. You've probably experienced them yourself: they have nothing good to say about anyone else at the table. If there's a girl gaming with you, it's even worse. They ratchet up the nerd-sarcasm to the Nth degree.
I know their jibes and jabs are born of self-loathing and self-pity, but I just can't stomach it. Probably because I've always gone out of my way to do the exact opposite of what they do.
With all that preamble out of the way, the first gamer to ever annoy me coincidentally came into my teenaged gaming fold about the time we got into 2nd Edition D&D. He was indeed one of the sarcasm-slinging nerds. He also happened to be the one and only gamer who insisted on being an evil character all the time. His favorite type of character? Drow anti-paladins. 'Nuff said.
He also took, uh, kendo, I guess. You know, the martial art focused on using swords. So, do you know where this is going? Yes, that's right: every fight became an exercise in extreme tedium, because he absolutely had to CHOREOGRAPH each fight in excruciating detail. When it came time for his turn, he would jump up from his seat, grab his wooden practice sword, and begin to go through the motions of showing what stance he would take, and how his inevitable flurry of blows would progress, one step at a time.
This whole thing was made all the more ridiculous due to D&D's famously abstract combat system.
We played with this guy for a while, but eventually the rest of us got tired of his verbal abuse as well as his absurd insistence on creating intricate slow-motion "sword-fu" scenarios during sessions. Why did we put up with him? Well, we were a pretty insular group of lower-middle-class kids, with no real interest in branching out to find new players further afield (i.e. in another town). Yes, we were shy and wary of those potential gamers beyond our group of long-time friends.
Also...being dirt poor and living in South Jersey, GenCon basically took place on the moon every year. That's how improbable it was that any of us would get there. And living in South Jersey, as I've stated before, is basically living in the FLGS post-apocalypse.
But eventually we grew apart, went separate ways, and the nightmare that was that particular phase of my gaming career came to a blessed end! Here's to better days, and better gamers I have discovered since then!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Days 15-18

Argh, Multi-armed Multitasking Monster! Run!
Yep, playing catch-up, kids. Sorry aboot that. Just been swamped. Between family, work, aspirations, and a whole lotta friggin' snow, it's been nutso!
Anyway, excuses over. Here's what I have to say about Days 15 through 18:
Day 15: What was the first edition you didn't enjoy. Why?
That would be 3rd Edition. Bleh. When 3rd came out, I had been outta the D&D loop for, well, many years. I of course was curious about how the game had changed from 2nd Edition, which was the last one I had played (and I hadn't played since before 2nd went OOP). I bought the new D&D and started to read...aaaaand was like "f*ck the WHAT?!" Feats? Can you say "needless complication"?

Well, I have to say that there's something to be said for how the context of your life at the time you're exposed to something has a big impact on your reactions. Like I said, I was out of the D&D and RPG loop in general when 3rd Edition came out. So I really wasn't in a place in my life where I had the time or the interest to get into the nitty gritty of learning the new rules.

Plus, there was probably some sort of nostalgia barrier I had erected, and rose-tinted glasses when it came to my wonderful roleplaying youth. Nothing would ever be the same when it came to roleplaying for me, because I was no longer that teenager who first experienced AD&D.

Day 16: Do you remember your first edition war? Did you win? ;)

Meh, never really got into edition wars. I like 4th Edition even less than 3rd, but I never gave anyone grief for playing either of those versions. If you love an edition, for whatever reason, I say go for it! Play, enjoy, have fun! Hey, if I had been a 13-year-old kid when I discovered 3rd or 4th edition, perhaps I would love them as much as I love 1st Edition AD&D.

Day 17: First time you heard D&D was somehow "evil."

Oh, I've already explored this in an early post in this Blog Hop, as well as other posts I've written in the past. Take a gander at those, please!

Day 18: First gaming convention you ever attended.

Never really did the convention thing, when it comes to the big conventions like GenCon or others big enough to actually be held at, you know, convention centers. The first real "convention" I ever attended wasn't until 2011, when the Troll Lord folks came to the East Coast for TrollCon East. It was a small event, but a convention nonetheless! Read about it HERE!

Friday, February 14, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 14



Day 14: Did you meet your significant other while playing D&D?

Heck no! I married the most wonderful woman in the world, but roleplaying in any form is not her cup of tea at all. She hates the whole "pretending to be someone else" thing, to be specific. Not because she can't do it, but because she just doesn't enjoy it.
So, to be clear, she doesn't hate RPGs, or the fact that I roleplay. She's pretty indifferent about it. She knows I like it, and I don't think she quite understands the appeal. But she gives me no crap for being into roleplaying games.
How do I know she loves me? Well, she once overcame her distaste for the "play-acting" aspect of roleplaying by bringing up the subject of gaming during vacation. I blogged about it a while back. She wanted to do something she thought would make me happy, and I also think she was genuinely curious about what I saw in the hobby. Since then, I've asked her if she wanted to try it again, and she hasn't hesitated to say "no." Once was enough for her.
To each their own!
There was a second part to today's Blog Hop topic, which said we could "post a randomly generated monster in protest of Valentine's Day." Well, I've decided to interpret that as I see fit, and created the corny V-Day themed creature I call the BLENDIGO! This malevolent spirit of loneliness possesses those made vulnerable by a broken heart. Once it inhabits the human form, the hapless victim feels an uncontrollable urge to rip out the hearts of happy people and tear them to bits!

In the modern age, the creature has been given the name "blendigo" because of its weapon of choice: the blender! Why be a monster who is stuck in the dark ages, rending its victims with just claws and teeth? Progress, baby!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 13

See the little paper people in this pic? Yeah, I still have those...

Day 13: First miniature(s) you used for D&D.

As a kid, we didn't really use minis. One, we were poor, so buying a horde of minis was sorta out of the question. Two, we believed our imaginations were enough. If and when we needed a more visual representation of a battle, we would draw up a quick sketch of the situation.
As a matter of fact, I have really only experienced the use of minis for RPGs in the last few years, since I came off my last great roleplaying hiatus. I decided to try minis this time around, just to see what all the hubbub was about.
I think minis are fine, and I did appreciate having the visual representation of combat. It puts less strain on the old brain, and it makes combats more interesting from a tactical standpoint. HOWEVER...that ability to make combat more detailed also has the effect of dragging out combat, I've found. Because players suddenly want to analyze the "board" like WWII generals, you know?
The reason for me using the pic of D&D Black Box for this post? Because I have a mishmash collection of minis right now, and that collection includes a bunch of paper minis from the old Black Box, along with some more modern paper minis I printed out from The Fantasy Trip website. I also have a small gathering of WotC's plastic minis, as well as some red beads that can serve as a horde of one type of creature as needed. So, my minis are nothing fancy, and I'm fine with that.
Oh, I also use "the paper sketch method" these days, and in addition I picked up a small dry erase board to sketch on as well. Those work just fine when I don't feel like bothering with the minis.
When I come back to the gaming table in the future, I'll consider using minis again. But I don't think they'll ever trump the use of pure imagination.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 12

Day 12: First store where you bought your gaming supplies. Does it still exist?

To be honest, for many years I didn't buy any roleplaying books or other gaming supplies. Why? Because my group already had a ton of stuff that my friends had bought (not sure where they got it all because I never asked), and we had everything we needed!
After that, when I finally moved on to other RPGs, I bought books mostly via mail. Yes, before the advent of the Internet, there was mail order, kids. In particular, I distinctly remember seeing the ads in Dragon magazine for Amber Diceless RPG, and ordering the rule book using those ads. Ah, those were the days!
Speaking of Dragon, I used to pick up copies of the magazine in Waldenbooks. Remember those? I'm pretty sure I also picked up a good number of roleplaying books from Waldenbooks, especially White Wolf games like Vampire: The Masquerade and the rest...
Then, there were the Wizards of the Coast retail stores! Remember THOSE? One of those sprang up in a mall near me, and after that I forgot about Waldenbooks for my gaming needs. Yeah, I know I bought a lot of *get ready to cringe* RIFTS RPG BOOKS at that Wizards of the Coast store. Ironically enough, I barely bought what I think that store was supposed to be selling: Magic the Gathering cards. The store of course had the requisite case of rare Magic cards on display for ridiculous prices ("HOW MUCH for a Wrath of God card?!").
Well, thinking back, I know I bought my share of Magic cards, but I got them from Waldenbooks just as much as I got them from the WotC store. I think there was one hobby shop that also had Magic cards...memory fails me again.

Then of course Borders and Barnes & Noble rose to power. And I definitely bought roleplaying books from those behemoths.
NOW, all of this probably sounds like sacrilege to you, eh? "Anthony, why weren't you going to your FLGS when you wanted to buy gaming stuff?!?"
Well, I'll tell you: Southern New Jersey appears to be a perennial brick-and-mortar RPG wasteland. In other words, it seems to be where the FLGS goes to DIE! At least, it used to be that way.
Look, there was hobby store in a local mall that also existed for a while when I was a kid. It wasn't a chain, and in addition to RPGs it carried stuff for other hobbies like model cars and all that crap. But it didn't have the best selection, you know?
In addition, there were a couple gaming stores that sprang up here and there, but they were also gone very quickly back in the old days. There was also one store that I hoped would sell roleplaying stuff but it was just packed with grumpy old wargamers playing with hordes of miniatures. I went in there like once, and when I did I got a look like I was the guy who got bathed in nuclear waste in the original Robocop movie. Hmm, now that I think about it, maybe they were still playing Chainmail, even in the late 80's/early to mid-90's...their miniatures didn't look like Warhammer 40K, if I recall properly. But I'm sure that stuff was mixed in there as well...
Maybe these stores from my youth failed because they became the haunts of just the hard-core owners and their insular hard-core gamer friends. That's no way to run a business, guys. Guess you figured that out years ago...
Suffice to say that everything mentioned above-from Dragon magazine to Waldenbooks to the mom-and-pop hobby shops to the WotC stores-are long gone. Wow, that really sucks to think about that. more recent years, South Jersey seems to have given rise to at least a couple gaming stores that have thrived. Perhaps the most successful (that I know of) is All Things Fun in West Berlin, NJ. As regular readers should know, I've done most of my gaming there for the last few years. It's a wonderful place run by wonderful people, and they recently opened a second store!
The problem with All Things Fun, at least for me, is that it is pretty far from my home. It's a bit over a half-hour away. Now, some of you might be like "that's no big deal!" But, uh, yeah, for a guy with a family it can be tough to justify the drive in addition to the time spent gaming.
Now, there's a newer store really close to my house that opened in the last couple years. It's apparently doing well and has a lot of RPG action going on at any time. HOWEVER, I've never felt very welcome there. The people who frequent it seem rather young, and I worry that I seem like a relic to them (at the ancient age of 38, no less). It's relatively small and dark, where All Things Fun is spacious and bright.
But these two establishments are pretty much it in my area of the world. Unless I get my ass in gear finally and become a wild success in my dream job. Then, when I make my millions, I'll open up my own game store and plop my butt behind the counter (you know, because I won't have to work anymore). And people will be able to come and game anytime, all day long!
A man needs his dreams...

Codex Nordica on Kickstarter!

Go to: for more info!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 11

Around this point, things started to decline...

Day 11: First splatbook you begged your DM to approve.

Well, I never did any begging of this sort. I was most often a DM/GM, so usually I was the one who was being begged. I have to say the only time I was ever begged was when we were playing Rifts...and we all know that Palladium has basically vomited (for lack of a better term) sourcebooks, world books, etc. for that game over the years.

I was cool with the first few sourcebooks and world books. Heck, I was even cool with some later worldbooks, like the ones for the New German Republic and Russia (some cool tech in those). But some of the stuff was just horrendous. The England world book? F*ck the what?!? I don't even know what was going on with that have to read through it sometime if you get a chance. Just...just really bad things in there...

I think the straw that broke the back of my Rifts-camel was when one of my players desperately wanted to be something called a "Dragon Slayer." This wasn't a class, it was a race...who people called Dragon Slayers. I guess because they were giants who really liked to slay dragons. The race had an actual name, but...were more often just called Dragon Slayers. Yep. Take a look at the scary guy pictured here:
"Uh...seen any dragons?"

Uh huh. Sure. Let's just throw him into the party with the cyborg, the leyline walker, and the Glitter Boy. He won't make things conspicuous at all!

It's a shame, because I think Rifts has some real potential. You just need to have a strict policy with players that the stuff in the splatbooks is to be strictly evaluated for appropriateness for your campaign, and that they shouldn't get their hopes up for playing anything they want to play with impunity. There's going to be standards set. Otherwise...Dragon Slayers.

Monday, February 10, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Days 8, 9, and 10

Sorry, gang. Been busy with life junk, you know how it is. Therefore, got backed up with the Blog Hop posts. So, for your edification, here's my posts for days 8 through 10!
Day 8: First set of polyhedral dice you owned. Do you still use them?
I was gifted my first set of dice by one of my good friends in my original game group as a youth. We were all friends before roleplaying entered our lives, so there was charity and good will all around! Those old dice are lost to the ages, however :-(  Why? Well, I went through a phase where I foolishly made myself believe I was done with roleplaying. So I think I gave the dice back to the old group before we disbanded forever, when adulthood took us all in different, distant directions.
Day 9: First campaign setting (homebrew or published) you played in.
As cash-strapped teens, my original group played in homebrewed worlds most of the time. Here's a tidbit you might find entertaining: as a young lad, yours truly once created a world I dubbed "Anthonis." Yes, that's right. I basically named an imaginary world after myself, in a very awkward-sounding way I might add. The height of hubris, eh? Well, perhaps...but who doesn't want a world named after them, eh? ;-)

Seriously, as a kid with lots of free time, I did indeed whip up a few worlds, with maps I drew myself and all the trimmings devised by my fevered little imagination! Those were the days of frenetic, joyous creation, no doubt!
Day 10: First gaming magazine you ever bought (Dragon, Dungeon, White Dwarf, etc.)

Why, Dragon Magazine, of course! It was the emperor-publication of my gaming universe! What a gateway for strange new roleplaying horizons! It was what brought my attention to a community of like-minded individuals beyond my tiny suburban town. Ah, what a wonderful, awesome thought that was, to know I wasn't alone out there! It introduced me to games beyond D&D (the spectrum of Pallasium's games, and perhaps most of all my beloved Amber Diceless RPG!) It was like pizza: even when it wasn't great, it was still good!

There you have it, kids! See you tomorrow!

Friday, February 7, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 7

Day 7: First D&D Product you ever bought. Do you still have it?
I know I've mentioned on this blog before that I never played Basic D&D when I was a kid. We jumped into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons right from the start, with the good old First Edition books.
However, that didn't stop me from exploring the Basic side of things. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the first D&D product I ever bought was the "Black Box" Basic D&D set. I followed my purchase of the Black Box with what most would probably consider a far superior acquisition: the Rules Cyclopedia.
Even though I bought these items, I never used them. Well, I think I did use the paper minis that came with the Black Box for some of our AD&D games, but we never used the Basic Rules. I think I'm like a lot of gamers when it comes to buying games I never wind up using. 
I've managed to hold on to the Rules Cyclopedia and a portion of the Black Box stuff. I still have the DM screen (seen in the picture above) with tabbed inserts, as well as the rule book and the paper minis. The box and game board are long gone, however.

I just used the Black Box paper minis for my recent roleplaying ventures with my kids. Isn't it a wonderful-strange feeling, to use some old gaming stuff from your youth with your own kids? The cycle continues...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 6

Day 6: First character death. How did you handle it?
You know, maybe I'm just too old for this blog hop. Because I'm having a hard time remembering some of this stuff. Or maybe I just "had too much college" in my late teens and early 20's, if you know what I mean. Sadly, I remember the traumatic events of my childhood more clearly than the good stuff. Post-traumatic stress and all that. 
Anyway...first character death? Okay, first of all, I have to admit that my original D&D group, when I was a kid, was entirely composed of guys averse to character death. That includes your humble servant. I guess there goes the last of whatever little "OSR cred" I had, if I ever had any to begin with. 
Yeah, unlike a lot of gamers of the old-school mentality, the kids in my teenaged gaming group rarely let the dice "fall where they may." Yes, there was damage dice fudging. Basically, characters who got dropped to zero hit points or less were knocked out, and usually nursed back to full health faster than you could say "healing potion."
So our TPKs back in the day were "total party knock-outs." I guess we decided that monsters would just wander away after they put us to sleepy-time.
Whatever, don't judge. We were kids, and furthermore we were kids that wanted to be heroes, if only in our imaginations. And the heroes we saw in comic books, TV shows, movies, and novels didn't die. They just had "setbacks." That's what getting chopped down to 0 HP was: a setback. Sometimes a major one, as often you would awaken to find some of your cool stuff gone.
Anyway, I'm rambling. So, yeah, PC death was rather rare for me as a kid. I vaguely remember a paladin dying (as I've written about before, I have a soft spot for paladins). He might have been killed by another player character, actually. Other than's all foggy!

One thing's for sure, I definitely handled it better than old Marcie:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 5

Day 5: First character to go from 1st level to 20th level (or highest possible level in a given edition)
Sorry folks. I've never taken a character to 20th level/the highest possible level in a given edition. I guess I'm just a lover of low-levels! To compensate for your disappointment, here's a picture of a cute elf couple (so there's something for the ladies AND the gentlemen):

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 4

Day 4: First dragon you slew (or some other powerful monster)

I'm giving a trick answer to this one: the first powerful monster I slew was my fear of Dungeons & Dragons.
As I've written about before, my mother was once a very devout follower of the Baptist church. In her well-meaning attempt to save the souls of her children, she adopted a very hardline stance against anything the church told her was evil. This included things like rock music and Dungeons & Dragons. Our church even sponsored events such as a visit from a speaker who gave a lecture about the many insidious ways in which Satan attracts youth to the yawning pit of Hell. He pointed to the use of "backward masking" to embed messages about Satan in music, witchcraft symbolism on album covers to signify pacts a band had struck with the Devil in exchange for commercial success...and magic spells and depictions of demons in D&D.
You know where this is going. Sure enough, the Jack Chick "Dark Dungeons" pamphlet was part of my mom's arsenal to "scare me straight." Like any little kid (the indoctrination started before I was a teenager), I looked up to and trusted my parents without question. If my mom said something was evil and would cause me to suffer eternal torment, that was the truth.
Of course, as we get older, we realize (for good or ill) that our parents are indeed human, with the foibles and failings to which we are sometimes vulnerable. My mother meant well, but as I grew I came to chafe under the strictures of the Baptist dogma. I just couldn't believe that I had to live in fear of a game.
Still, when my good friend Pat (who introduced me to the hobby) showed me his 1E AD&D books, I remember a moment where I had a thrill of fear. Here were the books I was told were a veritable gateway to damnation! The old church training lingered for a while. But as I read through the books, played the game, and realized that I wasn't being compelled to try and cast "real spells," I left the slain corpse of the "fear monster" behind.

So, has anyone else had to overcome a personal religious aversion to D&D? Have you had to endure the persecution of others for playing the game? I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, February 3, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 3

Day 3: First dungeon you explored as a PC or ran as a DM

Contrary to the stereotype of D&D as a game focused on dungeon exploration, from my very first experiences with the game I mostly found myself running and playing in wilderness/surface-based campaigns. As a kid, we were more often tromping around the countryside seeking adventure. I guess that was just a quirk of my own group growing up. Yeah, there wasn't a ton of dungeon in our Dungeons & Dragons back then. You'd think that was counter-intuitive, right? Given the perception that dungeons are more contained, and therefore easier to run, than wilderness encounters.
I'm pretty sure the first real exposure I had to any dungeon of considerable size was Undermountain. I remember seeing the cover illustration (see above) and feeling a strong evocation of what some in the RPG blogosphere call "the mythic underworld." Look at the snaking corridor of arched doorways, and the shadowy creature lurking in the distance! Awesome, right?
Over the last couple years, since my return to roleplaying, I've made an effort to run some more dungeon encounters, but nothing approaching the underground marathons I've read about on blogs. What about you: have you ever been in a group that wasn't particularly fond of dungeon-delving when playing D&D, or at least didn't have a lot of dungeon time in general?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 2

Day 2: First person you introduced to D&D? Which edition? Their first character?
Well, I introduced my wife and a couple friends to Basic D&D in a cabin while on vacation a while back, and posted about it here. Now, all three of them were pretty much just trying it out as a one-shot, "let's see what all this is about because Anthony is nuts about it" kinda deal. It really wasn't anything they would every really want to do again, and that's all good.
But last night I introduced my son and daughter to D&D through Mentzer's Red Box (see the picture above), and it was very cool, and a little surreal. I mean, when you're a kid playing D&D like I was back in the 1980's, you're not sitting there thinking "I can't wait to introduce my own kids to this game!" Well, at least I personally wasn't daydreaming about it back then.
Anyway, yeah, so I've been talking to my kids for a few weeks now about D&D, and finally sat down with them (my son is five and my daughter is seven) to roll up some characters and play a bit. Now, given their ages, I wasn't really a stickler for every rule, especially when it came to my son. He wanted to be a magic-user, and I didn't get too deep into the limitations of spells for a traditional 1st-level D&D magic-user. He insisted that his character had a spell that would teleport bad guys into a nearby volcano. Who was I to argue with that? I told him that the spell made him really tired to he had to rest his character (who he named Wizo Wizo) for a while after he cast it.
My daughter really likes Korra from the latest Avatar series, so she wanted to be a fighter (who she named Wissia). She and Wizo Wizo the wizard are young friends who live in a town called Three Streams. The town is nestled in the foothills of some mountains and is, you guessed it, surrounded by three streams (once again, see the pic above for the map I drew for them...they added in the sun and a giant they called "Crusher").
Well, suffice to say that my kids were really liking D&D and didn't want to stop for the night. We went to be and, in the morning, it turns out they woke up before me and my wife and broke out the D&D stuff on their own, and were playing it on their own! Ah, warms this old gamer's heart! Here's to the next generation!
P.S. At one point over the last couple weeks, when my kids were asking over and over what one does during a D&D game session, I tried my best to explain it to them. They sorta got it, but then I tried to make it easier on them by saying "You can also think of it like an episode of Adventure Time." I'm not so sure how good an idea that was, but since the show's creator is apparently inspired by D&D, it was the best way I could think of to encapsulate it for them and frame it in something they are familiar with...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

D&D@40 Blog Hop: Day 1

OK, it's February, kids! Time for the D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge! For the full list of participating blogs, head over to d20 Dark Ages and take a look! Now, on to my Day 1 post:
Day 1: First person who introduced you to D&D? Which edition? Your first Character?

I know I've mentioned this before on the blog (at least in my RPG testimonial), but my good friend Pat introduced me to D&D when I was around 13 (in the late 80's), and we were pretty much best friends at the time. My mom was horrified, since she was hard-core born-again Christian. In fact, she succeeded in convincing the young me, for a while, that D&D would send my immortal soul screaming into Hell when I died. Ah yes, I was raised with a healthy dose of divine fear.
But Pat, a devout Catholic, didn't seem to have any church-sanctioned, parent-induced fear of D&D. And he persisted in talking to me about it, and over time I finally decided to, you know, think for myself and agreed that D&D wasn't some Satan-crafted tool for collecting souls.
Pat had the First Edition AD&D books with the orange spines, so that was my first version of D&D (not Basic).
As for my first character, I can't say I remember, actually. But I know I was fond of paladins back in the day, and I know I played a few of them in my time.
Well, that's all for my first post! I'm off to read some other blogs!