Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Save vs. Nostalgia or Die

I think I've finally made a crucial Wisdom check.

I don't miss BECMI D&D.

I miss the people I used to game with in middle school. I miss having only a couple of books and supplements to play from and anticipating each new release with unbridled excitement. I miss not knowing every rule and nuance of the game. I miss the old dining room table we used to play around. I miss those clunky Ral Partha and Grenadier lead miniatures. I miss Lemon-Lime Slice.

You see, I have BECMI D&D right here. All the rest - not so much.

Still, I try again and again to recapture some of the glory and excitement of those early adventures. Those forays into abject wonder that I may never experience again - except through gold-tinted memory. Playing by those same rules today will not produce the same results as when I was a teen. I am not that gamer. This is not that game. Is there no hope?

Yes. And no.

I am running a variant of the Basic-Expert rules because there is still the very real threat of defeat and death at almost every turn. Characters are far more limited than in later editions. This is not an attraction for me only as a DM. I do not crave that level of control - I believe the DM can exert control in any incarnation of the rules. The DM holds all the cards. I want to be just as limited as the players. I want to live by my wits and delve deep into my imagination. I want to be challenged and surprised at least as much as the players.

That's the essence of what I miss. Challenge and surprise - and not necessarily in that order. I want adventure before a game. I want the rules and the dice to be almost secondary to the quest.

I also suspect part of the elusive magic formula to be the players. Roleplayers with some investment in the game - that's what I seek. Players willing to seek out a bit of wonder. Players that can run characters beyond the framework of the rules - to do what the heroes would do, and for the same reasons.

But, in the end, there has to be a compelling world and campaign in the offing. A setting and adventure worthy of the players. The final piece of the puzzle, perhaps. Something to urge the heroes to explore boundaries and possibilities.

After so many years and disappointments, do I have enough magic left?


  1. It's all about the players, man. And the GM.
    I miss my Seattle gaming group. When I say I "miss Seattle", what I really mean is that I miss the time of my life when my friends were total geeks and we didn't have anything more pressing to do than play games all night and mainline Mt. Dew and Twinkies, and try to out-clever each other. I mean that I miss the absolute flat-out intellectual power of the collected brains in the room. And I miss the easy, effortless family camaraderie that meant if you wanted a snack, you got up and raided the fridge, regardless of whose house it was (usually mine) or called Domino's, or whined until someone else walked to 7-11, and that if you fell asleep, people just gave you a blanket and carried on. I mean that I miss people who Role Played instead of Roll Played, and who played for the sake of a good story and adventure instead of the thrill of rolling dice. People who didn't rules-lawyer but instead argued for a particular facet of their character, who provided pages of backstory before a campaign began, who maybe didn't even ROLL a character so much as build it.

    I love the game, I really do, but the game played without the right group of players is sadly lacking.

  2. I still wanna game with you, Lisa.

    Oh - and it is great to see you here. Thank you for dropping by my BECMI little corner of the Net.