About Me

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I got my first D&D rule set in 1982, when I was 14, and I been into pencil and paper fantasy role playing games ever since. That doesn't mean I played, since then, of course, finding other players was the hardest part. Creating worlds was easy by comparison. I started playing almost immediately, rolled my first character as soon as I brought the books home. I took me an hour and a half and it was a Magic User. I played my first game with my dad and my brother within that month. It was a disaster, I didn't get a number of game mechanics and managed to turn off both of them to the game. There were two games I played in while at high school. First lasted 15 minutes at the high school library, when a librarian threw me out during my lunch period. It was one of the small feats of petty axxholedness on part of a teachers assistant that have greater repercussions down the road - that game was nipped in the bud. I played with another fellow, a future prominent poet and a songwriter, it was one on one, I played in his world, he played in mine.

I started playing in the days before the internet and the whole D&D thing was mysterious. The people behind the books in hobby shops, obscure game supplements, hard cover books and game modules that I couldn't afford, the game designers, like mysterious overlords. I played by all the rules, inquiring at the local library and at the hobby shop about games, and eventually found two games. I was in college by then. I didn't last very long in either game. In one, I was a bit older than other kids and we got another player, a construction guy who was, like 35 to my, maybe 21 years to other's 15 and 18 years of age. The game got rid of us, no doubt thanks to the influence of the parents. The other game was humongous affair held at the local public library that involved sixteen players and had a middle aged mad philosopher of a DM, who thought that Catholicism was a Lawful Good religion with evil tendencies. That game was an exercise in boredom: We sat around a huge conference table, and waited 20-30 minutes until our turn came to see what we were doing, which was mostly waiting. Everyone created their own back story and a character, which didn't really matter, for we all were standing in line in front of the dungeon entrance and it took us 3 hours of real time enter the dungeon, advance thirty or fifty feet down the corridor, and find the mysterious writing on the wall that nobody could read. The game was a failure, but it served as a meeting ground for several small groups to start their own games. The game was like a committee of inquest, but in reverse: In a matter of seconds, an accident occurs, that takes some lives, and forever changes others. In the aftermath, boards of inquiry and committees sit in long meetings recreating the tragic events in excruciating detail. Ina large D&D game the reverse happens: A group of players led by DM sits in a long sessions, hammering out what actually happens in a few minutes of intense combat and exploration. That aspect of D&D is also reminiscent of one other dynamic. In post WW2 military adventures and before arrival of the ubiquitous choppers in Vietnam, patrols were done by large and long columns and convoys of vehicles. The front of the column of the side might be ambushed and attacked by the enemy, and that sector would be involved in combat, while the rest of the column would spend hours just smoking and waiting for the vehicles to start moving again.

Some in D&D gaming is a predictable cliché of D&D as a psychological coping mechanism. Here I was, a large dude, driving a truck to pay for college, boxing and playing war-games with real weapons in my national guard unit, having my D&D character pistol whipped by barbarian giant, played by a tiny little 13 year old from a broken home hiding behind thick specks. Less predictably, I got thrown out of a game, after my thief was attacked by another player character, thief drew knife and managed to kill the attacker with a natural 20. I was not invited to that game again, because I fight with and I kill other PC's. True to form, the douche bag of that DM didn't know that I knew and carried on as if he was my friend. There were two  ore interesting things that clued me in, that there was more going on in the game, than just D&D. I ran a brief game, where players filled out their character sheets with the biographic details of their alter egos. Fifteen years later, these biographic details became real, for most part, contrary to their own and their families' expectations. Much later, I was sitting in a patrol car with a grizzled police sergeant close to retirement and I explained D&D to him. And he exclaimed: Those guys are playing an armed robbery! Open the door, kill the monster, take the treasure! Force your way in, shoot the victim, take the money!

Friday, February 7, 2014


The game is on hiatus. Season ONE is done and Season TWO is in Production. It did not have to ground to a halt, but it did for all the typical reasons. I was running the game with about a session every two or three weeks while working 50-60 hours per week. I took vacation days to prep for play, fell asleep while DMing once or twice, but I managed. Then the love of my life moved in with me and I got a promotion, that put a dent. One of my players quit because of added job pressures and family obligations eating more of his time. Typical so far. I ran the same dungeon previously and came to the point of completion and a new adventure needing to be written. No time to write/writer's block. The end of the dungeon had a last game sessions, the reception of the heroes by the grateful Baron and the political intrigue that set up the next adventure. It went wonderfully the first time, but fizzled and I had to stop during the second time around, because there was a very different group dynamic among the player characters and NPC's, and I had to stop to rethink the events and conflicts of the final sessions. At the time I wrote it, I forgot how rooted it was in the interpersonal dynamics of the players at the time and I needed to rewrite it.

Then as I started working on the next adventure for the campaign, I realized that I have created a bunch of new game dynamics, and that those needed a review and an integration in to my DMing style. Then there was an issue of the computerized character sheet I use. I developed software so that the character sheet takes on a configuration appropriate to the character class you pick, i.e. it changes its layout based on what you type into it, and I needed to review how I display my information so that I can streamline my heads up display. Finally, I wanted to review and integrate the mass of Dungeon Master's Guides I have from First to the 4th Edition.

Essentially I have a whole Unified Theory of AD&D to work on, and this is a pure labor of love, since there is no potential for any real world application or publication in it.