Tag Archive for Gary Gygax

Old School Roleplaying – what is it?

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I thought I would share a few thoughts about old school roleplaying, and why (for me and others) it is so attractive as a gaming outlet. First, a little about me – I have been a gamer since the mid 1970s, although my first gaming was military board games. I started with the lightweight military board games that became popular in the 1970s (Carrier Strike, Skirmish, Tank Battle, etc), and then moved into Avalon Hill type games. From there, it wasn’t long before I discovered miniature wargaming, round about the late 1970s. I was excited about the Battle of Waterloo figures I got from Airfix, but my brothers (who were my gaming companions) were having none of that. So we went into medieval, and due to the popularity of the animated Lord of the Rings movie, we also got interested in fantasy miniatures. And then I found Dungeons and Dragons, the original white box edition, that said on the box that it was “Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures”. Eureka! This is what we were looking for! Previously we played around with rules from Hinchliffe, and wrote some of our own, but it was all in the sense of a wargame.

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I saw this Dungeons and Dragons stuff everywhere, once I became aware of it. It was in toy stores, in book stores, and of course at the hobby store. Different versions? Whoa! So I got some money from mowing yards, and bought the Dungeons and Dragons Basic set that was written by J. Eric Holmes. Why do I mention the author? Because a few years later, there was another basic set writing by Tom Moldvay. The first one, which I got, came with the module B1 “In Search of the Unknown” by Mike Carr. To this day, I still think that is one of the best modules for any game, that was designed to teach new game masters the art of building RPG adventures.

So, from there, the rest is history. Here we are in 2016, and I am still roleplaying. Now my high school aged daughter joins in, and I have friends that I have been playing with since the early 80s. It is, has been, and will continue to be a great hobby (along with the rest of tabletop gaming, that I find so intriguing – that is, board games and miniature games). In the time between 1974 when D&D was initially published (which was, at first, in response to all the players learning it from Mr. Gygax and company, and who needed their own copy of the rules), and today, there have been hundreds and hundreds of other roleplaying games, and a number of excellent editions of D&D and its successor Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. The first successor to the basic game was the AD&D game, published as three books in 1977 (with the appearance of the Monster Manual), 1979 (Player’s Handbook) and 1980 (Dungeon Master’s Guide). That game was EXTREMELY successful, and many thousands of players still play first edition AD&D (as it is known today). It gave way, however, to a second edition (AD&D2E, as it is known on countless websites). That version of the game is also extremely popular (and still played by many, many people), with the core again being three books – a Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monstrous Compendium. Versions of those books, and many hundreds of supporting products, came out starting in 1989, and would continue into the 1990s, until the year 2000, when 3rd Edition AD&D came out. Here, my history ends because at this point, I believe we finally moved away from what anybody would call old school roleplaying. Read more