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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lament for Basic Dungeons & Dragons

As I flip through the beautiful hardcover books comprising D&D's 4th edition core rules set, I can't help but think back to that time in 1981 when my dad finally allowed me to pick up the D&D Basic Set--you know, the red box with the hot wizardess holding a glowing green orb, Keep on the Borderlands inside.... In any case, that purchase altered my life in ways that I could not, of course, describe then, but are clear now; any bit of imagination I possess, my literary interests, my gaming interests, you name it, are all on account of the old D&D--the pen and paper version.

Remember rolling characters with an intelligence of 6? remember when Elf was a class? Remember when a 1st level character's survival rate was 4.8%--less if you created a wizard or a thief? Well, I do, and I miss it. I also miss mapping--that was my favorite part. The DM says, "You open the door to a 20'X30' room with another door in the middle of the east wall." Ah, those were the days. Too, I didn't have to crunch 4,000 numbers before swinging a sword or shooting a bow. Roll the d20. Hit? Roll damage. We had so much fun, and could easily complete a module (remember how fantastic those were?) in a day-long session.
-- A Curmudgeons's Lament Regarding the Death of the Imagination

My brother and I used to spend whole days with nothing more than the old red box starter set - exactly the one described here: some paper, some dice, a set of rules and Keep On The Borderlands. Borderlands was essentially a mini campaign, a brilliantly designed area for simple exploration which we plundered over and over again.

I can see the rationale behind a D&D based board game, having enjoyed games like Doom: The Board Game and Zombies, not to mention older games like Talisman - but I can concur that a truly simplified RPG ruleset would and should have a place in the franchise's lineup.

I've been poking at a web-based RPG parody using dice (think Munchkin) and I was pulling up the code - thought this was a poignant thought for a Saturday morning.

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