Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It Was 30 Years Ago...

Has it really been that long? Indeed, it has.

The Christmas of 79' brought memories of the monstrous Chicago blizzard from earlier that year and delivered to me the next evolution in my gaming history.

Yes, that started with TSR's Dungeon Master's Guide. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. And despite my falling math grades (I was just drawing dungeons in class) my parents picked up the guide that set a standard for all rule-books to come.

I was looking forward to the "Advanced" version of the game, that's what everyone was moving towards at the time. I even had the TSR S2 module 'White Plume Mountain'. Though I had been playing Holmes 'basic' for the past year and playing it wrong for the first six months, I felt that it was time I moved up with the big boys, I felt that I was an 'Advanced' D&D player.

Well, of course, as a youngster, I was overwhelmed with all the rules. What I think I really wanted was the Player's Handbook which had details of all the different character races and classes. But I was, at this time, still acting as DM for my friends who were just starting to follow my lead so it was the DM guide for me. The hard book cover screamed "I'm an Advanced gamer now, so enter at your own risk!"

Though the 1st ed Advanced books are fantastic and classic aspects of the game, I have always found those rules to be too heavy. I would always go back to Holmes, sprinkling a bit of the Advanced rules in here and there. The simplicity of the rules are what kept me there. We played D&D religiously the next year, but 1980 would introduced new games to my universe.


  1. Well, I came in at AD&D so no Holmes for me. I got the PHB in softback first, then the MM and DMG at the same time. As I have often said, the heaviness of the rules is what you make it - I find that I can run games with only four pieces of information - THAC0, AC, HP and damage per hit. The rest is commentary. If a DM needs to be checking the books every five minutes, he's either new (which will pass) or a very insecure DM.

    Occasionally, I have to check in the PHB on the exact details of a particular spell, but this can be overcome with an index card for each spell and handing it to the player who has that one learned up.

    But 30 years ago...I was a mere lad of 14 then. Now I'm feeling old!

  2. I like the index card idea. Spells are the one thing that I do have to look up.

    You're right about really only needing a couple pieces of information to run the game. I think back then I felt that the books were THE rules of the game and I probably fell more under the insecure DM using the Advanced rules back in the day. I can look at it all now as just color for the game.

  3. Holmes to AD&D was my progression too. Like you, we only took what we wanted from AD&D.

    If I may ask, how were you playing Holmes "wrong"?

    My verification was unalurs. Sounds like some sort of creature to me.

  4. Actually, I've been wanting to write up a post about our early D&D travesties. I'll post it in the next day or two.