A trip down the RPG memory lane

[Warning: This post contains significant nerdy reminiscing. Proceed with caution.]

A friend of mine, who does some Web work for some Hollywood types, recently found out that she’s going to be attending the next Polaris convention in Toronto, with a full access pass. Funny thing is that she doesn’t really like SF and she’s never been to (or wanted to go to) a science fiction convention. Her husband, on the other hand, would probably kill to go but he gets to stay home to babysit their four-legged children. This is a man who still plays Dungeons and Dragons with his buddies on a regular basis. Part of me feels a bit sad for him. The rest hopes she’ll take me instead. 😉 (Speaking of conventions, I just realized that the 67th World Science Fiction Convention is being held in Montreal this year. Hmm…the World Fantasy Convention is a little more my speed, but I don’t feel like getting a passport and going to California for it this year. Too bad I didn’t know about it last year — Calgary would have been doable and I’d’ve liked to have seen Tad Williams.)

Today, through a Facebook friend, I came across the webcomic “The Order of the Stick” by Rich Burlew, which follows the adventures (in marvelous stick figure form) of a table top RPG group. If you’ve ever played a D&D game, you’ll find it really funny. If not, then you might only find it moderately funny. I can’t believe I’ve never come across it before.  (I guess there *are* uses for Facebook after all.)

The Order of the Stick

I don’t play online RPGs. Aside from the fact that the onscreen movements of the avatars make me car sick, I’m old skool. If I’m going to be playing a role playing game, I want to be sitting in someone’s basement, rolling dice, and having goofy Real Life interactions. (Sometimes you really do need to throw dice at someone’s head to make a point.)

The only electronic dungeon-y game I ever really enjoyed was Rogue, which remains one of my favourite games to this day. I used to play it endlessly while working evenings as a computer operator at a Halifax university. Back then, pre-WWW, there was no easy access to a cheat sheet or the like so I painstakingly created my own list of magic items and monsters that I shared with coworkers and students. Somewhere in my parents’ storage room, I’m sure there’s a 5.25 DOS floppy with those text files on it. (I am a packrat, you know.) I’m so glad to see that people are still keeping it alive. (BTW The third strip on http://www.giantitp.com/comics/GuestStrips.html shows what it was like in action — if you’ve ever played it, you’ll get the humour. If not, meh…)

Some of the best times I ever had in the early and mid 80s involved mammoth Dungeons and Dragons campaigns with my friends, followed by 3am pizza or Timmy’s runs. I can still tell you all about the characters I created and how they came about (like the female human/elf fighter who, after being killed, deflowered the group’s paladin in his sleep, turning him into a plain old fighter; or the hafling thief with neglible dexterity and fighting skills but an amazing luck with the saving throws). Later there were weekend Traveller, Call of Cthlulu, Champions, Shadowrun (one of my favourite games), and Elfquest marathon campaigns. I took a stab at being a Dungeon Master for a Dragonlance campaign, but it didn’t work out well — I’m a very capricious DM with a liking for changing the preset portions of the campaign in the middle of a fight. No one knew but the guilt drove me to give the role back to our usual DM after a very short time.

Those were the days I hung out at Halcon and, after Halcon got banned from Halifax hotels because unruly attendees trashed the hotels, NovaCon — I spent a huge chunk of time at my last NovaCon in the late 80s standing outside watching the Halifax Fire Department try to keep the Holiday Inn on Robie from going up in flames. Ottawa used to have a lot of SF and comic conventions each year when I first moved up here but I never attended any (bus service to the locations from where I was living being poor back then) and I haven’t heard too much about them in recent years. Maybe they no longer hold them.

Yes, I was a nerd. (Who’m I kidding? I still am.)

(BTW The Beige Dragon shown on the OOTS incentives page sounds strangely familiar to me. Dragons are hoarders, you know. Sounds so much more impressive when they do it, though.)


4 thoughts on “A trip down the RPG memory lane

  1. My husband used to play D&D, but now is addicted to a game called “Travian”. Have you ever heard of it? Yes, he’s a nerd, but that’s part of the reason I love him. LOL.

  2. Awesome. The interesting thing about the table-top games is they just get better as you mature … the funny plots of the D&D we played as kids is a world away from the plots we construct (and the way we play) as the old-geeks we are. If I liked wine, this would be a great spot for *aging = quality* metaphor, but I don’t–so, there ya go 🙂

  3. The banner in the above post links to the doorway page to both Giant in the Playground comics, and the OOTS link in the blogroll points to the archive list of all strips, instead of the first strip. 🙂

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