Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A few basics...

Busy at work and home recently, but while cooking dinner, here's a little statement of what I play, what I have played, what I don't want to play, and possibly a bit about what I'm hoping to do with this blog...

So my interest in RPGs started when I joined a new, small country school aged 7.  They had a small library that contained the 1st Fighting Fantasy book, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.  As the many comments in the link show, it was new, interesting, and opened up a new world.  I got the next few books, up to #7, Island of the Lizard King, through a school bookclub, and collected the odd one or two through my teenage years...

Then I got MERP for an early birthday - 12th or so... (Trying to find a good link to the right edition as more challenging than I thought it would be...).  Playing games long on grit and short on imagination, I found myself DMing a small group of friends through the plots of Fighting Fantasy books, with odd linking adventures that made some of the more random published aspects of D&D seem a lot more normal...

Small intermission here - I have only played D&D/AD&D and all variants once, and not entirely by choice.  Living in a small country town in the mid 1980's, pre-internet, meant that RPG ANYTHING was hard to get.  Impossibly hard.  D&D had passed through a few years before, and the only sign was a horrendously expensive (shipping costs roughly doubled the initial $) copy of Unearthed Arcana that made no sense whatsoever.  No other books at all...

And somehow I had gained possession of three copies of White Dwarf, and two of Dragon Magazine, in variable conditions.  The articles (one of the Creature Compendiums mainly) had a major influence over my games of the time.

At the same time, I had the first four books of Dragon Warriors, which turned up as paperbacks in the local bookstore.  They were simple, fun and easy to run, and formed the backbone of all the one-shot games played for a very long time.

But then I got Rolemaster... The 2nd Edition.. for another birthday.  And it worked well, as we played it in a simplified manner, with less rolls.  The character personalisation and combat (criticals, criticals, criticals...) were probably the best of either I've ever seem in RPGs.  The only campaign from my teenage years I can remember involved High Fantasy, World Shaking Events, and me playing a Paladin.  I died killing a dragon, and its corpse fell on me and crushed me.  Try getting that in any edition of D&D!

So with this varied background, I went off to a city a fair drive away to University, and met people, and found an RPG store (well, bookstore with an RPG section), and read lots of fantasy and SF books. And found that a lot of these books were not very good, and the people that I knew that played RPGs all turned into antisocial Munchkins and the few games I tried playing with them were not fun.

Imagine a room full of rules lawyers.  The first evening I attended we didn't game.  An argument about the reach of weapons from the previous game took up the whole time.  Then, when we did get around to gaming the next week, my 1st level fighter (average stats) joined their 5th level group, and despite them having +3 and better weapons, armour, etc, I only had my starting weapon and leather armour.  Died when attacked by some sort of undead that you could only hit with magical weapons.  A learning experience, but I never went back.  I looked at their character sheets when I was dead, wandering around the table.  No-one had a stat less than 16 and some were over 18, and I'm sure some of the multiclassing going on wasn't kosher.  Still, to each their own.

Later, a job in a foreign country, and a real, actual roleplaying game store that only sold RPGs in the neighbourhood.  And I ended up playing in a not-very-regular game of Legend of the Five Rings, First Edition.  Fun game that seemed more based on The X Files than anything Japanese, but a lot of fun.

Back to my home country after a few years, to start real life, and when moving between towns, picked up a few boxes from my Dad's place from my teenage years.  It contained the Dragon Warriors books, some of my MERP modules (the Court of Ardor being the favourite) and a lot of old handwritten notes for The-Great-Setting-That-Never-Turned-Out.  And I saw all the hype of D&D 3E, which made better sense than the previous editions and got me sort-of interested in the genre again.

And a few years ago, I found some 2nd hand RPG stuff, starting adding to the notes, discovered the HUGE Grognard blog circle out there, and ordered a heap of 1st Ed modules off Wizards a week before they closed off all pdf sales.  Pity.  Mostly I am like a magpie, and collect a variety of random ideas and use them as starting points for my own assemblage.

So this blog is my window to put out stuff that I've scribbled out in the past into some sort of order, and if people use it, steal it, or are entertained by it, that's great.

Hopefully something useful next post...

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I've recently put out an ebook of my writing, called 'The New Death and others'. It's mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard's King Kull story 'The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune' and HP Lovecraft's 'Under the Pyramids'.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy. You can email me ( or reply to this thread.

    You can download a sample from the ebook's page on Smashwords:

    I'll also link to your review from my blog.