About Me

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting Back in the Game

I have a bunch of candles. All different sizes, different ornate candle holders, frozen candle wax in intricate flows and rivulets frozen in time. I haven't lit them in quite a while, because I hadn't had time. Two very important activities in my life is writing and D&D. The latter being a form of the former. I hadn't had time to write, except at work, and poetry disguised as routine texts with my girlfriend. I have a blog that nobody reads, least of all my players, for whom this thing was initially set up to give background reading for the game. Game ended when the girlfriend moved in. That had something to do with it, but coincidentally, the campaign completed its two year and a half year life span at the same time, one of the players moved on, I got promoted and reassigned at work. It wasn't a perfect storm, but things have changed.

My homebrew AD&D campaign is something that I could never publish - a derivative syncretism of the others rules and work from about 20 years ago. I could salvage a fantasy novel based on the setting and only some of the events, and could potentially write a ground breaking fantasy role playing game supplement, but that's not the point. I was drawn and mystified by the D&D illustrations of the fantastic world full of magic on the edge of reality with its unexplored forests and mountains looming in the distance. This was akin to the concept of the musical album cover art from the seventies. Whatever the music, whatever the artist, the album cover featured a high quality drawing of a concept or illustration designed to get the record sold. Very little of the musical recording matched what was on the cover. It was a difficult venture for a kid spending a small fortune of ten dollars for a record that in all likelihood will sound awful. World of D&D was similar - it promised the romance of the exploration and of the unknown, but featured all too human combat, monsters, and treasure, even the magic in the game was mundane and functional, especially, when compared with the genuine eastern mysticism.

Had I picked up the Moldway red box set and played right there and then, I may have seen what the game really was, as it was played, left it behind and moved on, but I came from a small town, population of 1500 smack into the middle of New York City, and it took a while for me to find friends, and even longer to find a D&D game. In the meantime the seed grew, picking up, where memories of my small town, Bradbury like, in places, ended. Back then, we would walk around between our school, and our homes, the movie theater and the single strip mall that we had, and we talked of the mysteries of the space and of the UFOs, ancient civilizations and archeological dog sites, and wars and politics, and nuclear weapons and of dangerous criminals, competing in story-telling and in playing war, and out all that ball of beeswax something approaching a long term live action role-playing game emerged. It had no formal rules, but it HAD rules, you couldn't make too outrageous claims when role playing some imperial grand duke, and pissing contests were a no-no, and there was even a single six sided die, that was used when the game took on the form of playing with the toy soldiers.

I had a pretty decent success recreating the same atmosphere, if not the mood, at my AD&D game table. By dint of the lack of experience, I let a mega dungeon get in the way of the developing campaign. It was the equivalent of the trench warfare in the art of the tactical troop movement in more ways than one. And so, D&D is part of my soul and I will get the game running again. Getting a player a two is no big deal, getting a steady group of six is almost an insurmountable challenge. Developing a story to play is easy, dungeon even easier, but the underground adventure grown like fungus, and if left unchecked, can consume your campaign story setting like cancer. That is, if you are like me, and have a grand mysterious world outside the dungeon. The real challenge is getting the D&D done in the face of other priorities and activities in your life.

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