I wish I were a Grognard

The first RPG I can remember playing was the Rogue-like game ADOM. I fell in love with the randomly generated dungeons and monsters, the variety of classes, the sheer bulk of the mechanics I was too young and lazy to learn. I didn’t even understand dice notation at the time. I just picked up whichever weapon I found that seemed cool. ADOM is a relatively recent game, but certain elements of it seemed to reflect old D&D editions, such as the single-axis alignment system and the games general indifferance to which side you chose. The sandbox style of it- just a big map, where you could go to the small cave or the gremlin cave of the infinite dungeon, you could save the puppy first thing, do it later and be too late to save it, or not even try, you could accept the invitation to the pyramid or not. I know most RPGs in 1974 weren’t sandboxes any more than today (probably), but it’s still that attitude that attracts me.

The black background and white floor spaces of ADOM seemed to set the mood for the whole game, and I see the same style in the old black and white illustrations, in the cover of AD&D 1st. There were only four towns, TWO of which had the possibility of affordable magic items, and one of those was deep in the caverns of chaos, and the other was hidden in impassible mountains.

It is probably because of all this that I find myself inexorably drawn towards older, and seemingly older, systems-

yet never have I played one. I have never even tried to play a game even as early as 2e. I started gaming late, and its too late to change, because I’m simply too lazy to spend time learning a new system with weapons doing different different damage than I remember,  and costing different amounts than I’m used to, and having different magic abilities than I’m used to, etc., ad nauseum, so that I can frustrate my players by spending time and energy switching to an older, non-compatible, unbalanced (you can protest, but you know it’s true and they’re going to care at least enough to use it as an argument not to change) system just so I can gain some ‘Tabletop Cred’.

besides, even if you like the old systems (and I definitely don’t blame you) you must agree that the newer systems have valuable perspective in them too- all classes advance at the same rate, that chart that gives estimated treasure total by level is extremely useful when someone needs to bring in a higher-than-first level character, the magic item rules have been ruthlessly balanced.

Myself, I am doomed to perhaps lose some gamer respect from those whose opinions I may value most, and for now I will stick with my Microlite20 game (using my Pathfinder RPG book’s lists of feats and magic item rules for help balancing new creations), and maybe modifying the rules to be more old-school (I personally like race-class restrictions). Maybe I’ll even persuade my players to do a one-shot Labyrinth Lord dungeoncrawl.

I still hope to find some 1st Ed or B/X group in my area that will take me on as a player, but I wouldn’t want to DM one.]


And maybe someday,

if the pastime hasn’t been criminalized by

the oppressive fascist giraffe-programmed all-knowing civil service AI,

I can grow a beard, gain weight, and be there tomorrow

to high-five you yesterday and tell those kids

to get their damn holographic miniatures off my lawn.


Isaac Murphy


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