Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons and Me: 30 years on

D&D Basic Set box cover art
Dungeons & Dragons has been around for a little longer than 30 years; I think something close to 35 year or older if you count Chainmail and the other early works by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was around Easter in 1981 that I got a copy of the D&D Basic Set. This was at a time when the D&D game was published under a couple of different rules/brands. The short of it is that Basic D&D (and its follow up companion, Expert D&D), is that it was simpler than the regular game (called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons), although it they shared core mechanics. The biggest thing that comes to mind is that it combined race and class into one class. All dwarves would probably translate into dwarven fighters in AD&D; elves would be like elven fighter/magic-users (ie. wizards); halflings were like halfling thieves or maybe fighter/thieves. Fighters, clerics, and magic-users were all human.

It was a major epiphany for me to play this game - it was like nothing else. No board, no pieces - just paper, pencils, and maps (that you might not be able to look at). You played a character in a fantasy setting - which was already kind of out there for me. I hadn't really read any fantasy at that time, and about all I could relate it to was The Hobbit animated film I had seen around Thanksgiving back in 1977. 

Speaking of art - dig that picture on the box cover to the Basic D&D Set, which included a rulebook and The Keep on the Borderlands adventure module. That's Erol Otus - one of the signature artists that defined the look of the game in the late 70s/early 80s.

The game itself sometimes had a pulp fantasy feel to it (at least what I recognize as such in hindsight) - and it felt great. Time to pick up some dice soon, and kick off some new campaigns and revisit some old ones. 

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