Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reminiscing About Dungeons and Dragons

The Gesture
by Teresa Young

Tiger Tracks
by Teresa Young
I am always mulling over how the world works in general terms as it's quite an interesting subject... 

Lately, I've been thinking about my world and how it has changed since I was a kid, and one major way that it has changed is in how I play games...

When I was small, we read books, watched a bit of TV, socialized by playing cops and robbers, or other such simplistic role playing games
Those games were pretty good, but you needed an excellent imagination to fill in the blanks, or you quickly ran out of ideas.

Blue Mushrooms
by Teresa Young
When I was older, something called Dungeons and Dragons was invented and I was one of those geeky teenagers that went with others of my kind to play in garages and basements.  (Still with the imaginary role playing; we filled in the blanks in our heads!) 

It was great fun, and it's interesting to see what subsequently developed out of it with computers and the gaming industry.

It was very different then, with the speed of the computers and gaming units, we moved at a snails pace of progress on our quests as we had to meet with the other nerds to play, so it took time.  I remember that I had one character that lasted about nine months, and it was slow going because we used hexagonal dice with drawn out dungeons and a physical dungeon master (one of your buddies) overseeing  your progress on quest(s). 

We moved our little metal markers on a graph physically using the dice rolls to determine characteristics and movement, and your character was restricted to progressing when you could get together to play.  Not to mention battles and outcomes!

Queen of Thorns
by Teresa Young
The person that had the most work was the dungeon master, he actually drew out the dungeons in coloured pencil and felt pens on large graph paper sheets and put it up in front of himself so that the players couldn't see it.  As we all rolled our progress with dice he'd have to physically chart it on his graphs in order for us to move along. He had books to refer to for characteristics of monsters and characters and with status ranges that could be represented by the dice rolls.  There were also ranges and guidelines for battling, leveling and rewards, it was pretty involved.

These funny little books with no colour illustrations were ordered by snail mail and were obviously mimeographed in somebodies basement as well!  It was like a cottage industry in the seventies, and our parents were scandalized and debated how healthy D and D was for their kids.  Citing lack of exercise and how it could lead into going into cults or believing in the occult, it was the big ogre of many PTA groups!

It's pretty funny as I've heard the same hoopla come out multiple times over the years as each new generation of gaming formats developed.  And as far as I've seen, everyone has survived, especially the youth, and we don't seem to be any the worst for it.

Now I guess I'll go see what I have in my library of games I can play... HehHeh!

Art Images by Teresa Young:
1. Tiger Tracks - March 2004,   2. The Gesture - June 2007,  3. Blue Mushrooms - January 2002,  4. Queen of Thorns - August 2008.

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SF Girl said...

LOL! You are dating yourself! HAR! ... I have to admit that I wasn't into gaming when Dungeons and Dragons became THE GAME...

The first game I got involved in through my son was a puzzle/discovery game called MYST... I still have wonderful memories of spending days and nights on it at the expense of my writing! LOL!

Dalifan said...

Sure I am! But it's something I'm actually proud of, given how integral this game became in our society and how it entertains itself...

I'll always remember the day I mentioned this to my son after he had been playing computer games for years. It elicited an 'Oh wow!' reaction that I'm sure I wouldn't have topped with anything else;-)

And I'd rather play a role playing game than a lot of other pasttimes...

Thanks for commenting;-)