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?