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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Paul Czege on January 31, 2003, 06:56:12 AM



Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Paul Czege on January 31, 2003, 06:56:12 AM
Hey Rob,

...if discussion moves to the impact of Dragonlance, Unearthed Arcana, and other late 1980s books on AD&D, I will jump in with abandon.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. And it certainly seems entirely pertinent to the thread.

Paul


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 31, 2003, 07:28:50 AM
Hello,

This is a daughter thread from Dungeons & Dragons role-playing history - help wanted (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4983). Its topic is the transformation of the D&D culture (commercial, social, procedural) during 1981-1985 or so, up to and including the publication of AD&D2.

Important publications would seem to include:
- Oriental Adventures
- Unearthed Arcana
- Dragonlance

... although I'm certain that a perusal of Dragon Magazine during this time and an eye toward (a) RuneQuest and (b) pre-GURPS rumblings (Champions especially) would be valuable as well.

So far, to recap, people are apparently agreeing that before this time, Dungeons & Dragons role-playing was:

1) Extremely local in procedure, both regionally and among individual groups. Speaking for myself, I recall very clearly that the full range of GNS and its internal diversity could be found across play on the Monterey Peninsula alone.

2) Based on a hodgepodge of many, many texts which in retrospect seem to me to be almost archeological in their fragmentary, semi-compatible but not-quite, layered-in-time-of-publication nature. I can't overemphasize that, although newly-available texts obviously modified local oral traditions, they also arose from them, generating a seething hotbed of how-to-play in print.

We haven't discussed the publishing history of TSR very much (M. J. contributed a bit), which my own research informs me is quite ugly and depressing; the TSR/Arneson split is barely the beginning. I'd prefer to stay off this topic for this thread.

Paul and Rod, if you could help generate some specific goals for discussing how this situation changed, that would be very helpful.

Best,
Ron

P.S. I had posted a whole bunch to this, then hit a heretofore-unknown Bad Key and it vanished! My fault, all my fault ... (sobbing, logging off)


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on January 31, 2003, 12:00:22 PM
Guidelines for discussion? Hmm. Well, if we want to talk about how and when something changed, we must first agree that it did. I think it’s pretty evident that, based on the published materials, anyway, D&D role-playing in, say, 1988, was not :

Quote
1) Extremely local in procedure, both regionally and among individual groups. ...

2) Based on a hodgepodge of many, many texts which in retrospect seem to me to be almost archeological in their fragmentary, semi-compatible but not-quite, layered-in-time-of-publication nature ...


So, one goal of this thread can be articulating how D&D role-playing in 1987 or so was different from the situation Ron describes above. (Of course others may disagree that it did change - that's a fair position too.) Another goal can be articulating when and how it got that way: highlighting key shifts, innovations, publications. A third goal would be, in the process, to maybe say something about the general means and mechanisms of how a game and the culture around it can change over time.

What effect does a series of modules like Dragonlance have on the way people play the game? How about an article in Dragon magazine on the ecology of the gelatinous cube? And, if the game in question is a big popular game like AD&D, what kind of ripple effects do these changes have on the hobby in general?

Rob


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Walt Freitag on January 31, 2003, 12:27:31 PM
One interesting question appears to be, to what extent did individual players ever actually change their play to conform to the more thoroughly explained and standardized new versions? In other words, the prevailing style of play might have changed, but did individuals change or were they replaced or overshadowed by new players entering the hobby with the new style?

I ask this because several correspondents in the D&D history thread, including me, report migrating to other systems and/or no longer paying attention to the published D&D/AD&D rule systems at just about the time when the change was apparently taking place.

- Walt


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on January 31, 2003, 12:51:26 PM
That is interesting. Walt (and anyone else who abandoned AD&D or stopped buying new books at this time), would you say that you were "pushed" out of AD&D by changes in the game's direction, or were you drifting / growing away from the game anyway regardless?


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on January 31, 2003, 12:56:43 PM
That is interesting. Walt (and anyone else who abandoned AD&D or stopped buying new books at this time), would you say that you were "pushed" out of AD&D by changes in the game's direction, or were you drifting / growing away from the game anyway regardless?


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 31, 2003, 01:00:20 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
One interesting question appears to be, to what extent did individual players ever actually change their play to conform to the more thoroughly explained and standardized new versions? In other words, the prevailing style of play might have changed, but did individuals change or were they replaced or overshadowed by new players entering the hobby with the new style?

Interesting question, although I would hazzard to guess that it is the latter. Many individuals had to figure out exactly how to play on their own and this led to the initial "boom" of other RPGs, Tunnels & Trolls and Runequest/BRP being among the notables that were actually published. As time went on, the exact "hows" of playing, especially D&D, was expanded upon and clairified, so people new to the hobby didn't have to make it up themselves, but could simply follow the instructions given, such as they were.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 31, 2003, 01:48:27 PM
Hi Rob,

I too would say that I was pretty much off D&D of any stripe by 1980. I recall picking up the books in 1983 again and making a few characters, and realizing that anything I found interesting about them had to be interjected.

The Fantasy Trip had already captured my imagination with its customizable characters, and especially with In The Labyrinth, which provided the first point-allocation skill/feature system if I'm not mistaken. I know of several groups which Drifted the essentially Gamist microgames and its more incoherent bigger version into very hard-core Narrativist play.

I also was reading RuneQuest to pieces and staring in shock at Tunnels & Trolls, which appeared to me at the time as nearly psychotic but I now realize was simply D&D stripped down and honed in a different direction from my preferences.

But yeah, AD&D had proven to be frustrating because of my knowledge of myths, legends, highbrow fantasy fiction, and pulp fantasy fiction. The more one thrilled to Gollum and Sam, Conan, and Cugel, the more pastiche and strange D&D became.

All of these reactions occurred long before Dragonlance, even.

Here's my question: what about cons? When did the first GenCon appear, and when did organizations and meetings of role-playing take on a more company-driven, rather than local-fan-driven, character?

Best,
Ron


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Paul Czege on January 31, 2003, 02:10:54 PM
Hey Rob,

Walt (and anyone else who abandoned AD&D or stopped buying new books at this time), would you say that you were "pushed" out of AD&D by changes in the game's direction, or were you drifting/growing away from the game anyway regardless?

I was pushed out...there's no doubt in my mind. The publication of the Dragonlance modules marks the end of a prolific and extended stint as DM for me. Other players seized upon those modules and began DMing at that point, and I drifted dramatically into a marginal role in relation to the group. I railed against Dragonlance from the get go. I skipped game sessions without knowing why; I thought I just hated the game world. It only makes sense to me in retrospect. As soon as metaplot and scripted-events were the "right way" to run games, I couldn't figure out how to have fun anymore, either as a player or as a GM. So for the next ten years I bought games (other than AD&D), read games, talked an awful lot about games, but hardly ever played. Dragonlance changed AD&D. And in fact it changed the whole freakin' hobby...so profoundly that we're still reeling from the impact twenty years later.

It changed the way gamers understood the nature of game scenarios. I'm unaware of any metaplot-driven AD&D scenario published prior to Dragonlance. In every single module published by TSR prior to Dragonlance, the characters were basically the center of the universe. And for all practical purposes, their actions were what the world reacted to. But Dragonlance was the opposite of that. It was a plot that dragged the players along for the ride.

It was a massive publishing initiative that had the effect of unconsciously educating gamemasters that this is how a campaign is supposed to be done. This, in my mind, is the shift Ron described in the other thread; no longer were game publications an "expression and reflection" of what gamers at large were doing.

And for the twenty years since, this tradition of achieving story has been passed on from gamer to gamer, and from game publisher to gamer. Dragonlance became the way we did things. Even when we weren't playing Dragonlance, we emulated the structure. We created plots and pushed the players from event to event. Dragonlance was the template from which future campaigns were made. And it was the template from which future companies were made. I can't say I've ever played a scenario of Vampire or Werewolf that that hasn't featured significant events that were entirely pre-plotted by the GM or the published materials he was using. And what was a series of modules to TSR became a series of core books to White Wolf.

Paul


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Walt Freitag on January 31, 2003, 03:37:40 PM
In my case it was a little of both, drifting away and being pushed.

From the start I had a very different reaction to the fragmentary semi-compatible nature of the early game texts. Where Rob MacDougall reports (in a fascinating post on the D&D History thread) making a lot of effort to figure out how to play right, I interpreted the omissions and contradictions as meaning, "There's no actual design here. These people are just making up what they need as they go along, and telling us about it later. And hey, I can do that too."

That set the stage for a rather cavalier attitude about the printed rules, for me and for all the role playing gamers I knew. When the forewords in the AD&D hardcovers and editorials in Dragon ranted about how important it was to play the game as written, it seemed so out of touch with reality as to be not just irrelevant but incomprehensible. (Others must have noticed this too, because Hackmaster has been parodying them, 20-some years later.) This attitude was also, I believe, the first pre-dawn rays of "system doesn't matter."

This made it easier to drift away, because the system had seemed a moving target to begin with. But there was another factor too: in the first two years I GMed, I was discovering ways to play that required less preparation and produced better results for my players. Flexible approaches a whole lot like what Fang recently described here. (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=49897) I was waiting for publishers (and not just TSR) to figure this out and support it. And instead, every article and every update was more and more emphasizing the opposite. By the time Dragonlance came out I was no longer playing even my own homebrew version, but even so I noticed how outright counterproductive the metaplot material seemed.

I should mention one other factor, which didn't affect me directly but must have had an influence on the course of events. When I first heard about D&D around 1977, it was a college phenomenon. I started playing a year or so later as a high school junior with GMs who learned the game from older siblings in college. By the early 80s D&D was generally considered middle-school (early teens) juvenalia. (E.T. in 1982 shows the younger kids playing D&D; at the time, this was still a cool and slightly precocious thing for kids that age to be doing.) Not long after that, some people were defending D&D against critics by pointing out that for some kids the game was motivation for learning to read. (In the first Foxtrot cartoons featuring D&D, Peter, the teen older brother, was the GM. This didn't last long.) TSR could not have been unaware of this shift in at least a portion of their market, and I've wondered whether and how this might have affected these developments.

- Walt


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 31, 2003, 03:50:20 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
The Fantasy Trip had already captured my imagination with its customizable characters, and especially with In The Labyrinth, which provided the first point-allocation skill/feature system if I'm not mistaken.

Interesting you should mention this, Ron, since my friend has been enamoured with this for years. His girlfriend used to be hard-core 1st ed AD&D until he eventually convinced her of the "power" of a point based skill system, such as it is.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 31, 2003, 03:57:06 PM
Good point, Walt, regarding the age issue!

As a 13-14 year old in 1977-79, and through age roughly-16 of battering my head against (A)D&D, I played with two groups:

1) Mainly older people with a sprinkling of teens who tried to do adult things as much as possible. The adults were usually army guys, with some hip types who ran kids' groups or community-course programs. The latter ran some really damn good games, as I recall.

2) Fellow teens - these get-togethers were often the least satisfying, on the one hand due to people who had "special" rules that no one else did (brrrr ... what one guy armed with an Arduin Grimoire can do to a Social Contract ...), and on the other because of the perfectly reasonable assessment by many that the rules/game really wasn't all that fun.

I knew of many college groups during this time, up through the early 80s, mainly playing RuneQuest. I burned with jealousy and reeeally wanted to be in college and to play with folks like that.

Oh yeah. I am failing to mention the significant presence of women in their late twenties who were interested in role-playing and not at all concerned about the propriety of hanging out with boys ten years younger. This was the late 1970s, after all. I remember quite a few such individuals.

By 1983, after I'd pretty much decided never to play AD&D again (wrongly, as I played Basic later as a mentor), I'd realized that it had become a "pube" activity, meaning 10-13-year-olds exclusively, most of whom played once and walked. It had lost its cool factor entirely, just in time for me to go to college in the fall of that year and swear off the hobby. The aforementioned Female Factor seemed suspiciously absent as well.

After that, I found a lot of people to role-play with, but always on the basis that we "weren't like those gamer guys." We played Champions and Stormbringer, and looked forward to the buzz of GURPS.

Best,
Ron


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 31, 2003, 04:18:55 PM
My experience plays RIGHT into where (I think) Ron is going with his "tournament culture" comments.  I went out to GenCon at UW/Parkside in 1979 or 80, and I remember a wide variety of play - we did an In Character puzzle-solving adventure where fantasy types run into a "wizard" with a computer and stuff (an early version of the RoleAids "Fez" stuff?), some real wargaming, some D&D combat dungeon adventures . . . a variety of stuff, though I'm not sure how much was "events" and how much was just pick-up play.

By the time the next summer (or two) rolled around, we (three of us, this time) joined the RPGA and headed for GenCon East in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (we could drive there from CT).  We were in the RPGA tournament, and after all the preliminaries were done - it's off to the dungeon.  We go down the stairs, and one of my friends is playing the thief, and says something like "I lead them down the hall, checking for traps as we go."  The GM (name available on request) said something like "where do you look first?", rolled some dice, then "where do you look next?", rolled dice, "where next?", dice, etc.  He was REALLY moving slow, and the tournament was partly scored on how much of the dungeon you got through . . .

We plunged onward, triggered some trap, were attacked, and my PC ended up paralyzed (within, oh, 20 mins).  I stayed that way for the rest of the game.

I decided that whatever these RPGA folks were doing, it wasn't gaming the way I'd ever seen it (or at least it was a really extreme version of anything I'd ever seen) - and when the list of who "qualified" to make it into the next round were posted, no one was more surprised than I to discover I was one of the few from our group to make it!  I guess sitting on my hands and struggling not to comment on anything that was happening in the game counted as "roleplaying" my character well - or something.  Anyway, I never showed up, but whoever took my place must have done pretty well, because my name was listed in the "top ten" or so RPGA rankings after that first tournament.  "I" won a year or two extension of my membership and the poor-copy quality ver of the module (Hydell?  Slave Pits? ).  I think I spent the rest of the convention playing wargames, some Melee/Wizard/Ogre games, and etc.  That may have been where I dug out my Monsters! Monsters! arena notes and had a ton of fun playing "Arena Master" for a bunch of strangers . . . but in any case, I found fun and interesting things that had nothing to do with the RPGA.

Out of high school, off to college (and out, and off again, and out - but that's a different story), and I remained interested in RPGs, bought a number of 'em, but not really D&D.  For me, the RPGA is what drove me away - probably unfair, based on one bad experience, but there you have it.  I also couldn't find a gaming group with people I could stand to hang around with for a long time after high school - not until I moved to CA, actually.  I'd occasionally meet one guy (always guys - what happened to all the girls who played in high school?) who seemed to think the way I did, and we'd noodle around with rules and world-creation, but two wasn't "enough" for an actual campaign . . .

I remember being intrigued at the idea of the Dragonlance modules - I bought the first one - but I never met anyone I felt comfortable trying it out with.  Unearthed Arcana was the last book I bought - not because it was the "last good thing", or that it changed things/offended me, but because by then what little RPG play I did wasn't D&D anymore.

The very particular, Gamist(?), "we need to be able to judge everyone fairly" RPGA tournament style wasn't for me, and (at least in part irrationally), I thought that was what everyone doing D&D would be striving for now.

Gordon

EDIT in some age stuff based on what Walt and Ron have said - I'm about Ron's age (born December 1963), and I always played with peers - no more than a few years variance, in junior high or high school.  A little broader range after '81 or so, especially as my eventually part-time-only college coursework left me a bit older than most classmates.  It's a bit puzzling - the RPGA tournament stuff I reference seems entirely incompatible with a shift to a younger audience in the early 80's - but maybe TSR had (or tried to have) a two market strategy at the time.  AD&D and tournamnents for the college crew, and Basic D&D cartoon-recreation for the younger folk.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: M. J. Young on January 31, 2003, 08:15:28 PM
O.K., I'm different.


I did not abandon OAD&D during this time; although we played a few other games, we were still isolated and so very much unaware of the wealth of non-TSR games out there. We started a game of Traveler just before we lost a group, and although I'd see a few others in the book store (a Dr. Who game, I vaguely recall) they always struck me as copycats trying to horn in on the TSR/D&D success. But then, I didn't have the kinds of problems with the game everyone else here seems to have had. We enjoyed it.

For the numbers, I was born in '55, and only know a few gamers older. I started play in '80, when I was out of college, married, and working in ministry, so a lot of the stuff that seems to be normative for gamers is completely foreign to me--no high school or college game sessions, no sexual tensions at gaming sessions, stuff like that.

I didn't notice any impact from Dragonlance; but I never got any Dragonlance modules or novels, only the rulebook, and even that didn't mean a new campaign but only expanded options for the existing one.

Indeed, as each book found its way into my library (a slow process, as radio broadcasters are paid in prestige, and book stores don't accept that coin) it did change the game; but it had more impact on the game world than on play. Arcana had significant impact, as mentioned on the other thread, because of the creation of the Cavalier class, which suddenly demoted our fighters from being Knights to being something less. Oriental Adventures added an impressive array of options.

In an odd quirk, the Oriental Adventures became very important in our play because, I think, of me. E. R. Jones invited me to play in his game, and I (mistakenly) thought I would be bringing in a first level character to play with experienced characters of higher level. I put a lot of thought into trying to choose a character concept that would make sense joining such a group. He had a race, drawn from one of the magazines, called Winged Folk, and I thought that there would be some sense in them having a new party member who could scout because he could fly. I needed a character class that would work with this, and the Kensai had a lot of appeal because they were strong fighters without armor, so I went with it. As previously implied, I was wrong in my assumptions--Jones was starting a new party in an existing gameworld. My character still worked well in that situation. However, there was a rash of kensais in my game, as apparently my young players thought that the first D&D character I ever played (I was only ever a referee from 1980 until then, about 1991 or 92) must be the best choice. This then resulted in exploration of the other Oriental options. by contrast, Dragonlance had little impact--we had a couple of DL characters very late in the life of my early 90's games, but social contract problems of a very severe nature had crippled the gaming group by then.

We had been looking forward to a second edition of the game. I, at least, had envisioned (and articulated that vision) a reorganization that would mean single, if larger, DMG and PH incorporating much of the material that was at that point scattered among the other books. The second edition that actually did come out was a shocking disappointment, a rewrite of the game that attempted to fix things we didn't think were broken and eliminated things we thought were core to the game. TSR's new marketing program rapidly became apparent as well, and since scraping together the funds to buy the thirteen hard-cover books over a decade had been difficult, I was not about to commit to a new game that was going to cost hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours every year merely to stay current on the rules. I continued to run and play OAD&D, but AD&D2 pushed me out of the D&D customer base--I never bought another new TSR product.

I don't know if that helps the inquiry, but that was my experience.

--M. J. Young


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on January 31, 2003, 09:08:47 PM
So am I the only one who stayed with AD&D long enough to actually play the Dragonlance series? I guess I’d better report my experiences.

I too was skeptical about buying the first Dragonlance modules for all the reasons people have offered here. I didn’t know the word “metaplot,” but I understood the objection. I already had my own homemade D&D world. Why should I run these adventures with premade characters, in a world without clerics or halflings or gold pieces? I was won over, in the end, by just how damn pretty the adventures were: the Elmore covers and those great “three-quarter” view dungeon maps and portraits of the PCs and all that.

(There’s a subpoint to be made here about the generally improving production values of D&D and RPGs in this period: nice art and high production values were often the sugar that made the medicine of a railroading adventure or an un-asked for rules supplement go down.)

(There’s another subpoint to be made here about how the ever present art of Larry Elmore and Jeff? Easley and Clyde Caldwell codified or standardized the look of a lot of D&D elements in these years. It seems to me that both the Heavy Metal / Boris Vallejo / glistening barbarians / naked valkyries on polar bears stuff, and also the semi-psychedelic hippy Tolkien stuff with mushroom houses and Gandalf puffing on the halfling’s leaf dropped out in the 1980s in favor of Elmore and Easley’s “realistic” (and more family friendly) Norman-Rockwell-in-Krynn style of art. Now, looking back at my oldest D&D books, I’m blown away by the bizarre wands and clothes and headgear in the old Erol Otis illustrations. There’s really nothing Tolkienesque or pseudo-medieval about them.)

Anyway, I tried at first to just steal the dungeons from each Dragonlance adventure and play them in my own world with our existing characters and absolutely no attention to the metaplot. This got harder to do with each adventure. When I started high school in 1985, my junior high group (four girls and two boys, for those keeping track of the exodus of females from the hobby) broke up. We’d played the first four DL adventures by then. In high school I gathered a new group, and one of the first things we started playing was Dragonlance, played in Krynn this time, with the pregenerated characters, and hewing closely to the metaplot. We ended up playing the entire series, DL1 through DL14.

I won’t say Paul and other people with strong feelings about Dragonlance are wrong. It certainly was a different style of adventure, and running the whole series trained both DM and players thoroughly in all the techniques and expectations of railroading and illusionism. I do have another contender for the first metaplot-driven AD&D scenarios, but I’ll get to them later.

But there’s railroading and then there’s railroading. How most of the earlier Dragonlance modules were set up was this:
- a highly scripted beginning with lots of read aloud boxed text
- a very large and entirely un-scripted dungeon crawl (a sunken city in DL1, a fortress in DL2, a lich’s tomb in DL3...)
- a highly scripted ending with more boxed text

If your PCs were of generally good alignment, interested in exploring dungeons, killing monsters, and collecting magic items, then the great bulk of each early Dragonlance adventure could be run without taking away any player autonomy. They were herded into the dungeon, sure, and herded once they got back out again, but inside there was no one path to victory and plenty of real estate to explore that was not covered in the novels.

The only person who really had to gave up their freedom to play Dragonlance was the DM. The DMs traditional world-building and story-arc shaping powers were absolutely circumscribed. This is, I would argue, a different kind of railroading than what I associate with the White Wolf games in the 1990s, where the GM is highly invested in a series of events and herds the PCs around to witness them. In the early Dragonlance adventures, 90% of the herding took place “between” adventures.

This changed in the later Dragonlance adventures. The key turning point seemed to be when the publication of the novels “overtook” the publication of the adventures. In other words, the first DL adventures (DL 1 through 4) came out before the first DL novel (Dragons of Autumn Twilight), and indeed there were events in the first novel drawn directly from the actual play of the TSR team creating Dragonlance. But the second and third DL novels were written before the equivalent adventures (DL 6-9 and DL 10-14), and while this likely made for better novels, the adventures became increasingly scripted. This was especially true in the middle adventures, DL 6-9, with the culmination being DL 8 and DL 9, where the standard wilderness and city maps were replaced with flowcharts of required events. For some reason player freedom opened up again in the last few adventures, which even went “off the script” of the novels in some fairly significant ways.

Proposition for discussion (possibly a separate thread): the general disappearance of detailed dungeon maps from adventures, which seemed at the time to be a move away from hoary old “wargaming” towards narrative “story creation,” actually represented a  huge shift in decision-making power from the players to the GM.

Whew. Sorry about the length of that post. Obviously I’ve got lots to say about Dragonlance. Hope that wasn’t a thread-killer.

Rob


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on January 31, 2003, 09:25:31 PM
Oh, one other thing:

Quote from: Paul Czege
In every single module published by TSR prior to Dragonlance, the characters were basically the center of the universe. And for all practical purposes, their actions were what the world reacted to. But Dragonlance was the opposite of that. It was a plot that dragged the players along for the ride.


(This relates to the recent discussion of PC-centered worlds in the Failings of Sci-Fi thread too.)

In many ways, yes, the Dragonlance plot "dragged the players along for the ride". On the other hand, the world of Dragonlance was definitely reacting to their actions. A party that successfully completed all the Dragonlance modules "on script" would have: rediscovered the true gods, bringing clerical magic back into the world, free a nation of slaves, saved umpteen cities, gotten the squabbling races of good to join forces, found and returned good dragons to Krynn, risen to command the armies of good and saved the world from the Queen of Darkness. They'll also have become the most famous and powerful heroes on their planet.

I'd argue it's because so much did hinge on their actions that the DL adventures were so scripted. If your PCs went off the beaten path in Keep on the Borderlands or White Plume Mountain, it didn't threaten or alter the game world in any significant way. If two of your PCs turned evil halfway through the Dragonlance saga (which two of mine did), that had serious repurcussions on the rest of the world.

Again, I suspect this is different from the standard Vampire adventure, in which the PCs are really insulated from affecting the world in any important way by a lot of more powerful NPCs. And I think the kind of railroading the DL adventures exemplified was often more GM-controlling than player-controlling.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on January 31, 2003, 09:48:51 PM
Hi Rob,

It won't die simply because I wanted to thank you for your post.  I never touched the DL modules (I never touched a module, really), so your summary helped me understand the context of this thread.

Also, your comments on the shift in art were really interesting.  Not only because I think you nailed correctly TSR's success in this strategy, but it reminded me how much I didn't like the "Rockwell" fantasy art.  Thus, another reason not to look back at AD&D.

A note that ties into this thread: Over at RPG.net a thread called, "Why is D&D so Hellishly Popular" ( http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=30154 ) has drawn the attention of a poster named Abaryx (sp?).  He played, and plays, AD&D exactly as written.  On a board full of people who read all those threads, no one has yet arrived to say, "Yeah, we did that too."  It seems that though folks like Rob and the Big A did cleave to the rules as written, it really was an exception.

And, I have to add, it's really rather awesome to read A's breakdown of a AD&D combat round.  He's black belt of a school with maybe ten members, but damn, he knows his stuff.

Christopher


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Maurice Forrester on February 01, 2003, 04:55:55 AM
Quote from: Rob MacDougall

would you say that you were "pushed" out of AD&D by changes in the game's direction, or were you drifting / growing away from the game anyway regardless?


In my case, I was definitely drifting away.  I had discovered D&D in 1978 and gamed with a group that had been playing for a few years.  In fact, I remember one guy telling me that even though they were using the AD&D Players Handbook, we were actually playing original D&D.  I still don't know what that meant.

I started buying other games right away.  And, of course, tried to right my own rules.  By 1982, I was the primary GM.  Although I kept buying new games, I had settled on a couple of favorites:  "Swordbearer" by Dennis Sustare for fantasy and BRP for everything else.  I bought "Unearthed Arcana" when it came out to see where AD&D was going, but I never actually used it in a game and I didn't buy a new D&D book until 3rd edition.

The group I started playing with was around my age or a bit older (I'm 42, born in 1959) and they were all experienced wargamers.  The group expanded in the early 80s to add some high school students and a few of the wargamers drifted away.  By the time I became the primary GM, I had stopped playing with the younger guys and settled on a core group of a couple of the old guard and a couple of new people who were around my age.  I'm sure that limited my exposure to what was happening in the AD&D world, since the players were happy to play pretty much whatever I ran.  

I kept up with what was happening in the gaming world through stuff like "Different Worlds" and A&E, but I didn't have much direct contact with anyone outside my small group of gamers in a small town in Pennsylvania.  I have the impression that a lot of gaming groups were isolated in that way and maybe still are.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 01, 2003, 08:04:09 AM
Quote from: Rob MacDougall
Hope that wasn’t a thread-killer.

If that wasn't this may be:
I, personally, had never, ever played AD&D in my entire life. I had gotten a red box @ 1983. I had played a little bit then but I never played in a regular session until 1994. The group I joined at that point had already bought into the TSR backlash that had been around at that time, and I bought into the group mind for a while. I guess this makes me something of a late bloomer. I'm not sure where this fits in with all of this, but if it does, here it is.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: clehrich on February 01, 2003, 01:47:48 PM
I'm not sure whether this goes in this thread or the parent, but I think it goes here.  This is very anecdotal; my point is to provide a perspective on what gaming looked like if you (1) started with OAD&D, (2) were about 9 at the time, and (3) had no access to established gaming groups; the oral culture in question was other 9 and 10 year-olds, and not many of them, and was bolstered by intensive reading of the manuals themselves.

I'm a bit younger than most who have posted (born 1970), so when I first heard of D&D, it was just when OAD&D had just hit the shelves.  I got it (MM, PH, DMG) because a couple of friends had it, and thought it was cool.  I never actually played with them much, though, because they decided it wasn't cool within about two months.  Meanwhile, my brother had also heard it was cool.

As children in the 'burbs, my brother and I lacked access to the gaming culture; it would never have occurred to us to ask Mom if we could go to Origins or something like that.  We acquired the odd Dragon Magazine here and there, but couldn't subscribe.  My brother and I played pretty regularly, where I would play five or six characters (we knew you were supposed to have a "party") and he would DM.  When my brother decided (around age 14 or so (he's two years older than me)) that D&D was stupid, I was left to do this all alone.  The last time my brother gave it a shot, he'd heard that the "right" way to play was with miniatures, so he bought some.  He'd also heard that you had to paint them, which he did, badly.  I still have them somewhere.

As far as I understood it, and this was also my brother's understanding, there were three kinds of D&D, in a graduated series of "rightness."

1. Playing at home, maybe with a friend or two, and "running through" modules.  This was kids' D&D.  You could design new characters for this purpose; for example, if you had just acquired a module for levels 5-7, you could roll up a group of level 5 characters.  You usually played more than one character at a time, because otherwise you'd just get murdered by the module.  We recognized that this practice was a bow to necessity, and not quite kosher.

2. Playing in a local group.  The players here were presumed to be approximately late teens through, say, mid-twenties.  You were supposed to stick to one character, who had to start at level 1, and the object of the game was to have that character be the most powerful and get all the magic items.  If you joined the group late, you were shafted, because you'd have to play the Illusionist or some other wimpy-ass class.  I very briefly had contact with such a group, not seriously hoping I could join (I was only 12) but wanting to be a hanger-on.  My clear memory of this encounter was that I sat on the sidelines, then when things got boring started re-reading my own copy of the DMG; at that point one player whirled around and said, "You can't read that!  It's DM's only!  God, you're stupid!"  So I also learned that this type of gaming made all manuals except the Player's Handbook secret, which I hadn't ever known before.  I decided I'd better work on being a DM, since I'd read more or less everything.

3. "Real D&D," i.e. conventions and tournaments.  I never saw this, but I read about it in the Dragon and so forth.  I had no idea how this worked, apart from a couple of "tournament" modules.

I stopped buying the books when I was about 16, because everyone I knew told me that D&D was something only geeks and nerds did.

In all this time, reading, playing, whatever, the following things did not EVER come across my field of vision:

1. Playing a character as a person, particularly the idea of immersion.
2. Characters being "for" anything except getting stuff through killing monsters.
3. Other options in gaming, except for Boot Hill and Top Secret.  I believed that these were just D&D in different clothes, and so read Top Secret as mainly about agents machine-gunning other agents.
4. Dungeons, worlds, towns, etc. as having internal logic related to the real world.  For example, it never occurred to me to ask why all these monsters stayed in the rooms they were assigned to.

Hope this is in some vague way useful.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: clehrich on February 01, 2003, 02:21:18 PM
Er, sorry.  Couple other brief (I promise!) points.

In my numerous very brief encounters with people who actually played AD&D in groups, and from the general sense of the oral culture that I had (this is up until I was about 16):

1. I never, ever encountered a female player.  I never heard of one.  Even when I was 9 (1979) I remember that the girls thought D&D was dumb.

2. "Everybody knew" that certain rules weren't actually used by any actual player.  The rules that "nobody actually used" included:
- Spell components
- Alignments actually making any difference to behavior
- Detailed encumbrance
- Level maxima for non-humans
Actually it's been quite fascinating to me recently, to hear that some people actually took alignment seriously.  I thought everybody knew that unless it was strictly forbidden for a character type, you were best off being Neutral Evil, because then you could do anything you wanted and it didn't matter anyway. :)


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 01, 2003, 04:39:39 PM
Hi Chris,

All of your input is really useful, actually. One thing I'd forgotten that I'd wanted to address were the rules that no one used. I agree with all of the ones you identified, as well as the weapon/armor to-hit modifications.

Oh, and just to be absolutely clear to those whose introductory experiences were more mid-80s: the term "thac0" was entirely unknown to this earlier culture, at least as I remember.

Best,
Ron


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on February 01, 2003, 04:53:29 PM
Oh, and just to be absolutely clear to those whose introductory experiences were more mid-80s: the term "thac0" was entirely unknown to this earlier culture, at least as I remember.

Yes. I think the first appearance of THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) was in the adventure module I3. Pharoah. At least that's the first place I saw it. Not a rule as such, just a writing convention, but one that did indeed become a dividing line of sorts between different "generations" of AD&D players.

Chris' comments on alignment inspire another random recollection: the Dragonlance Adventures hardback, published 1988 or so, offered a new system for alignment. It dropped the Law-Chaos axis, moving only to a Good-Evil axis, and it introduced a track on which the players alignments would move, based on their actions. So instead of restricting player behaviour, it simply tracked it. (Although, there were penalties for moving into the gray areas between Good, Neutral, and Evil, but not for actually being Good, Neutral or Evil.) As far as I know, no later AD&D publications ever held onto this or followed up on this system at all.

Rob


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on February 02, 2003, 01:04:37 AM
We used alignment in our group.

And we had a 40-60 split for girls to guys.

Christopher


Title: Rules Ignored
Post by: M. J. Young on February 03, 2003, 12:02:28 AM
I was just about to respond to this last night when the site went down; now I'm not at all sure I remember everything I had in mind to say, but I did want to respond to this:

Quote from: clehrich
2. "Everybody knew" that certain rules weren't actually used by any actual player.  The rules that "nobody actually used" included:
- Spell components
- Alignments actually making any difference to behavior
- Detailed encumbrance
- Level maxima for non-humans

We used all of those. We were a bit weak on spell components sometimes, in the sense that if it wasn't a major item (like a gem or something) the magic users just periodically bought "spell components" and were assumed to have the little garbage (bitumen, whatever). If a component was pricey, it was measured.

I did encumbrance by hand for a long time. I do it on spreadsheets today. I don't keep that tight an eye on it during play (you don't get credited for each arrow you shoot), but every player knows that he can only carry so much treasure out on one trip.

Alignments were vitally important in play. We had many discussions and debates about what was appropriate for a character. I had a neutral good cleric torture and kill three NPCs based on little more than suspicion that they might have been responsible for the attempted murder of a public official. He did not get a confession or any evidence to support his beliefs, but he did get slapped pretty hard for the alignment problem. More than once it was repeated in our group: it is not sufficient for good to oppose evil; it must do so while remaining good.

Non-human level limits were important for play balance because of multiclassing. A dual-classed character, thanks to the exponential progression table, was within one level behind a single-classed character most of the time, and that made the multiclassing option very powerful. Limits on progression were an important counter to prevent these from dominating play.

I played with people who didn't have level limits, and this is one of the things that snapped my disbelief suspenders: if elves, dwarfs, gnomes, and even halflings all live so much longer than humans, why aren't the older elves, particularly, dominating the world? There should be level three hundred fighters and wizards out there in the elf world, and similarly powerful dwarfs and such, merely for the time they have to reach those levels. It's inconsistent to have beings with such longevity and extended youthfulness and yet not have them reach ungodly levels, unless there's some other reason to prevent it. Level limits didn't have a good pseudo-rational explanation, but it balanced the world to favor humans.

Quote from: He further
I thought everybody knew that unless it was strictly forbidden for a character type, you were best off being Neutral Evil, because then you could do anything you wanted and it didn't matter anyway. :)

Not true; neutral evil is a very demanding alignment. You can't be trustworthy and you can't trust, and if I catch you doing either you're in trouble. Evil parties destroy themselves if they're played right. I've seen them played right. Members of one group that played over many years, not ours, independently told me, the closer you get to home, the less anyone sleeps, and the fewer characters are left alive--because in the end, only one of us will get home with the treasure. That your group thought this indicates a failure in refereeing, in my estimation. But then, you were kids, so I guess that's excused. ;)

Quote from: Then Ron
I agree with all of the ones you identified, as well as the weapon/armor to-hit modifications.

I've disagreed with all the others, but this one we never used. I couldn't even really figure out how to use them. I did give them serious consideration once when one player, who knew a heck of a lot more about weaponry than I, said that the long sword versus battle axe damage was inappropriate. The mods didn't solve this (I thought they might give a hit advantage to the axe, but they didn't), so I didn't use them.

I'm given to understand that this is the one rule Gary Gygax didn't use, either.

Quote from: Rob MacDougal
Chris' comments on alignment inspire another random recollection: the Dragonlance Adventures hardback, published 1988 or so, offered a new system for alignment. It dropped the Law-Chaos axis, moving only to a Good-Evil axis, and it introduced a track on which the players alignments would move, based on their actions.

Dragonlance did not eliminate the ethical axis; it did seriously deemphasize it. All the gods and creatures in the book have standard dual-axis alignments. It is stated that the moral axis alignment has to be specified and tracked; it does not explain what happens with the ethical axis alignment, but it doesn't say it's not used.

Neutrality in Krynn is heavily chaotic, however; it is difficult to play lawful neutral in that setting.

This is also the first place I remember seeing in print the use of the term "moral axis" for the good/evil side of alignment; I don't think I ever saw "ethical axis" in print, but it was the phrase people used by the early 90's.

--M. J. Young


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: talysman on February 03, 2003, 12:41:19 AM
ok, I'll add my own information, avoiding as much as possible a mere anecdotal description of "how I played" while concetrating on "game culture" issues and dissemination of play techniques.

I've played D&D several different ways. I fall into the same group as Ron and some of the others (I was born in '63) and in fact was living in Rantoul, Illinois when I was first exposed to D&D, so I guess that puts me in old school north central dungeon-belt territory, but with a twist. I first encountered D&D in about '75, courtesy of a friend who learned to play in junior high. yes, as part of a class. the teacher used the original 3 books, but changed Wisdom to Piety and created a spell-point mechanic for magic-users (MUs had "magical conductivity" points and each spell level had a dice range for how many points it cost to cast.)

the method of play my friend taught me was standard dungeon crawl with an occasional tavern scene/city gate scene/market scene/etc. for color. the twist that I mentioned was that I never saw the d&d books themselves for about two years, but played and DMed based on hand-typed copies of the charts the original teacher had mimeographed. I didn't even have actual monster descriptions, just the list of monster names/treasure types/% in lair (I had some really interesting interpretations of what "staff elementals" were, since all I had to go on was the phrase itself...) no spell descriptions, so range didn't really matter, nor did duration. when I took turns DMing in two-player games with another friend, we just made stuff up based on what we'd been taught and what we could decipher from those charts.

after I moved (to Oklahoma,) I later got the basic D&D (blue dragon) set and eventually the AD&D PHB. I still had a couple of my hand-typed charts that survived the move (I still have the first saving throw table, stuck into the back of a plastic book protector I put on the blue dragon book.) I taught some new people to play D&D, more or less correctly -- blue-dragon D&D expanded with what I could glean from the PHB and my charts. I did use encumberance and spell components, but didn't use armor adjustments by weapon type or weapon speed factors.

another move, this time to a small city near Sacramento... I meet up with someone who had played D&D and Arduin Grimoire. we acquire the 3-book original and the suppliments, but we also pick up the three AD&D books. we're pretty much playing straight AD&D, but I still have a distaste for insane combat detail, so no speed factors/armor adjustments. I think we tried to use the grapple rules from the DMG once. we did use psionics, though. funny how that worked out. we occasionally suppliment AD&D materials with old D&D materials, though.

soon, though, I found TFT, and I mostly DMed that, adding more story elements (but still as color, not as metaplot,) with my friend taking over the AD&D DMing. eventually, I found SJGames Man-to-Man and the boxed GURPS set and moved to that system, plus some attempts at homebrew systems. since I wasn't doing much Gamist stuff at that point, the rest of my game experience wouldn't be useful to the Gamist essay.

to summarize this in a more useful form:

  • I started with a third-hand modified original D&D, very standard dungeon crawl but by necessity pretty free-form with the rules;
  • I progressed to original D&D as written, adding elements from AD&D one at a time, until I was playing AD&D minus a couple rules with high-handling time;
  • I moved first to Gamist play with a lower handling time, then to more Simulationist play.
  • [/list:u]

    I never transitioned into Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms because I mostly interpretted them as being adaptations of the novels TSR was publishing -- and I looked at the books and said to myself "Tolkien rip-off". this might not be true, but it was my impression at the time; the point is, I avoided metaplot entirely, but for non-game-related reasons.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 03, 2003, 10:14:37 PM
Ooh, I like telling this story.

So, there I was, all of, what, eight years old in 1976. I liked games from my earliest memories, and had invented quite a few by that age. My father, at that time a Captain in the Army National Guard (who would later progress to the rank of General), would bring home all sorts of military maps and vehicle identification cards. Inevitably I created a game out of the discarded ones that I would play with my brother who was a year younger and was my constant test subject. My father, noting this, decided to purchase Panzerblitz for me.

Any of you grognards know what that is? It's not the most complicated wargame ever created. But neither is it the simplest. It took all my mental might at eight years old to learn it. I then started hanging out with a friend from school named Jon who was my age, but already at the time was playing games of D-Day on his front porch. We played games like they were going out of style. This same year I read both the Chronicles of Narnia, and, after consuming them in no time, LoTR.

So, when my cousin Tim from California, a couple of years older than me, showed up with a game called Kingmaker that year, I was all over it. Still one of my favorite games (you can catch me at the Cons playing the big painted set). Anyhow, he noted my fondness for such games.

So, on his next trip back to Wisconsin, my brother and I are playing some naval combat game (carrier war?) in which you maneuver little aircraft carriers with little plastic planes on them about a map composed of hexes. Just nothing but blue hexes. Tim sees us playing and says, "You want to play a game called Death Test?" Noting that the uniform hexmap will be perfect.

Three days later, Tim had left, and my life was permenantly changed in a most serious way. I had played my first RPG. As some may recall, a supplement for Melee and Wizard had been put out called Death Test. My cousin Tim had made up a similar scenario for us to play and used the Melee/Wizard rules as he remembered them. Before he left, he also told us that the "real" game to play was called Dungeons and Dragons.

Yes, here I was just 45 minutes from Gygax's house, and I learned to play RPGs from a Californian in 1977.

So, of course, as soon as I could afford it (and lord knows where a nine year old got the money from), I bought a set of Basic (Blue Book) D&D. And tried to figure out how to play with my wargamer friends. Now, it took us a year of playing most every night. But by the end I think we had it mostly sorted out.

But the news was soon on the horizon: an new version called "Advanced" D&D was coming out. Well, I just had to have that. So I went to the store, and bought this white box that looked somewhat less finished than the edition I already owned. I read the books, but, to this day, I have no idea what Blackmoor, Eldrich Wizardry, etc, were about. I realized that I'd bought the wrong thing, and put them in a corner never to be used again.

We finally bought the AD&D books as they came out and played the bejeezus out of that game. Ask Jon if you see him about Arthur Murffles (III) Furbisher (name provided in part by a Judges guild supplement), his ranger character that eventually conquered every published module until 1982.

That year, something happened. I realized two things. First, there were other ways to play D&D than just dungeon crawling hack and slash. And second, TFT (which I picked up as an adjunct to Melee and Wizardry), despite having not nearly the production values, still somehow managed to be a better system. As I used to say, "It actually HAS a combat system, as opposed to D&D which has nothing so rigorous."

Worse, we'd started "fixing" D&D. We had a ton of house rules. I mean a ton. Lots of Dragon articles (my friend Jim was a subscriber from issue 1 and still has his copy in pristine condition; I subscribed from 23 to 115 or so), and just lots of stuff that we thought was common sense, etc, all kept building and building. After about two years of this, I had several stacks of paper in my room all about two feet tall. Literally. One day it dawned on me:

I have more notes than there is text for all D&D products. If I'd been thinking ahead, I could have written my own complete game by now.

What's worse, there was no end in sight. I'm not sure what cosmic force causes this fact to be true, but you can fix AD&D till doomsday and still have more to do. I was disenchanted with play, and realized that D&D was never going to give me what I wanted.

But a horrible thought occured to me. My players would never let me stop GMing as long as I owned the materials, and had the notes.

So, it was a nice October day in 1982 that I took all my D&D materials, and reams of looseleaf with notes on it, piles of quadrille, and anything else I could find, and had a nice little bonfire in my backyard. Didn't burn the Dragons, perhaps because they contained info on other games (like "Food Fight" in iss. 42!). But everything else went. Yes, that includes the white box D&D, and my "illegal" version of Dieties and Demigods. Had I only known they'd be collector items....

Do you suppose that it had anything to do with the fact that I'd fallen in love with the music of Rush, who released their Signals album that year with the song Subdivisions?

Quote
Any escape might help to sooth the unattractive truth,
but the suburbs have no charms to smooth the restless dreams of youth.


My subdivision was called Hyde Park. I bet yours was, too. Hey, what can I say, I was thirteen and had already had a classic midlife existential crisis. Something had to break.

Anyway, I swore I'd never play D&D again in any form. An oath I've broken twice in twenty years. I also swore that I wouldn't let art and production values ever sway my opinion about a game's design.

Sorry this took so long to get to the point. I was out of D&D before second edition was even on the horizon. And it was because of GNS preference, and the fact that even the first games that were produced after D&D improved on it dramatically. TFT, Traveller (which we also played he bejeezus out of), Villains and Vigilantes, even Gamma World (and especially Metamorphosis Alpha) and Top Secret (Boot Hill, OTOH, was even worse than D&D). All before I was fifteen years old. Didn't even have to be wise to know D&D was not what I wanted.

I'm very much of the opinion that the universality of play style that occured in AD&D2 is due to only hardore Gamists hanging on to D&D until that time. Most everyone else was gone by that time. The remainig Gamists taught any newcomers, and the rest is history.

Mike


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Paul Czege on February 11, 2003, 10:52:07 AM
Hey Rob,

Before this thread gets old, I just wanted to say thanks for your great and definitive post about Dragonlance. You made me realize how spotty my own recollections are, and actually prompted me to phone my friend who ran the modules when I played them. Though I recalled the group skipping some modules, and not making a concerted effort to play them in order, he insists he ran the first seven or eight, and in order. So, I'm now trusting your account, rather than my own remembrances. (Look folks, actual mental scarring!) He does acknowledge that I only played through three or four of them, which since you've said the middle ones were the most railroaded, maybe somewhat accounts for why I have them all pretty tightly railroaded in my memory.

I do have another contender for the first metaplot-driven AD&D scenarios, but I'll get to them later.

Did I miss this? Perhaps a new thread?

Paul


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on February 11, 2003, 12:13:04 PM
And as long as we're keeping the thread alive . . .

Thinking about this time-frame in D&D history, I'm wondering if metaplot/Dragonlance exists as a reaction to the Gamist/tournament approach that was begining to take hold?  Like D&D went from early "Wow!  You can do anything!" to "This is too messy - let's do RPGA events and get some control" to "Man, that control thing leaves out a lot of what was so neat about the early days - let's find a way to add it back in.  How about - a scripted series of modules!"

Just a thought I've been meaning to find a place to express,

Gordon


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: arxhon on February 11, 2003, 08:56:24 PM
Hey all,

I fall into the 'secend generation of gamers', i guess. I started playing D&D when i was about 9 (in grade 4), but had heard of it earlier i suppose, since i saw the book at a the library and borrowed it for months on end.

I didn't actually play until about a year or so later, when i moved half way across the country and the next door neighbor kid (a year older) had the 1e set wth the 'new' covers up to MM2. We didn't have any modules, and just made stuff up as we went along. We played like mad, and i continued to play until i was through junior high. I guess you could call the style we played very Gamist, but it was good times. In the last year of junior high we played Star Frontiers, Robotech and Gamma World. This spelled the beginning of the end of D&D.

I GMed pretty much from the second week i ever played a game. Firstly, because i knew the rules better than the others, and later, because i had more experience and creativity than the others, in addition to the dedication to putting the game together. GMing is hard work.

I went through so many games during high school. We were playing a new one every couple of months. When 2ed AD&D was released, we rejoiced, and the game resurged in my group. It quickly fell again, as i discovered WFRP, and fell in love with the setting and combat system.

Remember, this was the time when games were for the biggest geeks and losers around. I think back now, and even the gamers had a pecking order....

At about 16-17, I was far beyond tired of playing level based games with restrictive classes, bags of hit points and walking spellbooks, and was trying to introduce a more characterful, story oriented way of playing to my games. I was maturing as a GM, and i wanted more Narrativism and Simulation. More ROLE playing. Nothing was filling this need, since my group were still motivated by vast amounts of treasure and shiny-shinies.

Once high school ended (91-92), we played CoC and then the Vampire game came to our notice.

Storyteller, more than anything, killed my desire to play. Or, rather, the people who played Storyteller games.

I would talk to other gamers, and they started looking down on anyone who didn't play 'story oriented' games, games that didn't involve angst, depression or drinking blood. The games themselves seemed to convey a 'this is how role playing games are SUPPOSED to be. If you DON'T play like this, then you, are a loser. A gigantic loser, because gamers are already losers.'

Ten years passed, with a half hearted stab at Mage, the Undermountain campaign and WFRP again most recently, last year.

I spent a few years playing Magic: the Gathering, then gave that up. Moved into wargames like Warhammer and WH40K.

So why am I at The Forge?

I have found a game that has rekindled my desire to play: TROS.

That's my history and zsimple overview of the history of roleplaying.

On Dragonlance: i played through the first 3 adventures, but that gigantic map of the dwarven city just daunted me. I had gotten the next batch of modules, and they seemed disjointed and railroading was the norm. I quit Dragonlance, but not AD&D.

I posit three generations of gamers: the old guard, the ones who were playing OD&D in their teens, the ones who hit it when AD&D was released, and the Storyteller generation.

This may tie in with the GNS model, actually.

The original games were very Gamist, (late 70's to early mid 80's) then Simulationism came in (until the early 90's), and finally Narrativism (Vampire and after).

Has this been discussed at all (most likely)?


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 11, 2003, 09:18:11 PM
Hi there Arxhon,

Your post bounces around a few different topics ... for one thing, we're not really discussing personal takes on "my history with D&D and gaming," although it might look a little bit like that. I'm interested in what you're saying, certainly, but if you review this thread and its parent one, you'll see that the topic is pretty specific.

I'm really replying, though, to your GNS interpretations, which are pretty much in line with most people's first reading but are also inaccurate. Vampire's claim to be a "storytelling" game has nothing to do with what we've tagged as Narrativist play, and it may be that you've played very Narrativist in the past, or maybe never seen any such thing. If you'd like, we can discuss that more carefully in the GNS forum, not here.

So, thanks for chiming in - check the topic on this thread before posting to it again - and maybe kick around a GNS notion or two in that forum - and I'll see you then.

Best,
Ron


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on February 12, 2003, 01:53:22 PM
Quote from: Paul Czege
Before this thread gets old, I just wanted to say thanks for your great and definitive post about Dragonlance.


Paul, you’re very welcome. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Quote
I do have another contender for the first metaplot-driven AD&D scenarios, but I'll get to them later.
Did I miss this? Perhaps a new thread?


The series I was thinking of was the AD&D “Desert of Desolation” modules: Pharaoh, Oasis of White Palm, and Lost Tomb of Martek. Pharaoh was, I always thought, one of the all-time great D&D dungeon crawls (along with the original Ravenloft, also by Tracy Hickman). But the adventures got more scripted as they went along. Looking back on the third, “Lost Tomb of Martek,” it almost seems a parody, or at the very least a blueprint of all the ways to railroad a D&D adventure. Witness:

- the module begins with the PCs watching a battle between two mighty NPCs (a djinni and an efreeti). The battle exists only as boxed text. The adventure makes it clear that nothing the PCs do can possibly affect either NPC.

- the PCs travel through a string of mini-dungeons and mini-“dimensions” – each one leads to another and there is only one way in, one path to follow, and one way to escape

- at one point the adventure as written cannot continue unless the PCs allow themselves to get captured – something we all know D&D players will often fight to the death to avoid (this scene caused me great anguish each time I ran this adventure)

- not once but twice in the same adventure the PCs find themselves “at the end of the world” - if they leave the map, they literally fall off the end of the world into the Abyss

- at the end, they bring to life a 3rd mighty NPC and then get to watch – floating above the desert in an indestructible force cube, the ultimate passive observers – as he resolves the fight between the other 2 mighty NPCs

Now I don’t know how many people played this adventure and I’m sure it didn’t have the same impact as Dragonlance, but it is interesting as a historical document, especially as it was written by Tracy Hickman (who would go on to head the Dragonlance adventures & co-write the novels), at precisely the moment before he made the jump from writing D&D adventures to writing fantasy fiction.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 12, 2003, 02:05:07 PM
Rob, I'm puzzled by your claim that these are dungeon crawls. The original dungeon crawls, other than the assumption that you were going dungeon crawling, were totally non-railroaded. They were "meet the map" adventures, and you could go anywhere the passages led, or your abilities could take you. In fact, it was perhaps this element of freedom that first drew me to RPGs.

Open railroading was a later development to ensure that "stories" occured rather than just random monster bashing. That's when stuff like Ravenloft shows up with it's "pick a PC to have a dream" style of force.

Mike


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on February 12, 2003, 02:05:22 PM
I wonder if this thread is likely to get much farther in chronicling the origins of 2nd Edition AD&D, since it seems of the people here (myself included) jumped the AD&D ship before or when 2E arrived.

A thread talking about other games in a historical way might be in order. There’s always the danger of it becoming just a list of personal anecdotes, but there are worse things. I’d like to give a shout out to Paranoia, which shook down many of my assumptions about what gaming “was.” And I’d be very happy to see an intelligent defense of the early 90s White Wolf Storyteller games - they do get dumped on so - but I’m not the one to offer it.

Rob


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Rob MacDougall on February 12, 2003, 02:21:40 PM
Quote
Rob, I'm puzzled by your claim that these are dungeon crawls. The original dungeon crawls, other than the assumption that you were going dungeon crawling, were totally non-railroaded. They were "meet the map" adventures, and you could go anywhere the passages led, or your abilities could take you.


Well, I was just using "dungeon crawl" to mean an adventure in which the PCs are in a dungeon, moving from room to room. But your description does to me describe Pharaoh and even some of the early Dragonlance adventures for the most part. And my memory may just be failing me, but I don't remember any "pick a PC to have a dream" in the original Ravenloft adventure. (Though there is the Very Big Stick of the fact that the PCs are trapped there by the mists until they can kill the vampire.)

I was drawing a distinction between these "transitional" adventures (that combined scripted introductions and endings with elements of standard go anywhere dungeon crawls) and later "railroaded" adventures, where the amount of PC freedom declined considerably.

In these later adventures, you can literally see the railroading on the map.
That is, the map from Keep on the Borderlands or Expedition to the Barrier Peaks or Pharaoh looks very different from the map in Lost Tomb of Martek. The former has rooms and tunnels going all over the place, the latter is a straight line.


Title: precursors to AD&D2
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 12, 2003, 02:31:30 PM
True enough, Rob.

The transitional adventures, as you call them, are kinda schitzophrenic. They have maps and whatnot, but there is also the timeline or other metagame set of events that keep them going. So, in Ravenloft (I played the original modules; maybe it was the second one that had the dreams), you have this interesting 3D map of the castle, but I never used it. What was the point? The players entered the castle and said we look for the entrance to the lower level. Was I really going to describe things room-by-room when they were mostly empty anyhow? No, the description was more like, "After a while of searching about, you discover the stairway down in one of the turrets (or wherever it was). The room detail just wasn't important to the plot that the rest of the adventure provided.

I remember now thinking how odd the whole thing was.

BTW, I played these adventures out using a homebrew system and set in a corner of a world of my own creation, long after I had stopped playing D&D.

Mike


Title: The Origins of 2E?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on February 12, 2003, 07:53:22 PM
Greetings Rob,

Quote from: Rob MacDougall
I wonder if this thread is likely to get much farther in chronicling the origins of 2nd Edition AD&D, since it seems of the people here (myself included) jumped the AD&D ship before or when 2E arrived.


If you can find a site with a comprehensive index for the old Dragon magazine (or if anyone here has a link they'd like ot share) that would probably be the best source for public, if not behind the scenes, info.  (I do recall reading about this in there, long long ago.)  From what I recall a new edition was announced in its pages well in advance of 2E which was, if memory serves, nothing at all like what the original intimation was it would be.  Also there was a promo-primer-advanced preview insert in one issue of 2E.  

Much luck.


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Whee
Post by: xiombarg on February 13, 2003, 01:41:53 PM
I suppose I should post my war story before this thread gets stale. Please excuse me if I ramble.

I got into RPGs -- and D&D -- with the Red Box D&D set with the Erol Otis cover. I don't remember how old I was -- I'm pretty sure I was in grade school. Ironically, at first, I understood roleplaying, in some ways, better than I would subequently, according to some people's tastes. I didn't fully understand the rules, but I understood them enough to run my cousin (abou the same age) through a faux-fantasy adventure, using the rules more as inspiration than anything else. We used the crayon that came with the game to write the character sheet, not to ink the numbers on the dice.

The most notable thing I remember about this adventure is I didn't use the dice. I just winged it. My cousin asked what the dice was for, and I still remember what I said: "I dunno. I guess they're used for more advanced play."

Unfortunately, this marked my decent into rules-lawyering, "it must be this way" kinda play. I became determined to understand how to play correctly. Those rantings from Gygax in Dragon? I took them seriously. I got into hardback AD&D by buying the books at Waldenbooks, and I was running AD&D avidly, off and on, for my friends, about the time Star Frontiers came out.

It's important to note that I was living in West Virginia, isolated from anyone who played -- any new player was introduced to the hobby by me. To get any sort of "peers", I had to turn to the rules themselves, and I became good at the minutae -- tho even I ignored the rules for different penalties and bonuses to different ACs depending on weapon in the PHB. But I became very snotty and superior about the right way to play, as I learned to play straight from Mr. Gygax, as it were.

During this time period, as I went into Junior High, I had my first and only encounter with the sort of females from this period who didn't care about hanging with younger males that other people mentioned. My Gifted Program teacher played D&D. At the time, I thought she was very hot, and I remember hearing rumors about her getting into trouble with the boys years after I left that town...

Ahem. It's important to note, however, I didn't see any enthusiastic female members of the hobby from that point until I discovered Vampire.

Anyhoo, as I grew older, in High School, I started to drift into other games, but I was still very much an Old School AD&D player. My parents sent me to High School in Pittsburgh, PA, and I got a lot wider exposure to things there, including a new peer group of gamers, who played all sorts of games from Battletech to Twilight: 2000, and were largely Gamist, while I was slowing moving in a more Simulationist direction.

This was when I started to drift away from AD&D. The reasons were many:

1) What I called the "new look" of D&D. I'm still a big fan of the Erol Otis artwork -- I hate Elmore's work with a passion. I really didn't like this "family-friendly" version of the game that I had loved. The first signs of this was the renaming of the "Dieties and Demigods" tome to "Legends and Lore", and culminated with the release of D&D 2E -- which didn't have demons in it. AD&D wasn't the game I remembered anymore. My friend Cormac had the 2nd ed rulebooks, and I played a few times -- I liked the rules okay, but I didn't like where the game was going, theme-wise, tho I would have never been able to articulate that at the time. Superficial? Yeah, but I was in high school, after all.

2) Ironically, part of my drift was because I liked some of the "new school" books that DIDN'T have the full whitewash treatment. I liked "Unearthed Arcana", because I liked the new options, including being able to play a Drow, and the proficiency system, which gave AD&D a skill system I thought it needed. "Oriental Adventures" had all the flavor that all the other new stuff lacked, while still remaining very much "AD&D", and took AD&D out of the dungeon, which, as an odd sort of Gyaxian Simulationsit, I was tried of. See, by this point, I'd been exposed to Traveller and GURPS and Runequest and Twilight: 2000 -- I was starting to appreciate a solid Simulationist design, particularly a skill system, and a system without character classes.

3) Genre. Fact of the matter is, I grew up watching Star Trek re-runs. In my earlier years I started out reading mystery novels, and then shifted to SF. I was never very big into Tolkien or any other kind of fantasy -- in fact, most of my interest in fantasy came from D&D. I really, really wanted to play "Star Frontiers" but no one else was interested, except my little brother, who was five years younger than me. Increasingly, there were games on the market that supported SF or horror, which interested me more than any form of fantasy.

I owned the original Dragonlance novel, but never ran them. I could have cared less about railroading at that point -- but I think I sensed, without being to articulate it, the lack of power for the GM. I didn't feel there was much for me to DO. This is pretty amazing when you consider I mainly ran from pre-prepared modules -- but I improvised to connect them. Plus, I was very invested in -- and liked -- Greyhawk, and I didn't like the idea of a whole new world. In fact, I remember being pissed off when I opened the first module and found I couldn't use it with any of the other modules I owned.

Dunno if any of this is helpful, feel free to poke me about any aspect of it if it seems useful. In a sense I was a good control group until High School. My sense of dates are terrible, but if it helps to understand that chonology, I was born in '72.