Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I busted out the old 2nd Ed hardbacks one night in college; talkin' 1999 or early 2000, here.  I was running the game for some pals in the dorm, plus a girl from my Broadcasting classes (Megan Grady, where are you, baby?).  I fell back into the rules pretty quickly, which was, at the time, a bad thing.

The rules felt clunky; I can't tell you how, but something felt wrong, even though it was all familiar.  I started to feel the way I felt when I dropped the game ("like a greasy fingernail taco", as I used to say) in the first place.  More than once that night, I hanged my head and shook it and muttered, "I can't wait until Third Edition comes out."

Then Third Edition did come out, and I loved it, and I was the first person at my FLGS to buy a copy at the midnight release party, and I loved the new game and I playes it and played it and then got sick of it and screw that noise.

Only, now and then I pull those old 2nd Ed rules offa the shelf, 'cause unlike the 3rd Edition stuff, it's all still in my house, and I crack them open and I get to looking at them and I go, "Huh".



...and all those feelings of crusty old dislike start to flake away, and my stance towards the old tomes softens; I start to see things in there which I always knew were there, but I see them now in a different light.

It's almost as if--


2nd Edition was virtually my introduction to D&D (it was not my first RPG; that honor belongs to Star Wars).  I had a copy of the Red Box, but as far as I was concerned, that was just as a preview of The Real Deal.  I got in on the ground floor on it, too, as this preview booklet came home with me from the comics shop on the day I decided to take the plunge.*  Once I got the PHB and the DMG for Christmas, I spent the next few weeks absolutely devouring them, ferreting out every rule, studying every procedure and absorbing, absorbing, absorbing.

Not all of it made sense--minute-long combat rounds, what?!-but all of it made magic.  I got ready, and I made it happen.

Eventually the magic wore off and I picked up Rolemaster 2nd instead, and then years passed and hi, I'm Dr Rotwang! and this is my blog. 

So it's easy (in fact, too easy) to dismiss my increasing 2nd Ed jones as mere nostalgia, rose-colored glasses.  But look, man, I don't roll that way.  I see its warts and all.  I see the good and the bad, and now and again I run into a blog post that serves to remind me of what I'm looking at (and thanks for that, Mike Hensley).  Now I am ready for real.

Before I started running AD&D, a schoolmate and gaming buddy cautioned me that it was a difficult system to run, and that I would have quite a challenge in front of me, and that he knew all this from experience.  I saw through him; he was blowin' me smoke to aggrandize himself, and possibly to intimidate me.  In a sense, though, he was right--but not for the reasons that he wanted me to believe. 

Don't ask me how...

...but I understand this game now.

And I want to run it again.

*I used to go to Waldenbooks and gawk at the games section, and the AD&D books always looked so...I dunno, so advanced.  The sight of those austere orange spines stood like a fence behind which only the mighty could stand.  Those orange spines were The Guardians of The Big Time, and I wasn't ready.