Shall ye enter? – Me and AD&D

When I first started to play MMOs online, it was definitely what I thought was a progression from my regular table top games which I used to play. All of a sudden I was playing Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft trying to recreate the fun and interaction which I had experienced in the table top world of gaming. I soon had to accept that there was neither the depth or interaction which was original available in the RPGs which I played, but the online games had the advantage of being able to be played by myself, at any time of the day (or night) with little or no preparation. Eventually my figures, rules and floor plans were slowly packed away to be replaced with my mouse, monitor and keyboard. But recently I have been entering the world of RPGs once more and as I have been immersing myself once again in the games I used to play, I started to remember what I liked about so much…

I actually still remember the first RPG which I bought. While at grammar school, probably at about age 13/14, two older friends took me into town to buy the basic rule edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I had been saving up my money from my paper round and had a grand total of £10.00 and, with the Basic Rule Box set costing £8.50 I remember getting reprimanded by my mum afterwards saying that I was silly spending all my money before Christmas because she wasn’t going to give me any money to buy presents for my friends at school. I had always been the sort of lad growing up who had never found his niche, not being sporty or educationally bright, and suddenly, I had found something which I was literally mesmerised by. I read the rule book from front to back several times and made up so many characters and, before long, I was creating adventures and dungeons and inviting people round to play on the dining room table. My brother splashed out and bought the Players Handbook for the Advanced rules and I was literally captivated. With an old suitcase full of rules books, floor plans and figures, I was completely immersed into the world. But what do I really remember that I enjoyed?

  • Dungeons and Mapping – On one of my recent shopping trips I was in Smiths (formerly WH Smiths) browsing the folders and stationery when I suddenly spied something which took me straight back to my world of table top gaming. A pack of paper with squares on it! I remember buying packs of this paper, along with A4 paper, to create adventures with. When I say adventures, they were nothing more than a dungeon crawl, with the party venturing out from the local town to rid the inhabitants of the contents of the dungeon. There was very little thought put into each of the rooms, with bugbears living next door to goblins and the monsters never ever triggering the numerous traps within the corridors. In fact, I don’t think they ever left the rooms they were locked into. I once actually had an eight level dungeon. What this actually meant was that there were eight levels going down deeper and deeper into the ground. I don’t think anyone ever got past level one, but there was always that moment when you suddenly found the set of stairs which lead to the next level and you wondered whether you could actually survive down there. Mapping was so much fun with phrases like – “the corridor continues for forty foot and then in the next ten foot it turns east” and secret doors marked on the map with sideway ‘S’s. It was always interesting looking back on some of the rare maps I created as a player (rare because I was usually DMing (Dungeon Mastering)). There was no computers at this phase of my gaming and so everything was stored in folders and ring binders. I wonder whether I still have that eight level dungeon somewhere…

  • Parties and People – I’ve never been a party goer so when I say parties I am not talking about parties of the alcohol or balloon type. I have never had a huge group of friends and when I played AD&D few actually understood the game let alone played it with me. This meant that I had to create not only ‘stable’ of characters to play but a full group/party. When I went adventuring, I had a group of characters which I played as a party. It was just me and the DM or me as the DM and the player. I think my party was actually called the Magnificent Eight – but it was a long time ago. I remember it was led by a dwarven fighter called Thorin Oakenshield – and there was probably a magic-user in there called Merlin as well! I also remember a paladin – although I am not sure what his name was – I think it was my brother’s paladin which was called Palo! I also had a phase of really liking multi-classed characters – a cleric/fighter/magic-user and a fighter/magic-user/thief. I’m sure the latter was somewhat of an expert with a two handed sword! I do remember starting a RPG group off, and the campaign lasted for some time, with the players growing up with their characters. When I headed off to university I was excited to actually find some people who played RPGs including a new dungeon master which meant I could actually start to play! – I always liked playing the magic-user and remember that my character in that first uni campaign had an orb with continual darkness cast on it which I used to keep hidden under a velvet cloth! Those were also the days of arrows being fired into combat with Silence 15′ radius on them! Apart from my brother, I haven’t kept in touch with any of the people from those role playing days – which is somewhat a shame – I guess everyone grew up and moved away. That’s one of the good things about role playing games, the campaign always remains for the next group of players to venture forth into it.

  • Figures, Games and Fanzines – As well as spending many weekends making up adventures, characters or just reading rule books, Dungeons and Dragons provided a wealth of other activities which allowed me to keep myself occupied. I was always one of those people who were constantly bored growing up and it was only after finding D&D that I found myself with so much to actually do. I actually created my own figure painting business – charging 20-50p per figure. I often used to take over the dining room table and sit drinking Earl Grey tea, painting figures under a bright table lamp. I also started my own magazine based on D&D. It was called Animate Dead – yes I do still have a copy somewhere. It was actually produced on a typewriter using several layers of carbon paper to duplicate the pages for the number of copies which were ordered. I think it cost 20p each copy and included new magical items, character focuses, a story which I wrote every week and even adverts from people! It was never a money maker but I did use the profits for more paper and paints. And finally there were the other games that blossomed from the initial D&D box set. Middle Earth matured into Role Master, Super powers were used in Golden Heroes and we all got completely spooked while playing Call of Cthulhu! It certainly gave me plenty to do and, I must admit, I enjoyed every moment of it!

  • Looking back on ‘those days’ I was certainly very busy and I am not actually sure whether or not I effectively managed the demands of school work alongside my game playing. I did however, really enjoy immersing myself within the game and interacting with the people I met both in and out of the campaigns. As I start to engage with Dungeons and Dragons and Shadowrun once again on my Twitch Stream – I am really enjoying reminiscing about the games of the past with fellow streamers and viewers and, as I start to create new adventures and campaigns, re living those moments of bravery, heroism and often foolhardiness. And to think, this all started from a £8.50 box bought on a cold winter’s evening, many years ago…

    What do you remember from your role playing games? Are you a seasoned player like myself or someone new and just starting to experience everything? If you would like to share your thoughts, comments or even ideas then please do by adding them in the comment box below. It is really easy to register for the site and you can instantly start to progress with your Waffling badges!

    So it only remains for me to say, have fun guys and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled!

    2 comments for “Let Me In! – Simon’s Cat – YouTube

    1. February 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Would be cool to play an one off, one of the dungeon crawls you made! Maybe the 8 level one!!!

    2. March 21, 2017 at 12:05 am

      I miss those early days so much. The current state of rpg’s , the rpg xubculture if you like, doesn’t feel like it did back then. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

      I was introduced to Advanced D&D 1st Edition, by my sisters boyfriend (the BEST boyfriend of the many she had IMHO..), who showed me S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks module after discovering I enjoyed computer based adventure games, I was hooked immediately and it wasn’t too long before I was hanging around the local game shop, Games Gallery, from which I was invited to join in a game run by the assistant manager, who was to become my long and good friend Steve, who was coincidentally, the reason I got to work at the local branch of Games Workshop for a time. Working there, in those days, before it became a Warhammer only shop, was amazing. It was the proverbial kid in the sweet shop!. Staff discount made it even sweeter – 50% off GW’s own products, and 25% off everything else. We also ran a great rpg club, with about 60-80 members at its peak.
      I was always the GM for my main group as no one else had the time it took to prepare a game properly, though after a few changes to the group, and people from the club popping up, I eventually got to play. Games by a company called Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU) were very popular in all of my groups. FGU sold games such as Bushido, Aftermath,Space Opera, Chivalry & Sorcery, Freedom Fighters, and Bunnies & Burrows, but there were many many more games, by many different companies, covering all sorts of genres – and I still have them all. Many were, as was the style back then, table and chart and rule HEAVY. We loved that. Comparing themto the current crop of “rules lite” systems, I would certainly go back to the old games instead. We played these games sometimes 5 days a week, as for a time we were all unemployed. It was all we did.
      I often spent days creating scenarios, making maps, creating player characters as well as npc’s. I found it quite therapeutic, as is miniature painting – thousands of the little buggers packed away testify to the time I spent doing it. My “toy soldiers” as my brother in law calls them…
      I used to get quite attached to my favourite characters, and whilst one or two died over the decades, most did not.
      For almost all of my characters I would go overboard by most people’s standards. I like to have an image for my characters, whether a photo or artwork. Sometimes I will see an image and that is the base for the whole character, built around the image.
      I always believed as a player, that giving the GM a detailed background, list of goals, motivations, friends, contacts and enemies, will help the GM bring my character into the game more, by using some of what I have given him in the game. As a GM I like to see what players come up with for their characters, and will often use it in the game. It involves the player more, makes the game more personal if part of the game is suddenly about them, and it can help the players become more invested in their characters.
      For myself, I would often map out the characters home, create a family tree, siblings, etc.
      For our Star Trek RPG (by FASA Corp), I created the whole crew of a 500+ personnel star ship… All as detailed player characters. Unnecessary and a bit OTT I know, but it helped bring every department on the ship alive, every member of the landing party was a person not simply a red shirt.

      I am often bemused whilst watching streams when I see the gm of a streamed game pull some “new” idea out of his box of tricks, and the players are like “wow!”, “that’s original”, “I would never have thought of doing it that way!”, knowing we did it 30-40 years ago.

      The games my most recent group and I played/ran, were very detailed games with a lot of depth. Quite dark games too, mature themed, and often very emotional and intense. Having played with the same people for nigh on 20 years, you create a bond, a closeness and familiarity that allows you to communicate in a way you couldn’t, with people you don’t know very well.
      I have been brought to tears several times in recent years during the last (decade long) game we played ,as some scenes were simply too emotional or powerful, overwhelming (GM was a bastard – but an EXCELLENT GM).

      Sadly the group folded, but the GM offered to keep the game going for just me, which he did for a few years, which to be honest I really needed, as it helped me through a bad depression at that time).
      Over the years I have experienced a lot of things because of rpg’s, and made some great friends, too. I have a lot to be grateful for, regarding rpg’s. I was discussing with my brother in law, my collection of rpg’s and miniatures. When he realised how much they are worth, (some regularly sell for £100’s!) he always tells me to sell sell sell. He doesn’t grasp what they mean to me .
      Yet I won’t. Part of me hopes and prays that I will get a local group together (even some of the old group!) and start using them again. But aside from that, as my memory fails, little by little each year, these boxes and books and miniatures on the shelves are my constant reminders of happy and sad and exciting moments, and great fun, and more importantly, great friends.

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