Beginning at the Beginning

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Having officially restated this blog I wanted to go back to the beginning and start fresh. For me, and for many others, Roleplaying games began with Dungeons and Dragons.

Ah, D&D. It has been my game of choice since was a mere lad of twelve. Now D&D was not the first roleplaying game, but it was certainly the game that put RPGs on the map and has always been THE Roleplaying Game.

I was not around in 1974 when Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson published the original Dungeons and Dragons. I am, however, something of a historian of the game. I loved reading stories about the original games, such as the "Up on a Soapbox" article written by the late Gary Gygax in Dragon Magazine prior to its untimely demise. Furthermore I bought the first edition manuals and have read through them several times. Not having played the game I can't really do a proper review of it, but I can give you my impression.

Awe. Or something like it. Those books set my imagination on fire like nothing I had read in a long time. It was a strange sensation, since we live in a world where we are conditioned to think whatever is new must be better. Fighting through my confusion I had to ask myself why I was so enamored with these books. The answer that I really came to was simple, mystery.
Old D&D or OD&D (and I use the term loosely to mean anything prior to 2nd edition) held far more mystery than any modern edition can boast. Part of that lost mystery comes with the availability of information. Modern day games have unprecedented access to information on things like monsters and magic weapons that old gamers just didn't have. PDFs, SRDs, and all the other convinces of the information age mean that little mystery is left save what the DM creates on his own. Creating things on your own takes not only creativity, which some people lack, but time, which it seems many people these days lack. Can anyone blame the gaming industry for creating supplement after supplement to fulfill the niche needs of its consumer? I can't. Can anyone blame the busy guy who wants to create his own material but has not time so he buys what he needs instead? I wish I could, but I can't. Can anyone blame a player for searching out the supplement the DM purchased so as to be extremely familiar with all the rules presented therein?

Ok, you've got me. There I have a problem.

That tendency is in stark contrast to OD&D where only the DM had the DMG and MM. Rare is the player in today's game that doesn't own all three core books (and probably many supplemental books as well). In OD&D the players were players and didn't flip through DM only books, or at least were not meant to. That's not to say that DMs didn't cross the screen and vice versa, but even when they did the system was so rules light that it fell upon the DM to drive the game with the rulings that he made. Essentially making "house rules" as he went along. I admire the versatility, and speed of the man running the game making the ruling and people going along with it rather than checking book after book looking for a rule that addressed that specific situation.

Now am I saying that OD&D didn't have its problems? Hell no. It most certainly had many problems… The to-hit chart was cumbersome, race and class selections was limited, and balance was a non-existent concept (to name a few).

But OD&D was the Beginning. The game has evolved because of those who began designing and playing the game all those years ago. I admire those people who were a part of the beginning of something very special. Those people who first strapped on a longsword and went forth to battle Orcs and Goblins. Those people who, to borrow a phrase, boldly went where no one had gone before.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 09, 2009 at Thursday, July 09, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



love the new format!!

OD&D normally means original D&D, using it to mean anything prior to second edition is a little too loose of a use of the term for my taste! ;-)

but I do agree with you the different feel older editions of the game had. all my players have DMGs and MMs that they bring to the table and think nothing of it... it sux.

July 9, 2009 at 4:42 PM

couldnt agree more!!

ps - love the new format!!!!

July 11, 2009 at 2:13 AM

Post a Comment