Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Another Unwise Experiment I Don't Have Time For - Or, How To Be Your Own Hargrave

From time to time, I think we all feel like starting over, right? Like trashing everything we've been working on and starting from a blank slate. I feel like, in a lot of ways, that whole "this is what my life was like seven years ago and here's what it's like now" thing from Sunday night was about that, but not really about this blog. It was about an idea I had.

What if we started over with RPG gaming completely. What if we went back, way back, and started where published RPGs began, with that beautiful old white box (or woodgrain box if you prefer) and the three little books inside? Three classes, a handful of spells, some misleading rules... What if we went all the way back to that rule set and started there. Started.

Because it's not going to take long for we to need to add something. It'll probably be a monster, right? Maybe some spell or magical treasure? It's probably not going to be a class, but maybe a race? Doesn't matter, because it's coming. 

And here's where the experiment starts: you make the thing you want to add yourself. Let the answer be your answer. Challenge yourself to make the thing and to make as many other new things as you may need. 

After enough of these alterations, additions and arcana accrue, the experiment is to see at what point does the game you're playing cease to be Whitebox OD&D and start playing another game entirely. And not in an "ooooh, you added something, not it's a whole different game!" way, but in a very real way, just like how Gary chided "Dungeons & Beavers" (read: Warlock and Compleat Warlock) for not being D&D anymore.

That's your Dave Hargrave moment.

Because you're still kind of playing OD&D, right? But you're also very much not.

This used to be normal. This used to just be the way things were. And in the DIY D&D movement, it's still very much how it is, so I don't really expect that folks who read my blog will find this very revolutionary, because it's not supposed to be.

Instead, it's an experiment in differential gaming. Where does that Dave Hargrave moment exist? How much do you have to add or change to get there? How much of you do you have to put into the thing to make it no longer reasonably interpretable as OD&D? Is it even an interesting distinction?

I really enjoy the idea of a sort of alternate reality D&D where instead of someone else making the decisions that shape D&D, the choices made were the ones I would have made. They may not be the right ones, and that's okay. This experiment isn't about perfection. It's about what I would've come up with, and, frankly, I expect it to fail. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Mic Check

Hi, my name is Adam and I like to read, write, think about and even play RPGs.

I started this blog back in August 2012, just shy of seven years ago. A lot has changed since then, and a lot hasn't.

Seven years ago, my wife and I took a vacation to the town we live in now. Seven years ago, I discovered the vibrant OSR blogosphere while on that vacation. I remember staying up late after she'd gone to bed, sitting on the front porch of the house we were staying at (it was my parents', but they were out of the country and we were housesitting, so I guess it wasn't really a vacation), reading Wampus Country later than my wife appreciated. That "vacation," I bought a stack of Savage Sword of Conan at the antique mall in the tourist town (South Haven, MI) my folks lived in. I picked up a battered "Best Sci Fi & Fantasy 1972" paperback from Black River Books. My wife and I fought about RPGs and our wedding (which had been the year before) in front of my brother.

It was all there. Opening my eyes to the actual creative endeavors of the proper OSR (what now gets called "art-punk" or even "sword dream" or some other such nonsense) that beat the pants off of any of the watered-down crap from major publishers spewing out mainstream, readily-digestible swill rather than raising the level of discourse (yes, WotC, I'm bored by you). A healthy diet of Buscema-drawn decapitations and pre-genre-D&D fantasy & sci-fi. The fight with my wife was stupid, but it happened in front of my brother, so he got a glimpse at the real of his brother's marriage.

And then, about a month later, I did what anyone recently awakened to theory or art or thought that they had just scratched the surface of would do: I started a blog.

And in those seven years, a lot has changed.

I met a group of friends for life, the other players and DMs of the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign (oh, god, this is my first post since the death of G+; it was my instinct just then to + in everyone by name, but I guess you guys know who you are, right?).

Wayne, Edgar & I wrote, drew & and published the first three issues of the zine we named after our online campaign.

I met a friend-of-friends named Donn and started a podcast with him. That podcast would last three seasons over four years and has a bunch of material that still needs to be released. Donn is now up for an Ennie and you should vote for all things Mothership.

My wife and I had our first child, Stanley, and then moved across the state to that town where we had vacationed in 2012 to be closer to my parents.

After Stanley was born, I couldn't play with the Metal Gods as much and eventually, that group met its end. Everyone blames the drugs and booze.

I started two new jobs, but the last three years at that second new job has been amazing. Basically, I sell RPGs to folks who have no idea what an RPG is.

My sleep issues started getting a lot worse, especially my Restless Leg Syndrome and now I can't sleep through the night without prescription drugs or pot.

I spent a whole year without blogging.

The old Metal Gods zine team decided to get the band back together and we launched a really well-received Kickstarter for the first ZineQuest this year to produce three new issues featuring lots and lots of art from folks I've wanted to work with for years.

My wife Kate and I got pregnant again. The baby is due the week of Christmas. My timing sucks.

And I started reading Wampus Country again, from the beginning.

In the town that I discovered it seven years ago.

And I've got a bunch of Savage Sword of Conan comics and lots of pre-genre-D&D sci-fi.

And even more amazing gaming friends than I had seven years ago.

I'm happy to still be here with you, folks.



The very first post on Dispatches from Kickassistan was the one-and-only ever episode of Korgoth of Barbaria. Maybe you haven't seen it, but you probably have. If not, enjoy. If so, enjoy again.