How I came to play Old-school (and Why)


I was never introduced to D&D by a friend. That is technically true, though an uncle did introduce me to a game he ‘used to spend a lot of time playing in coffeeshops.’ The rules were ‘roll a d6 for every action. 6 is automatic success, 1 is automatic failure’. I never really played it with my friends, because I really had no idea how to DM.

Most of my exposure to the idea of D&D came from the roguelike game, ADOM. Other influences were present, such as a novelization of E.T. that we owned at one point [I actually watched the movie when I was much younger, but we never owned it or got it from Netflix (by the time it had occurred to me that it might be worth watching again, I was old enough to be disgusted at the Special Edition, which is all Netflix has)], the movie ‘Dorkness Rising’, and modern cartoons Adventure Time and Regular Show.

These were both introduced to me by my current best friend, as I had grown too cynical to watch modern cartoons without being introduced to them. Each of these cartoons had an episode that influenced me greatly, and I think may have been what finally convinced me to start gaming at all. Adventure Time had ‘Dungeon’, originally titled ‘Dungeon Masters’, which I mentioned by YouTube in my last post.

The whole episode is essentially a homage to D&D, with traps, trap doors, a Gelatinous Cube, and even a monster that looks like a chest. Looking back on it, that is the best example of a dungeon I have ever seen.

Regular Show had the episode ‘But I Have A Receipt’, which amazingly may actually have given me the push I needed to get started. In this episode, Mordecai and Rigby bring a new game called ‘Realm of Darthon’ to game night. The game’s rules are incredibly complicated, apparently requiring a protractor to resolve an attack roll.
Rigby: Okay, roll the 50-sided die.
Skips: All we have is a 48-sided die and two marbles.
Rigby: Close enough.

Once I actually decided to play the game, I started at the Wikipedia page on Dungeons and Dragons. I skimmed it briefly, and then right there the first game I decided to search for was 1st Edition AD&D. When I saw that cover picture, it summed up, for me, what D&D looked like. I was very disappointed to find it out of print. If I had done more research, I might have discovered OSRIC, and my gaming might have begun differently.

It seemed that 3rd Edition was the place to go, at this point, so I downloaded the SRD in .doc format. It confused me almost endlessly, as the files were organized alphabetically instead of by chapter- and I never finished reading it. For the time being, though, my picture of D&D was unmuddied by the 3e illustrations.

My local library, as it turned out, had a copy of the 3.5 Players Handbook, which I checked out and read. Obviously, it was missing a lot of information- monster stats, for example. I made a token effort to find games in the area using the Internet, but I never found a group to play in.

A year later, I decided to start looking again. This time, I actually thought to check gaming store websites. One of them had been considering starting an ongoing game, which I called about. The guy said it was uncertain which edition would be played- probably 3.5 or Pathfinder.
I downloaded a PDF of the Pathfinder Core Rules, looked them over.

The ongoing game never started up, but I had my Pathfinder PDF, I was fed up, I was going to just start my own game. I read through the PDF a couple more times, hoping to be able to remember enough of the rules to run a game. Thankfully, I recieved a hard copy for my birthday- all I’d have to do was print monster stat blocks from my Bestiary PDF.

I’ve been homeschooled all my life, and my mom would occasionally take my younger brothers and sisters to a weekly ‘park day’ a bunch of other local homeschoolers had organized- a few families with kids meeting at the park. I sent an Email to the group through my mom and put up ads in one of the local game stores. I started going to the ‘park days’ with the rest of the family. It was at one of these that I met my first player. He was about my age, hadn’t played before but happened to have some dice lying around (good thing- I didn’t). He showed up, and so did one other guy (his mom had pointed the Email out to him).

They comprised my playing force for a while. The first guy’s younger brother was going to join at one point, but decided not to when I tried to explain character creation (I now understand why). The games we ran at this point were largely “Monty Haul”- creating a character took so long that just not killing them off seemed easier. At one point I looked over some PDFs of the Basic D&D rules- this was my first experience with the Rules Cyclopedia. It seemed easier to read than having to go through B, E, C, M, and I just to get the same rules.

I really liked (still do) the RC line art. Yeah, when you look closely that Fighter’s arm is too short- but Black and White line art is part of my perception of D&D. And to someone coming from the realm of Women with Swords As Tall And Broad As They Are it was like a deep breath. I would have shifted to those rules right then, but I didn’t think my players wanted to go through character creation AGAIN, as well as get used to descending AC. So I left that first read as a skim.

I spent a lot of time on the Paizo forums at that time, and noticed an interesting looking thread about ‘feat-less, skill-less pathfinder”. Someone mentioned that the idea sounded something like Microlite20- so I looked that up.

Almost immediately, we switched. That Pathfinder book still came in handy for the equipment list and spell lists. We were still very Monty Haul, but we at least had a simpler system. That was some of the most fun gaming we had. The first RPG blog I read was Intelligence Check- an obscure pathfinder blog that I found while searching for something-or-other about alignment- I can’t remember exactly what. A little later, I started reading Grognardia. Grognardia took me to Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and a little bit later I designed my first dungeon that was both
A dungeon, and
Out to kill at least some of the party.
It was outstanding. Unfortunately, I moved three sessions later. That move gave me the opportunity to formally decide to start a Rules Cyclopedia game.

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