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Brandon: Greetings! If you missed part one of this little series you can read it here. For those who have already read part one and for those who don’t wish to the long and the short of it is that popular culture piqued my interest in D&D and I never did get around to actually playing it. The goal of this article is to explain how I finally did start playing Dungeons & Dragons.
Part of it starts with these dice.
After all of my interest and never playing D&D I was ready to make it happen. I felt that getting these dice would force the issue for myself. But wait. Why am I now suddenly buying dice? Why am I now hot to get started? It’s actually hard to pin down. I know it had something to do with re-watching Freaks and Geeks. If you have missed this show you should check it out. The show takes place in 1980 and has a wonderful D&D episode titled “Discos and Dragons”. Freaks and Geeks is streaming on Netflix as of the writing of this article.
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising may also have had something to do with my new dedication to getting started. It’s an entertaining movie about people playing Dungeons and Dragons that flits between the real world and the game world.
While Freaks and Geeks and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising did have something to do with my sudden urgency to role play as a dwarf or half-orc it was also that our family was playing more tabletop games than before. Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop increased our already keen interest in board games. Tarehna and I used to play Axis and Allies in college and then played Settlers of Catan and The Great Dalmuti with friends after college. We were finding games like Castle Panic and Pandemic and were spending more time playing more and more tabletop games. If anything, D&D was an extension of this activity and inevitable at this point.
But, how did I actually get started. Remember those dice? The ones pictured above? They were a promise to myself; a guarantee. They could not get me where I needed to be on their own. Nor could I, for the life of me, figure out how to get started past buying those dice. Friends to the rescue!
One friend sent me a PDF of the Player’s Handbook 4th edition. It was a good way to try to figure out what I was going to be doing. It seems so simple: get the handbook. That was how little I knew. I didn’t know that all I had to do was get the handbook to start. To an extent that is why sites promoting tabletop gaming are so important. They are guide books.
So, now I have the 4th edition PHB (Player’s Handbook) and I am researching how to play and it’s just not quite taking. There were two issues. The first issue was that I was having a lot of trouble navigating the PDF. The second issue was 4th edition. It wasn’t my thing. It felt too intricate or complicated. More friends to the rescue!
Quick side note and then back to our regularly scheduled programming. I met all of these friends helping me out as an adult. They had all played D&D when they were younger. These are the people I wish I had known when I was younger.
Back to the story! More friends to the rescue! Between two different friends I acquired, free of charge, the 3.5 versions of The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, and The Monster Manual. My two issues were solved. I had physical books and they weren’t 4th edition. Let me be clear. I am not bagging on 4th edition. I am simply stating that it was not for me. Physical books and 3.5 edition were just what I needed.
To be continued…
Look at that! I can’t believe this is happening. If you check your rule books you’ll see it’s time to end this installment of “Brandon Rambles about D&D”. Up next: A short discussion of games actually played and some tantalizing RPG alternatives to Dungeons and Dragons. Thanks for joining us again and see you next time!
Brandon: Greetings, Player Characters and Dungeon Masters! If you are looking for a coherent post on the merits and mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) please look elsewhere. If, however, you are interested in my meandering musings on my personal history, or lack thereof, with D&D then please sit down and stay awhile.
Let’s just jump in, shall we?
I have two early memories of D&D. The first is the Dungeons & Dragons television program. The show aired from 1983 to 1985 according to sources on the interwebs. I don’t remember that. I don’t even remember that I was the age that I was. For the record, I was youngish. What I do remember is how it made me feel. To be clear, it made me feel amazing. I loved the concept: children thrown into another world and handed magical items and told it was up to them to save that world. I loved the character classes: Acrobat, Ranger, Cavalier, Magician, Thief, Barbarian. And who could forget Dungeon Master and Uni the baby unicorn. Venger was an impressive looking villain and then there was Tiamat. Multi-headed dragon!!
I wanted to be the Ranger so bad. He had a super cool faux medieval outfit and an energy bow. No bow string. Just the bow and when you wanted you pulled back and an energy bowstring magically appeared and shot glowing energy arrows!
I could go on about my analysis of that show that I have done as an adult; the interpersonal issues of the group, the villains(Venger!), the way the group interacted with different groups of people, and that the show started dealing with some heavy stuff towards the end. All this in just 13 episodes. But, I want to stick to my memory as a child, and as a child I just thought this show was rad.
My second early memory is of buying a Warduke toy at Toys ‘R Us right around this time. The skull shield was incredible! I was staying with my dad for the Summer and my step brother at the time made a comment that was basically, “Wow, you’re into that devil stuff. You’re weird.” Now, to explain, I wasn’t “into D&D”. I like the show. I liked this toy. That was about it. I wish I still had that toy. But, Derek’s comment(his name was Derek) does lead us into my next interaction with D&D, which was nothing. Nothing. I liked the show. I liked my toy. I had some interest in playing and I have a vague memory of making what I thought was a character sheet, but then nothing.
Let me magically transport us all to my time in high school. Not the happiest time in my life. Not the worst, but a close second. I was not suddenly immersed in the world of D&D with similarly outcast friends. I was playing guitar in the jazz band at school and also playing in a heavy metal/progressive metal band in my spare time. Somewhere in there I saw the movie Mazes & Monsters.
The movie had actually come out before the D&D tv show, but I didn’t see it until, well, high school. I highly recommend seeing this movie. You must understand that it is based on a book that is largely hokum and that it came out at a time when there was a large D&D backlash based solely on fear of the unknown. “Oh no! People and children are playing a game where they pretend to be wizards. Witchcraft! Will no one save the children!” If I remember correctly this was also around the time of heavy metal deprogramming camps. Yes, those existed. People had their children abducted and sent to camps to get them to stop listening to that devil music.
I am getting off track. Remember though, I told you this would be meandering. Back to my point…the current point…?
There is a type of person who watches Scarface and says to them-self “That’s the life for me!” Without spoiling too much, the story does not go well for the main character in the end. It’s a cautionary tale of sorts. Mazes & Monsters is meant to be a cautionary tale as well. It did not make me afraid of Dungeons & Dragons at all. It made me want to play it. And so, I didn’t. Seriously. I still didn’t get into D&D. I kept playing guitar. I read books. I built a book case.
Then in 1994 I was introduced to Magic The Gathering(MTG). This was a revelation. This was a whole world in a tiny little box. Those first boxes spoke to me. They were made to look like small spell books. There was lore and all of these familiar and unfamiliar monsters and creatures and people. Tarehna and I wound up playing a lot of MTG and had a suitcase full of cards. Then we stopped playing and we donated that suitcase full of cards. And still, I had never played D&D.
Oh my. Would you look at that? Look. Look up above. Do you see how much you have read so far. I haven’t actually even shared anything significant yet, but here you are at the end of it. Well, at the end of Part 1 at least. I didn’t know this was going to happen. Looks like there will be a Part 2. Thank you so much for reading my ramblings on not playing D&D. If you join us for Part 2 I guarantee that you will be able to read about how I finally got to play Dungeons & Dragons when I was no longer youngish, but, in fact, was oldish.
First, the bad news. Spaghetti and Meeples has been honored and privileged to be a part of Pathological Nerdcasters Network. Unfortunately its time has come to an end. You should still follow that link and be sure to check out all of the content and follow all of the contributors. Those of us who were a part of PNCN still have our own private section of the internet and will keep in touch. So, do not worry on that account.
The good news? We are now incredibly surprised, amazed, and also honored to be a part of Punchboard Media. And not to worry. Many of your favorite PNCN contributors will be at Punchboard Media as well.
This is such an exciting community to belong to with many creative individuals and teams bringing you the best in geek and tabletop culture.
We were finally able to weed through the mountains and mountains of footage from Gamestorm 19 to bring you this tight 8 min video!!
Edit: Had to reupload as there were mobile audio issues on original uplaod.
Questing is treacherous business, and no one knows more acutely than the heroes and villains taking part in fantasy live action role playing (LARP) events. Luckily for their fictional personas, there are healing spells and potions in case of injury. But should their real-world selves get hurt during the game, these miracle salves have no effect. Fortunately, the real world has LARP insurance.
Brandon: Recently Tarehna had her students study Athens and then rap about it. Not long after she ran into Vers: The Rap Game on Kickstarter. This looks like a fun game that will push me out of my comfort zone. I am not one to rap in front of people, or alone for that matter. That fear, however, has not stopped me from backing Vers. I am really excited about this game. It also has beautiful art. Take a look and see if it’s not something you might be interested in.
Founded by Jerry Spatch, a Boston Freestyle Rapper and a current entrepreneurship student at Northeastern University. Spatch Games is a winner of Northeastern’s Husky Start-up Challenge and was featured in Bostinno magazine as an up-and-coming start-up. Vers: The Rap Game is a product of Spatch Games.
Vers was created to break down what you know about rapping and make it for people everywhere.
“I was tired of people in university saying I shouldn’t rap because it was unprofessional. Everywhere I went, when people heard about rap they’d think of a bunch of things that it wasn’t. So I made the game and it’s fun and silly and everyone can play it.”
Brandon: It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Thursday Thoughts segment. They were started back when we were Board Game Jungle. Recently a tweet from Eric Lang was shared in one of the board game groups I follow and I was completely perplexed by some of the reactions. I discuss the reactions and my thoughts in the video below…
Follow Eric Lang @eric_lang