For the past month or so Iâ€™ve been making a medium-sized effort to get back into RPGâ€™s.Â Iâ€™m a late-30â€™s father of two whoâ€™s been out of the gaming world for 20+ years but has always held a soft spot in my heart for D&D and I cherish the memories of the campaigns of yesteryear.Â I tried this a few years back, sometime around the release of 3.5 I believe, and I mostly failed â€“ I just couldnâ€™t find a game.Â I did however eventually get into the D&D Skirmish Game which I enjoyed immensely and served as somewhat of a surrogate for the real D&D experience (I think I still have a thousand minis or so sitting in a box somewhere).
In poking around this community and other places over the past weeks, Iâ€™ve found something very interesting: Iâ€™m not alone. There seem to be many people of my generation out here who have either never left or are looking to get back in.Â Some of us have even coalesced into a loose movement called the â€śOld School Renaissance.â€ť These devoted grognards love and still play the oldest versions of D&D from back in the 70â€™s and early 80â€™s.Â This is surely old news to most of you, but itâ€™s all new to me and I think itâ€™s really cool.
They have their own magazines and fanzines (Fight On!, Encounter, etc), retro-clone versions of the early rulesets (Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game, etc), as well as thriving communities of players, designers, artists, and bloggers (Dragonsfoot, OD&D Discussion, Philotomy, Retro Roleplaying, Aceum, Back in 81, many others). Aside from general nostalgia for the gameâ€™s early days, the various elements of this gaming subculture seem to agree on one central principle: Simpler is Better. It appears that many have come to this movement in reaction to what they see as the byzantine, top-heavy, min-maxing, rules-lawyering, market-driven madness of todayâ€™s RPG world.Â They long for the days when creativity, imagination and on-the-spot rulings were the order of the day; when rules took a backseat to narrative, shared story-telling and world building; when cooperation and creative adventuring took precedence over hours of tactical combat.
I have to say that even though I consider myself a great lover of tabletop wargaming (did I mention that loved the D&D Skirmish Game?) and have no fear of deep stacks of rulebooks, I find this movement very attractive.Â I remember the thrill of opening my D&D Basic Set.Â I had the 1981 version that included the iconic adventure Keep on the Borderlands, a cheap set of blue dice and a crayon (the dice had no paint so you were supposed to use the crayon to fill in the numbers, then wipe off the excess wax â€“ it didnâ€™t work worth a damn!).
For me, that box also held the key to untold worlds of adventure and excitement.Â So to find, 30 years later, a group of people who say â€śYou know what, Basic D&D rocked and we love it!â€ť warms my heart. Â
This is my first-ever blog post of any kind. Â I may have more to say later, but until then â€“ donâ€™t worry, magic missile always hits!