Monday, 3 February 2014

28 days later - D&D's 40th bloghop (abridged version)

Marathon blog carnivals to commemorate D&D's 40th birthday is a thing it seems.  Like the blog carnival idea. Unsure on 28 days of grognard nostalgia.  Especially as the first question ends with 'Tell Me About Your Character'.  Dyson has a point, participation without zombie mode wins.

Please feel free to use the logo opposite if you want to dig in without going the full 28 days.  Especially if you have plans for Valentine's Day that don't involve posting how you dress up in wizard's robes for your significant other. Some stuff is best left unsaid.

1. Who introduced you to D&D?  Which edition?  Your first character?
Leslie Ash, I kid you not. Hanging around my gran's watching Pebble Mill (proto-formulaic daytime TV) while off with flu.  This was the 1980s. Wander back from kitchen to see Leslie playing a chaotic elf fighting a skeleton in a room filling with water. Got the Moldvay Red Box soon after Created a fighter called Ironhawk, gave him chainmail, a halberd and adventurer's pack and... ended up being the DM anyway.  So it goes.

2. Who you first introduced to D&D?  Which edition?. Their first character?
My cousin, Craig, a week after I got the Red Box.  His character was a fighter with a battleaxe and shield whose name is lost to antiquity.
He discovered girls the following week so the game folded shortly after. There's something oddly symmetrical about that.

3. First dungeon you explored as a player-character or ran as a DM?
Home brewed, took stuff from Keep On the Borderlands, added in bits of Earthsea (chunks of the Tombs of Atuan) and The Hobbit.  Kept the Pebble Mill water trap with skeleton.  You don't mess with good ideas when starting out.

4. First dragon your character slew.
A young black dragon who woke up surrounded by a very nervous party.  It's dying memory was a halberd in the eye.  And that was the upper limit of 3rd level for Ironhawk for over a year...

5. First character to go from 1st edition to the highest level possible in a given edition.
Ironhawk got to 3rd level and loitered there awhile because D&D Expert set didn't hit our FLGS for months.  Meanwhile, brief flirtations with Gamma World, Traveller, Runequest 2nd ed and something called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons were afoot.  We found most players were driven off by the maths and most DMs by coming up with challenges by about 14th level.  Giants/Drow/Lolth was popular for a time as were adaptations of D&D Companion modules for AD&D and DragonLance.  The real forays into 1st - 20th didn't happen until 3.5E and a dedicated campaign based on Morrowind lead to Raziel, a half-drow rogue/assassin/shadowdancer and his allies taking on that world's tarrasque and winning.

6. First character death?  How did you handle it?
Traveller.  Never bring cloth armour and SMG to a laser carbine firefight.  Phillip, the GM saw I was less than enthused at the result.  We were all precocious gamer kids. Rest of party regrouped after medical attention, I rolled up a new PC and we kicked ass with explosives.  Healthy respect for laser weaponry since. :)

7. First D&D product I ever bought.  Do I still have it?
A much-battered Red Box.  The only physical evidence I have of it is the battered blue d8.  Everything else was dismembered by over-use or went AWOL down the years and house moves.  I do have a pocket-sized Red Box book instead now.

8. First set of polyhedral dice you owned. Do you still use them?
See question 7.  I have an eclectic collection of dice, as over the years, complete sets become incomplete. Sharing houses with cats and gamers does that to you.

9. First campaign setting (published or homebrewed) that you played in.
D&D's Known World (though it wasn't at the time) and World of Greyhawk tie on this one.  Two separate games - started at the same time.

You never forget your first...
10. First gaming magazine you ever bought.
Dragon #73.  Closely followed by White Dwarf #35.  Having recently sent a number of mistreated Dragons (no covers) to the fire, it amazed me how much of this stuff I've kept around over the years.

11. First splatbook I begged my DM to approve.
Hmmm.  When the whole splatbook thing started to become a thing for us was the Complete… books.  You could usually spot good ideas from the bad but didn't have an entire book you'd argue for.

12. First store where you bought your gaming supplies.  Does it still exist?
Games Centre in Broadmarsh.  Lasted about 3 years, then moved, then got bought by a then-growing company by the name of Games Workshop.  You may be aware of their work?

13. First miniature(s) you used for D&D
Apart from a brief flirtation with Grenadier figures back in the beginning, the figures thing didn't really take off until much later.  I have some figures, some painted, some less so.

14. Did you meet your significant other while playing D&D? Does he or she still play?
Yes and yes.  Opportunities are sparse but it still makes me smile we occasionally spend quality time by being other people.  The last D&D game we played in together, she was a half-elven spy sorceror/rogue. Parenthood has made getting time to game tricky but plans are afoot.

15. Which was the first edition of D&D you didn't enjoy? Why?
Would you believe 3rd edition?  Remove abstraction, add in attacks of opportunity AND reheat leftovers. Owning three different versions of the Axe of The Dwarven Lords, yeah, not so much.  That said, I like 3.5 and Pathfinder is my current poison.  The best thing about this was it encouraged me to go further afield.

16. Did you remember your first Edition War.  Did you win?
Yes I do.  A heated and at times, alcohol-fueled debate on the merits of 1E vs lovingly crafted homebrew system played by friends.  Nobody wins edition wars.  George Barnard Shaw's aphorism about wrestling pigs applies here.

17. First time you heard that D&D was somehow "evil".
Rona Jaffe's Mazes & Monsters lit the fuse for about a year of 'Satanic panic' which then fizzled in the face of other concerns like heavy drinking and 'the wrong crowd'.  Honestly, you just can't please some people…

18. First gaming convention you ever attended.
Beer & Pretzels was my first and that was fun.  That said, I understand organising events is tricky. Watching recent industry flailings at equality is painful.  Makes you want to do better.

19. First gamer who just annoyed the hell out of you.
Nobody's annoyed me on a molecular level at a D&D game.  Usually to annoy the hell out of me, you need to know me outside the game.  That said, I'm a believer in The Angry DM's view of cowardly characters.
My opinion of pacifist characters is uninformed, I've never seen one played longer than one session.

Or your second... 
20. First non-D&D RPG you played.
Traveller.  Minimalist, computer manualesque books in None So Black covers. First exposure to character death during generation.  Also first character death. White Dwarf made an art form of Traveller scenarios back in the day.

21. First time you sold some of your D&D books - for whatever reason.
About five years ago, I actually sold off some stuff on Ebay as we needed the space.  Prior to that, we gave our books to friends, figuring they'd get re-use and the book would get a good home.  I've found charity shops can be a little unpredictable about donations of this kind.

22. First D&D-based novel you ever read.
The first Dragonlance novel.  You could see the mechanics, the creaky characterisation.  For all it's flaws, influential among gamers.  I understand the form has moved on a bit.

23. First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D.
Killer of Giants by Ozzy Osbourne from The Ultimate Sin.  The group I ran Giants/Drow/Lolth for used it to get into the zone and every time I hear anything from that album it brings back a wry smile.

Your tour guides to the
scenic Temple of Set
24. First movie that comes to mind that you associate with D&D? Why?
Conan The Barbarian.  Closely pursued by the Sinbad movies and Jason & The Argonauts.  There are also numerous '80s sword & sorcery flicks who have a lot to answer for.

25. Longest running campaign / group you've been in.
D&D - One group.  Membership rotates, 9-ish campaigns over 20 years with numerous one-shots/short bursts, the next generation is on it's way.

26. Do you still game with the group that introduced you to the hobby?  
Nope, people move on and move away.  It's part of life's rich tapestry.

27. If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different when you first started gaming?
Obviously yes, hindsight is wonderful.  Finding a more organised game scene earlier would have cleared up some early confusion.  Folks these days have it much easier.

28. What's the single most important lesson you've learned from playing D&D?
Lateral thinking gets you far but not all the way.

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