I like to play Dungeons & Dragons.
But I was bored of playing the 4th edition of the game, which is too little like the older versions I grew up playing.
And I was also inspired by Zak Smith’s blog and enthused by the re-publishing of the old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons manuals. So, for the past few months, I’ve been running an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
It’s early, but so far it has been everything I hoped for.
We have had characters’ lives balanced on the roll of a single die. Quick battles. Running away. Capture. Escape. And the sort of best-plan-busting creativity I remember. And – despite my familiarity with the ruleset – plenty of winging it. The things I truly dislike about the more recent version of the game are out of sight and out of mind, and the game has been fantastic fun.
Beyond simply returning to the older versions of the game, I’m making a conscious effort to be slightly “old school” with my approach. I’m not entirely sure what that is, mind you, but there’s a certain type of randomness I associate with older roleplaying games — the rolling of 3d6 to determine an ability score, random encounter tables, Decks of Many Things, the risk of rolling up a 1st level fighter with 1 hit point.
Once upon a time, house rules were furiously added in an attempt to control this randomness; an approach that must have been popular, as each iteration of the game has further reduced the frailty of low level characters, and the randomness and cruelty of the fantasy world in which the game is played.
Now, all those things are embraced with only minimal nods in character creation towards allowing the players to create a character they will want to play. A random encounter with zombies might kill the entire party — but it was rolled; it happens.
The whole thing is such fun that I’m going to go out a limb and say you should do it too. Not only should you do it, but you can do it. All old books are now published for sale in PDF form.
So go forth, young (or old) gamers! And play like we did in the ’80s. (Or ’70s or ’90s, if that’s your thing.)