I was talking with a friend today about this sick nostalgia thing that has swept the culture ever since the nerds have won weltanschauung hit us hard.
Case in point, and the subject of our discussion today – people waxing nostalgic about the D&D Red Box.
I mean, really?
Don’t get me wrong – the Basic Set Red Box was certainly the first form of roleplaying game for a lot of people, including my brother (me, I started playing with Call of Cthulhu), but really thirty years on people still consider that their best, and most memorable gaming experience?
Talking with my friends today, we came to the conclusion that we were playing stories, not maps, and therefore what remained in our hearts and our memories are the worlds, not the mechanics of those early games.
And while I still consider the Rules Cyclopedia as the highest point ever reached by the D&D system, what I remember fondly is the world of Mystara, in which the adventures we played were set. A world detailed in a series of much cherished Gazetteers.
And by that time, we were using a home-brew system that was a Frankenstein monster of D&D and AD&D, plus a number of copybooks filled with notes and sketches and stuff.
But none of us is moved to tears today remembering the Red Box – apart from myself, probably, at the thought that a first level thief was supposed to know how to use a dagger but not a cudgel. Hitting someone on the head with a chunk of wood would be something only the Blue Box would allow me.
But apart from these silly memories, I’m sometimes worried by this good old days feeling that’s sweeping what I once considered my culture.
And I found myself thinking back at Billy Joel’s song, Keeping the Faith
You can get just so much
From a good thing
You can linger too long
In your dreams
Say goodbye to the
Oldies but goodies
Cause the good ole days weren’t
And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems
So yes – we had fun with D&D.
But not because of the rules.