Saturday, April 27, 2013

And Another Thing...

Well, lately, I've been obsessing over my old Dungeons and Dragons games. This was spurred on by the unexpected deaths of the creators of the game, Gary Gygax, and Dave Arnoson.They died a year apart from one another, a few years ago, and since then, more of the early writers and artists have been kicking off their mortal coils, and well, frankly, it's been weird...And not just in a 'mid life crisis, the world is over, we're all going to die' - sort of way...It's weirder because of the Internet.

Since the 1990's D+D has been going through these radical revisions in attempt to compete with video and computer games (ironically, some D+D like computer games, and their code, were built by TSR people in the early 80's). Anyway, the D+D I grew up with the late 70's and early 80's (the so called Golden Era) has made this huge come back. Partly inspired by all the early edition creators dying, but more importantly, the people that played those games back then have kids today, and they're proudly digging out their old rule books and playing old school D+D with them. It's a freaking explosion.

They have self published game for any version of D+D you could desire. And later this year, Wizards of the Coast ( the company that owns D+D ) is putting out an all new 5th edition of the game - rumors are spreading far and wide that it's going to return to it's early 1974 roots, in an effort to reclaim The Game.

Even I picked up the 3rd edition rules to play the game with my son and his friends when it first arrived back in 2000-2001. Yes, we started with the basic set (pre-rolled Regdar and Lidda live to this day, but Naul wasn't so lucky), and then moved onto the hardback books / rules. The snag we had was when D+D 3.5 was released months later, effectively dismissing the 3.0 rules of the game. Oh sure, it's the same game, but nothing turns you off faster than having to fork over a paycheck for a game you already own. That, and having a 12 year old get overwhelmed with a new layout, format, and expanded rules. But, I should've known better from the start.  

The publishing history of D+D is riddled with court cases involving everything from free speech, intellectual property, copyright violations, to hideous homicides. It's ... complicated...There's a fine line that separates compatible with plagiarism, real  from fantasy, and it's one D+D has been struggling with for decades (which also staggers the mind as well). When enough time rolls by, I'm sure we'll get a book that gives us the behind the scenes look at what was really going on back then, but for now, the details are sketchy, and, depending on your perspective, open to interpetation. It's odd...With sooooo much information dedicated to one game, it's amazing how much we don't know about the day-to-day business of the companies in charge, it's past dealings with home (and international) pressures, warring egos, and the such. You can research the bajeezus out of the books they released, and goggle the names of the people involved, read countless interviews and contecture (like this blog) and still come away with more questions than answers. But if you want to know how much damage a cursed, staff of striking + 2, + 3 to magic-users does, we got you covered.

It's not all bad...If my son was 12 years old now, I'd be up to my eyeballs in Pokemon games and Skylander Toys...And that stuff is expensive.


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