I would guess that one cannot attempt to blog regularly about roleplaying games without eventually comparing and contrasting different gaming systems. I feel that time has arrived for me, after less than a month of it.
However, I also feel that any such comparison is useless if you do not know the gaming history and style of the one doing the comparing. So, before we begin, these things need to be shared. Today is a chronology. Thursday will discuss roleplaying styles, and the comparison will happen next week.
Planned blogging. This could be a dangerous precedent.
My first roleplaying experience came somewhere between the ages of seven and nine, in Noel Cooper’s living room. Alan (sorry Alan, your last name is escaping me for the moment) wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons with the two of us and some other friends. It was first edition AD&D, a one-shot, and a first experience for both Noel and me.
I distinctly remember not quite “getting it”, and I think my character might have died. But that did not stop me (or Noel) from taking part in an ongoing game (of basic D&D) after that, and I became engrossed in the world of dungeons and dragons. It became my number one hobby: I read fantasy novels obsessively, I collected lead miniatures and occasionally attempted to paint them. I was not born to paint miniatures, but there was no way that was stopping me. If there had been an internet, I’m sure I would have been playing over Twitter or something.
Eventually, I graduated back to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (1st edition), and when the second edition came out I was all over it like a six year old girl on LSD playing with My Little Ponies — I collected every supplement that came out. Over the next ten years, though new roleplaying games would introduced to my world — GURPS, Shadowrun and eventually the White Wolf games — AD&D 2E continued as the undisputed champion. It was my main game.
Then puberty hit, and games took a back seat to girls (which probably happens to many a young geek). This did not mean that I stopped playing — it just stopped being more important than other things, such as girls and guitars. Scheduled gaming sessions ended, and roleplaying became a series of one-shots and, eventually, long drawn-out games with no schedule to them. High School gave way to University, and roleplaying stopped completely.
However, I proved unable to quit the habit. After enjoying some non-roleplaying time, I started to get the itch. I designed a new game, got some players, and started a weekly game that continued for nearly four years. While I used the system I had for so long been enamoured with (AD&D 2E), I was increasingly exposed to short bursts of other games through my new roleplaying friends — some familiar, some brand new. I even tried LARPing. Eventually, I fell for another game — Amber Diceless Roleplaying, based on Zelazny’s novels.
Post-University, D&D was out. Third edition was released, and I had no desire to buy a new set of books for it. For my friends, Amber was King, and we had rulesets galore — Amber, Mage, Vampire, In Nomine, Paranoia … well, the list goes on and on (and on). Pay money for a set of rules for a game that we were not really interested in playing? Not very likely.
Roleplaying in those days was finally a “normal” hobby. A mix of campaigns with irregular schedules and one-offs using various systems. All with a small group of friends — this was just one of the things we did together. After about 15 years in which roleplaying for me meant the fantasy genre, it was good to play something else. Sci Fi, superhero … whatever.
Moving to London brought the second roleplaying hiatus. Followed by another itch. So I got some new players, and took a trip to the shop for a set of 4E D&D books … which brings us to now.