The Old Gray Geek

Category: Gaming

How Do You Get Your Game On?

Sorry folks, but computer-based role-playing games have never done it for me. Not that I won’t play them. I have, and I’ve even enjoyed some of them. But they are momentary diversions at best.

Break out the paper and dice! Dust off those rule books!

I was a little bit late to the D&D party. A friend and I tried for 2 years in high school, to find out about this mysterious new game. We took a bus ride from the suburbs into the city to the local “science fiction book shop” and bought a copy of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook. Then we spent the next couple of weeks, swapping off, reading through it, trying to figure out how to play the game. And failing. We found out, right about the time we graduated, that a friend of ours had a weekly D&D game running at his house. Who knew? Those were the days when “geek” was most definitely not chic, and you didn’t publicize your interest in things like the “evil” Dungeons and Dragons. It wasn’t until a year after I graduated high school, and my friend was home on leave from the military, that I actually had a chance to play the game. He’d found a group at his duty station, and learned the game. Once I got to see how it was actually played, I was hooked.

The original AD&D Player's Handbook

What is it about this type of game that appeals to me? It’s the unlimited choices, the ability to define how your character acts and reacts to every situation. You can try things that no videogame designer ever anticipated, and a good game master can just go with it. I’ve dropped anvils on castle towers, I’ve smacked unruly merchants with sledgehammers, I’ve forced evil knights to undress with a single word, all because a game master was flexible enough to let my character act as I saw fit. You can’t do that in a videogame.

Over the past 35 years, I’ve taken a couple of breaks from gaming. But I’ve never gotten rid of my books, and I’m always hopeful of finding some folks interested in playing. I’ve branched out, trying other games such as Toon, Paranoia and my favorite, the long-gone Lords of Creation from Avalon Hill. Different settings, as well as attempts at simplifying some of the game mechanics, made these games appealing to me and to others. I have played the successor to AD&D’s popular 3rd edition rules, the Pathfinder system, and I like it, but it is extremely complex. This has been, in my opinion, a weakness for role-playing games from the early days. The games are great, but there’s a steep learning curve for them. And I’d like to do something about that.

Stick around. In the weeks to come, I’ll talk more about my proposed solution.

Toon, Lords of Creation & Paranoia

January 17, 2017     0 Comments

So, What’s It All About?

Wow, another geek culture blog. Ho, hum. That's what, number twelve thousand?

Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad, but yes, there are a lot of them out here on the Internet. And that's a good thing. Thirty years ago, if you were a nerd or a geek, you had to hunt high and low to find your fellows. If you were a college student and very lucky, you had a gaming club on campus. I was an early (can't quite claim founding) member of the Rochester Wargamer's Association and Guild (RWAG) at Rochester Institute of Technology, back in 1984-85. I'm happy to see that they are still around three decades later. The same was true for comic book fans, science fiction/fantasy enthusiasts, and re-enactors. There have been groups around for these interests, but they were hard to find and, let's face it, most people thought we were a bit odd.

Now, things are different. We're everywhere. And why not? After all, some would say it was the geeks who brought us the World Wide Web and social media. Geek has gone mainstream, and you can see its effects everywhere from television and movies, to the clothing on the racks at the stores, from the explosion of cons to the naming of babies. Geek culture is going strong and apparently here to stay.

So, why another geek blog? Because everyone gets their geek on in a different way. My interests aren't necessarily the same as the geek next door. But there will be some commonality. My main interests are comic books (particularly DC comics, mostly up through the mid 1980's), role-playing games in the tradition of Dungeons and Dragons, medieval re-enactment, and science fiction/fantasy novels. Not to say I won’t talk about other topics, but those are my core interests. And like my medieval persona, I’m a bit of an anachronism. My interests lie in my youth: old comics, old-school gaming, and the classic stories. And that’s what I want to talk about here. More to the point, that’s what I want others to talk about here. I want this blog to be an open community for geeks to talk about their interests. I’ll be posting links to other blogs and articles that interest me, as well as pontificating on my interests. I hope you’ll join in.

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