I’ve had a strange relationship with the grandfather of all RPGs. I speak, of course, of the venerable Dungeons & Dragons.
You see, as a child of the 80s, I originally bought in to the “Satanic Panic” that was going on around the game and so did my parents. I had known a few people who played, but I avoided those people for fear that I would somehow become “corrupted.”
One Christmas my parents bought me the D&D Basic Red Box for reasons I have never, and will probably never, understand. They were staunchly against the game, or so I thought, but bought it they did. At first, I feigned interest but didn’t really read the books.
Then, one day, in a fit of boredom, I opened the box and began to read. Then I played the solo adventure. And from that point on, I was hooked on RPGs. I tried to run a session with my dad, but it fell flat and he didn’t seem to enjoy it. As an only child, and having just moved to Dallas, I had nobody else to play the game with so I ended up creating solo adventures. Eventually, my parents would buy me the Expert and Champions boxes as well.
Junior High passed and during the summer my parents went on an anti-D&D rampage and threw out all of my stuff. Like their purchase of the Basic set, I never understood exactly why they did that.
I had mostly forgotten about D&D for a couple of years, but one day one of my friends brought the old AD&D 1e Player’s Handbook to school and I flipped through it. My desire to game had been rekindled, and (as I had a job now) I bought my own copy of the AD&D 2nd Edition PHB, DMG and MM. I had to keep my gaming on the downlow, as my parents were still completely against D&D. At this time I knew no other gamers in school except for my one friend that had brought the AD&D book, but he had recently “found religion” and refused to play such a “Satanic game.” So, once again, I resorted to solo play when my parents were out of the house (which was often).
I would occasionally go to the local game store in the mall after school and, one day, I saw a new game…Vampire the Masquerade. I picked it up, took it to school and met some other gamers and we quickly formed a group. Although today I am ashamed to admit it, I became one of those “artsy” gamers who derided all things D&D in favor of the more “mature” games we were playing.
I began to profess a hatred for D&D, and refused to play it. The only exception was the Planescape setting, which I picked up mainly because of the art; I would very, very rarely play Planescape but for the most part, the 90s were spent on other games. Toward the end of the 90s, a nasty divorce almost made me stop altogether.
Around the same time I met my wife (the one I’m now married to, not my ex), 3rd Edition was released from Wizards of the Coast. I had planned to start my own gaming company as a hobby about that time, and so I got in on the SRD some months before 3rd edition was actually released to the public, partly out of curiosity. And, once again, the D&D flame was rekindled. 3e fixed many of the problems I had perceived having with 2nd edition, and I jumped in wholeheartedly, upgrading when 3.5 was released.
Then I heard the announcement of 4th Edition. I had begun to burn out on 3rd edition and had decided to resolve to not get into 4e at all. I wrapped my 3.5 campaign, and got rid of all of my 3.x books (which was a sizable collection, even though I didn’t buy much in the way of 3PP..but my feelings on the OGL and 3PP are perhaps a subject for another article). However, I’d occasionally jump to the D&D site to see exactly what they had planned for 4th edition. It didn’t take long for me to go from “I’m done with D&D” to “hmm. That’s kind of interesting” to “I’m buying this on the first day it’s released.” And I did, and we started up a 4e campaign as soon as possible.
4e holds a strange place for me. In many ways, it’s my favorite version of the game to date. In other ways, primarily those dealing with maps and minis, it’s my least favorite. This is compounded by the fact that I have been running my games online for many years now. As a result, i tend to flare brightly, loving 4e and then burn out in a blaze of utter disdain for it. For practically all of 2011, I disregarded 4e for the most part (though I still loved it in many ways), and tried my hand at Pathfinder, but I have come back around to 4e and we began a 4e Eberron game at the end of 2011.
Also, I began collecting and re-reading 2e books. I have amassed a very respectable collection of AD&D 2e rulebooks and, as of today am starting up a monthly 2e campaign. In rereading the books, I found several “mistakes” I made back in the early days, and have come to actually love 2e, THaC0 and all. And, to remind myself of my roots, I have gotten a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia.
And then, of course, the other day WotC announced 5e or DnDNext or whatever it ends up being called. I’m super excited about what I’ve heard about this new D&D. Once again, I’ve signed up for the playtest, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.