Friday, 27 July 2018
Happy Birthday Gary Gygax
Today is Gary Gygax's birthday, and I usually think about how far I've come in my tabletop roleplaying since I first got involved in the hobby in 1983 when I cracked open a copy of the Fighting Fantasy book 'The Citadel of Chaos' before moving on to the red box Basic D&D.
I like to think I've come quite far, from muddling through the game with little instruction to where I am today. These days my hobby is an amalgamation of all the gaming I've done over the decades, from my initial wonder and confusion to the constant battling to my first ever proper emotional involvement in a character.
So Happy Birthday, Gary.
This year I've been thinking about how much I rely on the dice during a game and it reminded me of some amazing virtually diceless sessions over the years. For example, A while ago my gaming group settled back into a Basic D&D Greyhawk game, the first session of a new year, with a mind to play it for the next few months. The sessions we'd been playing since the previous year have been primarily dice-based, and we've had some fun with a couple of dungeons and a whack of wilderness encounters.
All that changed with the last session. Throughout the entire two hour game there were only two rolls made, one to see what the weather was like and one Charisma check. The rest of the game was rest and recuperation from the adventuring, meeting new NPCs and catching up with NPCs we already new to see what other missions could be done, and impressing the Lord of the estate. It was an evening of roleplaying.
I stepped up and did my part. I love roleplaying, actually playing a character and acting out a role, carefully weighing what to say and do and then acting how I see fit or how best suits the plot of the adventure. That's what roleplaying games are all about to me; if I just spent the evening rolling combat then as far as I'm concerned it's just a boardgame.
Most of my best gaming evenings have been about the roleplaying. Yes, I've had plenty of exciting combats and I remember the cool times but the dramatic, character driven moments are what stick in my mind. I don't ever remember doing much of that with basic D&D - although, to be fair, I was in my early teens when I started playing so smacking stuff in the face with a sword was as cool as it got - and it was a great feeling to know that I could get that level of character involvement out of the game. It's like my 1980s teenage 'kill 'em all!' self has joined with my 1990s 'what is my motivation?' personality. I like it.
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