Received an email (early) this morning from one of my Baranof players, Josh (he plays the dwarf, Bognine…is it just me or does anyone else picture the lovable drunk from Airwolf when I say that name?).
[wasn’t that character’s name Corky? Or was that the kid with down syndrome from Party of Five? I don’t know…I didn’t watch much TV in the mid-late 80s except The Cosby show. Too busy playing Dungeons & Dragons, I guess]
Anyway, he was just dropping me a line to say he enjoyed the blog (hi, if you’re reading!) and provide me with some background on his past gaming experience, including a similar pattern as myself (played Dungeon! for awhile then started in on Basic D&D). Of course, he first picked up the Mentzer red box, not the Moldvay version, circa 1983.
Now if I’m remembering correctly, Josh is the same age as myself (though he does have the look of one of those Year of the Tiger guys, i.e. born in ’74) but due in part to this small difference, our ideas of role-playing may be built on completely different foundations.
And it’s not even that big a difference! To me, that’s pretty amazing…I probably got my copy of Moldvay in ’82…I know I was reading those Endless Quest books around the same time (they were published in 1982), which I believe were illustrated by Elmore (indicating he was already in TSR’s stable of artists by that time).
Remember when 1 or 2 years made a huge difference in your relationship with other people? Nowadays it has almost no effect of course…many of us are married to folks older or younger than ourselves, and I’d guess all of us have friends or game with people of a wide age range (I know I do).
As a kid, this was never the case. Age…and class year…can seem so darn important for so long. Elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school…even upper classman to lower classman within schools, the gulf can feel enormous. Thank God we grow out of it!
[for me, I think I finally came around to ignoring age circa my second year in college…for the next three years I continued to get in relationships with different women who all remained the same age (19) even as I kept getting older. Like that line from Dazed and Confused, I guess. Plus “drinking age” is a great equalizer as well…]
These days, it doesn’t matter whether someone’s 28 or 42, equalizing factors come instead from mutual life experiences. “Can I relate to you?” is no longer a question of whether we are in the same level math class, but rather if we share the same interests. Do you game? Are you married? Do you have a dog? Did you see last Sunday’s Seahawks game?
And yet…despite that, this small difference from our distant childhoods can completely color our gaming hobby. A guy who started playing D&D in 1979 with the Holmes edition is going to have a pretty different take on the game than someone who started in 1983 with Mentzer…even though their age difference is only 5 years apart. It’s kind of mind-blowing, don’t you think?
Or maybe not to some…personally, I’ve been so steeped in the OSR blog-o-sphere the last 18 months, that I may have lost some much needed perspective. But to ME, it seems like these little differences are like life and death to folks…look at MY blog, for goodness sake! A ton of it seems to be devoted to passionately expounding on the virtues of Moldvay/Cook/Holmes, and with good reason: it’s the best dammit!
But a person just a year or two younger than me might feel the same about Mentzer. And a person a year or two older might feel the same about Holmes. And even though, I’d be willing to play a game with someone age 25 (that would mean he or she was born in 1985, long after the release of ANY of these “basic sets”) I have a feeling that it might be a challenge to introduce my style of play to someone who grew up with D20 as the baseline of Dungeons & Dragons.
3rd Edition just celebrated its 10th anniversary! Kids who started playing when they were 10 or 11 are now hitting the bars! Kids that started playing in high school might be starting families…or may be unemployed and looking for work in this economy…but otherwise are probably not much different from me. Besides fuller heads of hair.
Mmm…I guess what I’m getting at here is MAYBE some of us crazy-ass pundit-types (like moi) have lost sight of what the game is all about in our denigration of un-favored editions (like I have with 2nd and 3rd edition or most RPGs with “skill systems”).
MAYBE, I said…and I certainly feel there’s still plenty of scorn to be heaped on that shit-pile called 4th edition that dares to call itself a “role-playing game.” That’s like feeding poison to children and someone at Hasbro/WotC needs to be bitch-slapped.
BUT…with regard to other RPGs, even the grossly over-blown ones like Champions and GURPS...well, it may be that only the span of a few short years (or months) prevented those from being MY “game of choice.” If it’s still role-playing AND if it continues to create interest/enthusiasm in keeping the game alive, then have at it. Folks should take things I say with a grain of salt anyway. After all, I’m still intrigued at the thought of playing a game like Terra Primate.
Reflections on cultural osmosis
19 minutes ago