One? D&D. Only One, Huh?

I can only say what I think of this new edition of D&D. For the record, I don’t love it or hate it more than prior editions. It’s just another edition change.

I’m struggling to stay positive with this “One”

I listened to the Wizards of the Coast announcement of “One D&D.” Okay, I tried. Honestly, I skipped the Magic: the Gathering announcements and some of their other corporate Mcdoublespeak. I like the spokespeople they had for D&D Beyond and the new rules.

I’m not going to talk about everything that I took away from this. I have a couple of main concerns. First, is the supposed retro compatibility. Second is what it sounds like might happen to retailers. Last, aside from their announcements I’m not really keen on all the hype.

I’m very skeptical about the idea that editions are going away.

We’re told by WotC that everything we’ve purchased previously (for FIFTH Edition!) will still be compatible. Okay. Waitaminute. What? Then, someone at WotC went so far as to say “we don’t see things in terms of editions.”

Yeah, because if you acknowledged prior editions, you’d remember there are actually six editions prior to this “One.” Basic/BECMI, First Ed AD&D, Second Ed AD&D, Third Edition, Fourth Edition, and then Fifth Edition. For some unexplained reason, the nice folks at WotC always seem to exclude all of that content prior to Third Ed, unless they can bring it back to make a quick buck or two on it. (Spelljammer, Dragonlance, etc.)

I appreciate what Fifth Edition has done for the hobby.

Some people saw Fourth Ed D&D as basically the “New” Coke for RPGs. For those to young to remember New Coke, it wasn’t very good and it gave Coca Cola an excuse to bring back the old formula and make more money off all of the grateful Coke drinkers. In terms of advertising and marketing, it was brilliant. That said, in terms of being on the consumer end, it sucked. D&D Fourth was sort of the same way.

Fifth Edition is when WotC supposedly started listening to the players and incorporated feedback and merged some of the better concepts from prior editions. That’s true for the most part. But how do they explain the OSR movement?

Fifth Edition also introduced thousands of new players and DMs to the hobby of tabletop role playing games through Critical Role and other actual play podcasts. I think we’re all truly proud and grateful for that. As much as I kinda jab at Matt Mercer occasionally, he did do ALL that, and it’s a genuinely good thing. (And I know Matt would never read my blog. LOL!)

They think they have a solid lock on their demographic.

You know some marketing goobs at WotC sat down and asked, “What does a typical D&D player look like?”

Because that’s how marketing works. Make no mistake, WotC is still part of a very large corporation, HASBRO. Their job is to make their brands profitable. If it ain’t making money? It’s gone.

None of us want to see D&D go away forever. So, they sat down and figured out that their target audience is mostly between the ages of about 14-35, primarily in English speaking countries. They want people who are either completely new to the game or came in during the Fifth Ed craze. They’re also likely assuming the new players are somewhat tech savvy, phone constantly in hand, social media users, and accustomed to virtual play.

They admitted in their announcement video that the game is 50 years old. But they’re really only looking at about half of that demographic. In my opinion, it’s like they’ve completely turned a blind eye to the rest of us. They’re not going for any compatibility beyond Fifth Edition for the most part. What about the OSR crowd?

Then there’s their fancy virtual platform.

Yes, we’ve been asking WotC for years to bundle PDF copies with physical rulebooks. Yet if you go on D&D Beyond currently, you’ll notice they’re still charging print prices for digital products. Want the print book? That’s double the price for both. At least DriveThruRPG sells the PDF and physical book together for the price of the physical copy plus shipping and still gives you the PDF.

I kind of suspect with the recent merger of OneBookShelf and Roll 20 VTT, we might be seeing WotC/Hasbro winding up to buy them both. DMsGuild is a joint venture between WotC and OneBookShelf already. I don’t think it’s going to be a big surprise if they are assimilated. It’s only a theory for now.

What concerns me the most is what the new D&D Beyond platform means for retailers. Right now, if their announcement is to be believed, they will be selling the physical copy and bundle it with the digital copy ONLY if you buy it directly from WotC. They sound to me as if they are going to cut physical retailers out of the process as much as possible and only sell directly from their website. Great for WotC, bad for your Friendly Local Game Store. We’ll see, I suppose.

As a famous rapper once said, “Don’t believe the hype.”

I already see the official/unofficial hype folks on YouTube and Twitter talking about One D&D and the playtest materials. Oh, it’s going to be great. Just listen to what they’re telling us and don’t use any discernment of your own.

WotC has made One D&D an open playtest from now until 2024. You can download the latest playtest materials and read them for yourself. Surveys for the first round were due to open September 1, 2022.

I suspect, much like any survey research, this is being done primarily as a public relations tactic. They want us to feel like we had an opinion to contribute this whole time. However, in the corporate world, that input does not matter for squat and we know it. In all likelihood, they’ve already got this new edition in the can. They’re just appeasing the fan base and making sure they’re reaching their target demographic.

Hey, what do I know? I’ve only been around since 1972 and gaming from 1982 onward. I’m just a guy with a blog, right?

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Keep playing the games you love.

Only Show Respect.

Only Show Respect, the other abbreviation of OSR. The one that we all know and love is Old School Revival. It basically just means all of us OG’s like to play original or first edition D&D and other classics from the early days of RPGs.

I wish I’d thought of this one.

I’d been kind of kibitzing with Tom from TableTop Taproom in his YouTube comments about doing a “No Hate in the OSR” logo. I had one that I was working on, but I’m not maybe as artistic as the folx Tom has access to. I’ll start using this on my OSR content as soon as I can. Love it!

Only Show Respect, the other abbreviation of OSR. The one that we all know and love is Old School Revival. It basically just means all of us OG’s like to play original or first edition D&D and other classics from the early days of RPGs.

“We’re here to game.” – Tom/Jedion.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com
The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.

Due to some seriously negative horse crap in the RPG community, a lot of us older fans really want to drive the point home that we’re NOT HERE TO HATE! I agree entirely. I’ve rallied behind this movement. Everyone is welcome, so long as they do no harm in the real world.

I’ve mentioned in other posts that a lot of us older gamers were raised in a different era. An era when treating some people with disdain, disrespect, and even hate was considered okay. Now, culture in the US and other countries has evolved. Some of us OGs are still evolving with it.

We’re taking charge of a narrative with this.

It’s no secret there are people in almost every community that hold some kind of bigoted beliefs or some personal ideals that seem a little sketchy. I shamefully fell into this category at one time. People can change! People are capable of opening their hearts and minds.

You don’t have to be a bitter, spiteful, Old Grognard forever! There is love in all of us. Open your heart and hopefully your gaming table up to new people. Leave ego and politics at the door and roll some dice together. It’s easy.

It’s not “Woke” culture.

Keep it warm and fuzzy out in the real world.

Please be respectful. Please be kind to others. Play nice. This is not new information. We didn’t just wake up one day in a world where people expect to be treated the way we want to be treated.

If one finds oneself on the receiving end of “Cancel Culture,” maybe it’s a signal that mistakes were made. In other words, if someone is getting pounded on social media for being rude, insensitive, or acting like an ass- some reflection is in order. That’s simple matter of social sanctions within a community against someone who is violating an unwritten or even sometimes written code of moral conduct.

Lovingly submitted, it’s not 1983 any more. The cultures we live in are changing. What was once considered socially acceptable is changing. It’s not a written law, it’s what others find ethically and morally acceptable now.

Hot take: What was acceptable in 1776 United States might not be so popular now.

They did what, exactly?

The Founding Fathers of the United States weren’t exactly angels in some respects. Some of them owned slaves, committed various crimes by today’s standards, and did some pretty reprehensible things back then. If someone acted that way in 2022 and got caught? They’d be going to jail for a long time.

I’ve seen many similar lists to this one from Ranker.com. While the history books paint pretty pictures of the Founding Fathers, they were not all sunshine and rainbows. My point is: what we think of as “right” and “wrong” today looks nothing like what it did in 1776, 1863, or even 1983.

RPGs written in 1980 or earlier are pretty cool, but remember from whence they came.

Even RPG designers of yesteryear are guilty of having some sketchy ethics and beliefs. I’m not going to name anyone specific. I think we all respect and admire certain RPG royalty in much the same way we admire the Founding Fathers. (Sorry, gotta go with what I know. I’m sure Canada, Great Britain, and other countries have their own versions.) None of our heroes are completely untarnished.

Pathfinder 2E (Paizo) and D&D 5E (Wizards of the Coast) are even changing what they are doing with what we called races back in the early days of gaming. We can change the way we look at our hobby and still have fun. Conflict in one form or another still drives a lot of RPGs. Those older games are still great, but we have to remember that morals and ethics were different when they were written. Things that would be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and ableist now were overlooked as the norm then.

The disclaimer that has caused so much uproar in the OSR RPG community.

That’s not to say that being a jerk is okay any time.

The “Old Grognard” in me wrestles with some these concepts regularly. Sometimes ethical and moral dilemmas are at the very heart of RPGs as well. I like a little deeper roleplaying when I’m not slugging it out with superheroes or blasting giant robots. Some of these very deep concepts can lead for epic storylines in RPGs assuming everyone at the table is cool with it.

Just because there’s literally a race reaction table in the Unearthed Arcana AD&D 1E, doesn’t mean we have to play it that way in Old School Revival. Part of the beauty of OSR is that it’s a revision or even a rewrite of the old rules. We can have the nostalgic old school feel without the messed-up old school racism, sexism, -phobia, etc.

Photo by Katie Rainbow ud83cudff3ufe0fu200dud83cudf08 on Pexels.com

I’m all about that OSR way of doing things because that’s my generation’s way of gaming.

Heck yeah! Let’s go romp through some dungeons the old beer-n-pretzels way! Slay that dragon. Grab some cool loot. Just leave the negative stuff toward other people out of the games we write and the way we play.

Then carry that attitude to our Friendly Local Game Stores. Let’s bring the fun with us to conventions. Let’s bring people into the hobby and show them how awesome roleplaying games can be. Please convey that positive, welcoming message everywhere we go.

O.nly S.how R.espect.

Thanks for stopping by!

What’s OSR?

Old School Gamers typically have been around for a long time. The reason we are somewhat attached to RPGs of the years past is because of the experience with those games/editions. Some of us have had the same Dungeons & Dragons books since they became available back then.

Old School Rules/Renaissance/Revival and what it means to me.

I’ve been seeing more rhetoric from multiple angles on this topic again lately. Maybe Go-oggle and Yu-Tube have picked up on the conversations in the room and my search history, etc. Who knows? But anyway, we’ll talk about what an OSR RolePlaying Game is as opposed to a more modern one.

Disclaimer: This is NOT about one being better than the other. Both schools of gaming thought are valid. Both styles of gaming are perfectly valid. One is no better or worse than the other. Please accept this as strictly my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

Old School Gamers typically have been around for a long time. The reason we are somewhat attached to RPGs of the years past is because of the experience with those games/editions. Some of us have had the same Dungeons & Dragons books since they became available back then.

It’s not 100% just D&D, either. There are plenty of other games and other editions of games out there from the 1970’s -1990’s that are plenty popular. Marvel Superheroes RPG has had multiple incarnations over the years. Star Frontiers has only really had one official edition so far. Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP) was around before the movies breathed new life into an old series.

Some of us OGs have been around even longers still. Remember Chainmail? Remember Warhammer before everything had a $100+ price tag. Some folx (before my time) played the predecessor to GURPS called The Fantasy Trip. (TFT) Call of Cthulhu has been around a very long time as well.

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

Now that we’ve heard about Old School, what’s considered “New” or “Modern” roleplaying?

My personal definition is anything that would be considered the most recent edition of a game. D&D 5E, for example, is most obvious. Some games such as RIFTS or Pathfinder 2E have just been reborn in newer editions, even under new systems, in the last five or ten years.

Game companies are businesses as much as we tend to forget. We would like to think the writers, editors, and production staff of these games as friends who help facilitate fun with our gaming group. We want them to do well. Unfortunately for our wallets, that usually means new editions, new sourcebooks, or new games.

New games, reboots, or new editions often take the form of a Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding effort. Most new games happen that way these days. If a product can’t pass crowdfunding muster, then it’s probably not going to happen. Some companies do the majority of what they do through Kickstarter and BackerKit almost exclusively as if retail and the PDF market are almost secondary.

Newer games tend to have a newer approach and a different attitude.

For example, D&D 5E bases level gain on Milestones (preferred) or Experience Points. Roleplay and story aspects are emphasized over combat. Older editions of D&D tended more toward smash the monster, grab the loot, gain the XP. DMs could set XP for other types of encounters, but it was quicker to go full on murderhobo if you just wanted to level up.

D&D 5E tends toward shorter dungeons, maybe five or six rooms that usually follow a somewhat logical pattern. Most of the story takes place in terms of interaction with other characters and NPCs. Most Old School NPCs were a means to an end. The loot and the monsters were the real goal and they were usually stashed away in some unbelievably huge multilevel underground complex full of traps, puzzles, and more monsters.

One last example. D&D 5E is sort of a generic system. People have created campaigns and settings for superheroes, giant robots, space opera, and even shoujo style manga roleplaying. The best part is, thanks to the Open Game License, creators can get paid for these efforts. In the before-time (Classic Star Trek reference,) there was no OGL and if you wanted to work for a game company you had to bend over backwards to get printed in a fan magazine and then pray you got picked up to write an article for Dragon. Then maybe get a foot in the door at old T$R or another established company. There were different games for everything, too.

So why is OSR so cool, exactly?

This is still all I need for old Basic D&D.

Game companies tend to drop old products like a hot rock once they cease earning money. I mean, it’s just good business, right? Sometimes they move onto a new edition. Sometimes they move onto another project altogether.

Back in the older editions of D&D we had a class. That class was pretty broadly defined in most cases. Fighter could be anything from a pirate to an axe wielding barbarian. In D&D 5E there are subclasses and even some specialization within the subclasses. There are more ways to customize your character than you can shake a stick at and a rule for every one of them. (This is also why Pathfinder 2E is 700+ pages for just the core rulebook.)

If we didn’t have a rule for something back then, we just made it up. Admittedly, some DMs had entire three-ring binders full of house rules. It was fast, it was loose, and it was fun! Our character’s actions were mostly limited by our imaginations.

AD&D 1st Ed had the Fiend Folio and two Monster Manuals. Anything beyond that had to be created by the DM. Nowadays we have how many official books plus dozens of third party monster books? It staggers the imagination and the gaming budget. That’s why I love Dungeon Crawl Classics (an OSR game,) so much. I end up creating and describing most of the creatures I want.

Another case to be made for OSR games is we know there really aren’t any sourcebooks coming out for the original editions. However, newer replicas of these old games serve two main purposes: to bring back rulesets into an OGL framework and to allow for the publishing of old homebrew adventures under the new (old) ruleset while still keeping it fresh. I truly wish I had hung onto some of my old dungeon maps.

Some modern RPG companies have found ways to cash in on old trademark IP. They’re selling reprints in PDF and even Print On Demand copies of old games. This is great because it gives new players a chance to get the old stuff without having to photocopy some beleaguered book the GM has been using for 40 years. There aren’t as many notes and coffee stains on the reprints, either.

I love both.

Fun old times. New fun times to be had. It’s all good.

I’m a roleplaying game fanatic at heart. I’ll run, write, or even play just about anything. It’s still a game. The rules are superfluous to having fun. I like crunchy bits like no other, but I do enjoy a good story, too. Whatever gets us there is fine.

I like older editions of some games for their charm, nostalgia, and fond memories they hold for me. A lot of old curmudgeons balk at new rulesets or editions. I welcome at least taking a look at them. Sometimes the new rules and art of newer editions draw me in. Sometimes they make me want to stick to the old stuff.

It’s also funny to convert newer RPG creatures and ideas into retro games. First, it makes me look like I made it up. Second, it gives me a reference to fall back on if I get stuck. There’s a lot of stuff we wish we had back then that is commonly available now. Plus, I know some OG curmudgeonly gamers have never picked up any new material. Heh heh heh…

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you regardless of editions or game systems. Hope you’re having fun. See you soon.

Does OSR Create Imposter Syndrome?

I mean, nothing new here, right? The RPG industry isn’t the first to run into this particular dilemma. How many truly original plots are there for movies, TV shows, YouTube podcasts, video games, comic books, and cartoons can there possibly be? The RPG industry is just one of the fresher faces on the block compared to other print media, radio, movies and TV.

Man, I thought this was going to be a gaming article.

Looking at the many various websites that have converted the old D&D material into Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC.) I was looking for old D&D modules from B/X and AD&D 1E that had been converted to DCC. I was also on my side quest for OA material that had been converted to Old School Rules. Turns out there’s a LOT of stuff out there. Like, a shockingly large amount out there.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m just wondering what am I even doing here any more? OSR already felt a bit like we were reinventing the wheel. Now it’s more like I’m trying to reverse engineer a Lamborghini. It’s like I’m way in over my head AND it’s all been done before only better. I feel like I showed up late for the game, in the wrong season, for the wrong team, not even the same sport.

I get that the definition of “retro clone” means it has been done before.

Photo by Rodrigo Chaves on Pexels.com

But, I was really digging DCC RPG anyway. I still do. I will probably even put some stuff up on the site here. But getting paid for it?

I feel like I’m barking up the wrong tree, in the dark, in the neighbor’s yard, three blocks over, and I’m a canary. Imposter syndrome? This is like a whole freaking plague of imposterism. Imposterishness? Imposteritis? Imposterior?

The idea was simple at first. Find a game I like. Find an OGL I can work with. Create material. Put material up for sale. Advertise and promote the material. Get paid, even if it’s a pittance in credit on DriveThruRPG. I mean, I can still do all of that, I guess.

I don’t remember the part where I discover new information, and then mentally trip, fall, stumble, and hit my head on the wall repeatedly.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

I mean, nothing new here, right? The RPG industry isn’t the first to run into this particular dilemma. How many truly original plots are there for movies, TV shows, YouTube podcasts, video games, comic books, and cartoons can there possibly be? The RPG industry is just one of the fresher faces on the block compared to other print media, radio, movies and TV.

There are probably over 100 different fantasy RPGs alone. Sci-Fi RPGs, Supers, Cyberpunk and Post Apocalyptic games are not far behind. I really feel sorry for folks operating in the Horror genre in any medium, much less RPGs. (Horror- literally competing with campfire stories in verbal tradition since man began creating stories. Yeesh.)

Retro RPGs are not entirely new, either. GURPS and Mythras are two examples of games born from much older roleplaying engines. GURPS isn’t new, either. The RPG industry is chock full of examples of people taking older games and repurposing/rebranding them to make money for themselves. D&D itself was an outgrowth of the miniatures wargaming hobby.

Disclaimer: I want to clarify this is not about a specific product, but a category of RPG products. OSR and OSRIC are a line of RPGs that closely mimic rules of original fantasy and other games from the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dungeons & Dragons is the main focus of many of these games, but not the only one.

So, why am I here, exactly?

I’ll be in a better mood later.

The whole thing makes me wonder what do I have to offer? Like, at all? Should I go back to mopping floors or pumping coffee? (My back can’t really handle either, but sometimes I speculate. ) I’ve been at this for almost a year now. The self doubt has gone from creeping in to a flash flood. I just don’t know right now.

I’ve been posting daily to this blog in one form or another for almost six months solid. I’m not making a ton of money off of it. (Read: none whatsoever, much to the chagrin of my missus.)

Do I stop writing material for RPGs and about them? Do I just go back to running a game or two on the weekend for a few close friends and family members? It’s frustrating, it’s uncomfortable, and it likely means positive growth is coming in some way, shape or form.

Tonight, I’m upset. Tomorrow, I’ll meditate and be in a better mood. My inspiration will return. It’s just a small setback.

Back to the original question.

Why do we have OSR, anyway? I mean, I know a lot of well-meaning Old Grognards have a hard time accepting new editions of D&D. Okay. Back when reprints weren’t as commonly available, I can see that. But now? I own originals, reprints, pdf printouts, and digital copies of lots of old rulebooks. I also have a ton of bookmarks to sites that still rock the old game.

So, why is OSR a thing? It’s much the same idea as a throwback basketball jersey or reproduction Air Jordans. The idea is to take an old concept or product and alter it slightly and sell it for money. In RPG terms, same old rules, same old game, new title, art, and trade dress.

Where does the creative license come in?

Where’s the creative freedom in copying/rewriting the same old rules and slapping a new coat of paint on it? People like classic cars, too. I’d drive a rebuilt 1984 IROC-Z if I could. BUT… I wouldn’t be able to haul my family in it. In RPG terms, many of us run a current system/ruleset because it’s more widely available, popular and accessible to find a game.

If I walk into a FLGS on a Saturday and say, “Who wants to play in my 5E game?” I’m far more likely to get some takers than if I walk in and ask, “Who wants to play Tunnels & Trolls?” Many times, old fashioned bulletin boards or online groups/apps will help someone find a game for a specialized RPG such as Lancer. Likewise, it’s easy to walk into a club meeting full of Old Grognards and find a AD&D 1E game, Castles & Crusades, or White Box Swords & Wizardry, because those guys probably won’t need any explanation.

Why do I love DCC so darn much?

I chose that particular retro clone of D&D because it’s flexible, reminds me of multiple editions, and is a lot of fun to run. There’s nostalgia, cool dice, and lots of fun charts for everything/anything. It’s like Warhammer Fantasy and Rolemaster had a love child.

I love DCC because I can (re)create classes and concepts that I used to love. I can pump out new and different monsters or port them over from other games, D&D editions, etc. I own a sickening number of old monster books, especially from D&D 3rd Ed. They happen to work very well with DCC/MCC. So does Gamma World, strangely enough.

I’ll admit, I also have a strong sense of nostalgia and that’s present in DCC more than other games. I would still run Basic D&D per the Rules Cyclopedia if I didn’t have to come up with 5 copies of the game to distribute to my players. DCC is relatively cheap and easy to find, so is D&D 5E. Either works. One is easier to explain thanks to Critical Role.

The “Old Grognard Effect” does more damage to new players than Matt Mercer ever could.

Old Grognards of the world, OG roleplayers of the world, hear me please. There is a very ugly tendency amongst older gamers to exclude or act as gatekeepers to the hobby. The ugly act of discrimination affects the gaming table the same as anything else. Simply put- please treat people with kindness and understanding?

I hear a lot of stories about OGs gaming in public. Why do you go play at a game store with the same old group and the same old game if you’re not going to let other people join or even watch? Go hang out in the DM’s mom’s basement for five hours and continue to ignore the new players entirely.

Part of the appeal of D&D 5E is its current popularity. Please, let them learn about the “good old days” elsewhere after they’ve had a few sessions under their belts. Keeping new folx excluded from the hobby is ultimately self-destructive toward the hobby and industry. Please, don’t do it. Gatekeeping is unnecessary and kinda stupid.

The homebrew factor.

People have been hacking the rules and creating their own material for games since the dawn of D&D. B/X and AD&D 1E were a glorious and wonderful proving ground for funky new game mechanics, previously unseen or unheard-of monsters, and freakishly cool magic items. Some of us feel like D&D 5E is tied very heavily to the rules, even when they’re broken and dysfunctional.

We never needed a “Rule of cool” back then because all you ever needed was DM approval. It was the DM’s table, his rules. (I use male pronouns because unfortunately ladies were rare in the hobby back then.) Likewise, DMs could cook up some new, weird idea for a class, spell, magic item, or monster they could run it. If it flopped, it could be gone the next week or revised.

Heck, back then we didn’t have “Based on X Edition” mechanics. If someone built a game based on D&D, but set entirely in space? It was a “NEW” game. Most designers had the sense to rename the attributes, classes, abilities, magic and add spiffy rayguns. They wouldn’t rip the game off directly, but they could definitely steal concepts to make money. Sounds like what OSR games do. Hmmm….

Plenty more to discuss next time. Thanks for letting me rant. Feeling better now. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you.

“Old Grognard”

I don’t consider myself to be a grumpy old man gamer, aka “Old Grognard.” Rather, I’m an older, slightly more mature, experienced gamer.

I don’t find this term offensive. Do you?

Yes, I’ve been around a while. Back when I first started using the Internet, there was this thing called “Usenet News” that I got all of my RPG news and reviews on. It was a forum like any other. Many of the same truths and toxic attitudes still prevail today. Thus began my love-hate relationship with forums.

I love Instagram. Every community I’ve joined over there has been helpful, supportive, and fun. I love you guys. Keep up the good work.

My Facebook RPG experiences have been somewhat limited, as have my forays into Reddit and Pinterest. Really not much to comment on there. Is YouTube considered “Social Media?” If it is, I watch a lot of videos on there. Again, I like pretty much all of the content I consume, or I wouldn’t be watching it.

Then there’s Twitter. After the Ufology community showed its true, very ugly colors, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be deleting my account. So I started hanging out over on the #ttrpg side. Thus far, I have found it to be a warm, supportive, positive group of peers 98% of the time I interact with anyone. (Okay, I’ve had one less stellar experience, but it was mostly miscommunication.) I love all you beautiful people over there #ttrpgfamily. I’m grateful for all of my followers.

I’m not that old.

I mean, I’m 49. My roots go back to T$R Marvel and BECMI when it was new. I’ve been in the hobby for almost 40 years. Yes, there were good old days.

But that doesn’t mean I’m stuck there. Yeah, I know guys older than me who will never give up their lead minis and boardgames with cardboard chits. They’re reluctant or downright intragnizent when it comes to learning/playing anything new, even if it’s a reprint. Change is truly frightening for some folks. That’s before we start adding technology to the works. Yeesh.

D&D has plenty of throwbacks, and so do I.

Lately, I’ve been encouraged by a friend to get back into more rules-lite, Old School Roleplaying. I’m monkeying around with Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics (Goodman Games,) and Frontier Space (DwD Studios.) I really like that kind of old world BECMI, Gamma World, and Star Frontiers feeling.

That’s not to say I’m abandoning 5E D&D, Pathfinder 2E, or anything. Still tons of fun to be had with any game. If nothing else, playing older games makes me appreciate both eras of play and those play styles that much more.

RPGs have evolved over the years, and so have I.

Beer and pretzels was a style of play back when I started. We did some goofy things running around in dungeons just for the fun of it. We hacked and slashed our way to finding incredible treasures and fought freaky, sometimes bizarre monsters. Some of those dungeons made very little logical sense to begin with. I enjoyed those games as much as I imagine people do Critical Role now.

As the years progressed and we matured as people and as players, some games turned more dramatic. We still talk about those with the same affection and fondness as we do about the half-crazed dungeon romps. Characters and stories mean more nowadays. That’s cool. I think there’s room for both yet.

There’s room for all.

I don’t consider myself to be a grumpy old man gamer, aka “Old Grognard.” Rather, I’m an older, slightly more mature, experienced gamer. I’ll allow pretty much anyone at my table. I’m here to have fun however that comes about. I don’t hold any grudges, and I don’t begrudge any particular play style. Just enjoy the game. That’s what we’re there for. No worries as long as someone’s not ruining it for everyone else at the table.

Yes. I’m sure I’ll still get lumped in with the other old Grognards. I’ll still gladly play Man O War or whatever else they want to pull out when I’m hanging out with those friends, too. Likewise, if I’ve got a group of 20-something 5E players, we’re going to probably be a bit more character intensive.

On the other hand, I’ll offer up some Old School concepts to my younger audience. It’s fun to watch younger players racking their brains to come up with solutions to old school traps and puzzles as long as I don’t overwhelm anyone. There’s also some oldie-but-goodie treasure to be given out and even a few bizarre, somewhat goofy monsters to fight that may not appear anywhere in the newer books.

Lots more to come. I’m going to be putting out some add-ons to old school games that came to mind recently. I’ve also got a few newer projects I’ve been working on for fun that I’ll be putting up somewhere here eventually that are kind of old new school or new old school…however that’s supposed to work. (You know what I mean.) I’m still contemplating various aspects of FATE, Pathfinder 2E and Starfinder, too. The RPG world is never boring.

Next time, let’s talk a little about Hex Crawls. What are they and what do we do with them? Game on!

Today’s Learning Experience was…

Being an avid tabletop roleplaying game fan has taught me a lot of things in life.

Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guild Logo c/o Wizards of the Coast.

Okay, so this is intended to be pretty lighthearted. As is probably known, and I’m not trying to brag, I have become a bit of a Renaissance man over the years. My choir director in high school used to actually chide me about that, even when I was around sixteen. Back then it was sports, electronics, photography, art, writing, Spanish, theatre and Dungeons & Dragons. Nowadays it’s UFOlogy, spirituality, Law of Attraction, self development, cooking, kids, Instagram, writing, and Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve been at this game since I was about 11 years old. They featured a guy about my age on CNN who’s still got his game going, if you want a comparison.

One summer wayyy back in the 1980’s a friend that I met at the swimming pool introduced me to this really neat-o game called “Marvel Superhero Role-Playing.” I was a huge comics fan and it only seemed natural. Sure enough, I was drawn to it like ants on sugar. My friend thought it was awesome because they passed the job of running the game off onto me. Ha! D&D was soon to follow, like, the next day. My friend thought running the game sucked and somehow that’s why I needed to be in charge.

Marvel Super Heroes RPG Judge’s Book

The joke was on him. (Sorry, Travis.) I’m still going strong 35+ years later. Obviously not on the same campaign or even the same game, but you get the point. I love tabletop role playing games. It has pushed me to become a better writer, learn journalism, sociology, and so many other things. I even met my wife at a gaming convention back many, many years ago. I’ve had the privilege of working for three game stores over the years plus a few writing endeavors.

Of course, there have been some lean years with me and the hobby. In high school, we were still in the era of “D&D is a scary satanic cult and obviously all you kids who play it are going to burn in hell.” I can’t count the number of times they tried to sell us on that one, even at school assemblies. That shit was hilarious. Obviously no one in my group of friends was remotely dissuaded from doing anything. I mean, seriously? It’s a GAME, people! Not even a competitive one. (Maybe that’s what was confusing. Who knows?) As far as I am aware, this hobby has never successfully been branded a cult, caused a suicide, or managed to summon an actual demon. It’s a burnt-out old fear paradigm… Moving on.

Then there was college. No joke, I ended up bouncing majors no less than a half dozen times before coming back to journalism and sociology. Writing + Interacting with people. It made sense to me, anyway but I’ll be honest, more than a little influenced by my love for RPG’s. It’s not like a theatre career was going anywhere from here in the armpit of the theatrical world. (Sorry not sorry. It’s true. Iowa is not known for Broadway productions.) Although ironically, D&D 5E has risen in mainstream popularity because of a group of voice actors doing a gaming podcast called “Critical Role.”

Lastly, my real moment of Homer Simpson at the Bowling Alley came when I stopped working part time at our Friendly Local Game Store because we had two kids at the time and I needed a real, good paying, full-time job. (Blech! 🤢) I know, right? (The Bowling Alley was Homer’s dream job in case you missed it.) My wife and I even had to give up our regular game sessions because my work schedule totally didn’t mesh with trying to run a regular game. That, and we’re up to four kids. What time?

BUT, never to be discouraged, I have kept up on the industry pretty well and I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to get involved. I have a second blog, second Instagram Account and I’m debating about expanding a couple of other ways once the Covid thing dies down some more. @sellsword.games and sellswordgames.game.blog if you’re curious. Not much there to look at yet, but I’m still working on it. Writing, collecting, interacting with the community, and learning a lot about self publishing have become a fascination of mine.

To make matters even more awesome, my kids are getting old enough to become interested in the hobby. Woot! Time to break out the dice and the DM’s Screen again. Yes! Under mom’s careful supervision, of course.

Today, I learned…
(Photo courtesy of Disney Jr.)

So, getting to the gist of what I was originally starting to say before I got a little sidetracked down memory lane. Today, I learned a couple of neat things. One is WordPress, (Love you guys ❤😁) was missing a command to show my other blog over on the other page. LOL! My bad for not proofing my page, not theirs.

Another thing I learned, in my research for starting a new gaming zine, is that apparently while print is mostly dying, zines are still around, sorta? Most of the major online hobby magazines have dissolved into one of about three or four different places.

The first and most obvious is Patreon. Patreon lets you choose how much content you want to give as a publisher for a certain dollar amount. I have some hangups when it comes to Patreon that I will discuss some other time. It’s cool, but at the same time, maybe not my thing? The verdict is still out on that one.

The next place I’ve seen a lot of zines disappear to is different websites and blogs. This is why I am developing a blog and eventually site pages to go with it over on my other site. Maybe some premium content eventually. It’s in the works sometime down the road.

Then there’s the App market. This actually surprised me a little. Yes, I know. Probably seems a little strange to some of the younger folks. Even the company I work for has a rewards app these days. But somehow I didn’t see this thing with the magazine coming.

Dragon+ is what has become of my beloved Dragon Magazine now an app. Sigh.
(Logo property of Wizards of the Coast.)

Lastly, and this is where my jumping-on point was originally, is the PDF market. I would have thought for sure that this was the way to go. I mean, we used to buy actual print magazines for $4.99. A lot of print books are now exclusively PDFs now. The PDF market, or rather the e-publishing marketplace is the way to go on so many other things now, right? At least if you’re looking to self publish, anyway.

I mean, I understand that the game publishing community is one of profit and commerce. Maybe not a millionaire maker, but at least enough to buy the next book from some other company that comes along or enough cash to buy a pizza. I’m not looking to get rich. Turns out a lot of the hosting sites for PDF publishing charge a pretty hefty percentage off the top of your product, especially the folks at the Dungeon Masters Guild. Go figure. It’s more about the love of the game, anyway.

But, there’s a real added value to this experience. By learning how the gaming market comes together, I’m learning WordPress and web marketing as well as so many other fun facts today. Play the clowny outro music. I’m outta here for the day. Zing!

%d bloggers like this: