So, I spend four of the best gaming days of my life at GenCon last week sorta immersing myself in the world of indie games and all this really powerful creativity from the game designers at the Forge booth. I bought a bunch of games, played some badass game sessions (including the supa-bad session of Burning Wheel), and really got inspired to play all these cool games and even put my money (and time) where my mouth has been all these years and WRITE a game.
All good, right? Right. So what did spend way too much of my time thinking about today? Starting a group to play some beer’n’pretzels dungeon crawling using Castles & Crusades (or AD&D) to run a bunch of those Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics.
I think the reason why is that I’ve finally — FINALLY! — figured out some issues I was having about gaming. As Tim will attest, I’ve spent way to much time bellyachin’ about trying to reconcile a lot of nostalgia for playing D&D when I was a kid and the sort of games we tend to play now which are polar opposites of what D&D has become
I LOVE LOVE LOVE collaborative world/setting creation, player authorship, conflict resolution, setting stakes, etc. etc. — all those new school RPG techniques, but I also have this real soft spot for classic D&D style fantasy that stems completely from all those years of playing AD&D from age 12 to about 17 or 18. It’s almost all pure nostalgia, because what I remember most about those years is hanging out with my friends (ostensibly playing D&D) and playing D&D with myself (making charactersheets with a typewriter, drawing maps, creating dungeons, etc.) when I wasn’t hanging out with my friends. There’s more of that than actual in-game memories (though there are plenty of those, too).
I ran a D&D 3.5e Eberron campaign last fall that ended in a real crash and burn. The problem? I spent a lot of time trying to drift D&D into something more like Burning Wheel, with predictably disastrous results. In fact, you can see it unfold in real time in my “101 Days of D&D” series here on the blog. Even though we gave up on the D&D campaign, I never gave up on that dream of revisiting my youth through D&D. It’s been an annoyance in the back of my head as regards RPGs for the last nine months or so.
At GenCon, I came to a realization: that I can both revisit my youth AND move forward with the world of RPGs that really excite me, but I just can’t do them both at the same time. The quandary now, though, is that I want to be able to game more than one night a week, so that I can run an old school game for fun and nostalgia and play in another group to enjoy the “now” stuff. That problem, though, is a welcome change from trying to hold both goals in my head at the same time.