So as you may have been reading in the last few months I’ve been engaged in rediscovering the joys of Dungeons and Dragons, using Roll20 to overcome issues of distance and scheduling with other players. I’d played Dungeons and Dragons in its many forms right from the publication of Basic Dungeons and Dragons and had just started buying the third edition rules when circumstances led to it being impractical for the group I was in at the time to continue.
I still bought third edition rule books and material because I loved the way the D20 system fitted together, but being a new parent and having a stressful job I never got a chance to do anything with them. I then heard such horrible reactions to the fourth edition from friends and acquaintances that I never even gave it a chance, and I wasn’t at all sure to make of the concept of Pathfinder or wanted to have to buy yet another series of core books that seemed to be practically identical.
As for how I started playing, well I was actually introduced to it by my father, who ran a session for my family one evening using the simple adventure included in the back of the rules. (I played a wizard and I got eaten by a giant spider). I remember being swept up in the event, and pestering my dad to do more. Being a busy vicar, it didn’t happen – and I suspect a slightly lukewarm reaction from the other players may have contributed to it too.
Nonetheless, having been inspired by Tolkein and a rapidly expanding library of fantasy and science fiction I kept nagging as only young boys can, and he allowed me to borrow the boxed set. I never looked back. I introduced friends at school to it, and my brothers as they grew a little older, and soon there was a cluster of us who played Dungeons and Dragons, Traveller, Star Wars, Marvel Superheroes and indeed pretty much anything we could get our hands on. This was no small feat in the late seventies and early eighties in the UK.
Indeed, I only got introduced to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons when I went away to boarding school and met people who had been able to secure copies from the States. These precious rulebooks were passed around, and practically hand copied at times as they fell apart. New printings were avidly hoarded and became objects of desire among us. Attaching myself to the Wargames Society at school introduced me to painting figurines. The historical battle recreations were soon supplanted by the fantasy games, and vast epic and interlinked campaigns soon came to dominate the five years I was away.
Gaming with friends and my brothers became a shared glue binding us together with in-jokes and references that still raise smiles twenty years later. Life may have thrown me curve balls in the form of work, family, depression and divorce, but it never suppressed that love of stories and fantasy in me. My brothers all went on to become LARPers, and some of them are still involved in the running and playing of the Aftermath LARP. They keep asking me to come along and join them, but the timing or money has never quite been right to draw me along. Yet.
So the last few months exploration of technology as a way of getting the old gang and some new faces together has been a great joy. Having a wife more than happy to let me disappear into a virtual space every week as a lad’s night is a huge boon. Indeed most of us have families now, so having the ability to step aside from the web cams for a few moments to look after children, or sort out household problems is a lifesaver. That and it’s cheap – no petrol money needed or the stress of being somewhere if the traffic is awkward.
It’s reinvigorated my inner child, given my geekery an infusion of enthusiasm, encouraged me to keep writing and most importantly for the purposes of this blog post has led to me stepping up and agreeing to run sessions again.
So I’m teaching myself the GM side of Roll20 and will post about that here too – and am putting something together loosely based on the Eberron setting so that I can finally use those third edition rulebooks I bought all those years ago. So far I’m resisting mixing it with the D20 Call of Cthulhu rules, or even the D20 Judge Dredd rules.
Oh the fun we’re going to have…