Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

Ah, I can still remember the early days of my role playing experience(s). It was a wonder to discover such an imaginative game and it fit my nature very well. Today I still make strong daily use of my imagination and my vocabulary and reading skills are strong and while I'm not so geeky as to attribute it all to AD&D I do feel it was a strong contributor. There are several aspects of that game that caught my mind and I felt like blogging a little about that.
I still wonder how much that gem stone eye is worth...
I first played with the "Red Box" and I could have easily put up a picture of it but it's elsewhere on the blog. This player's handbook though is really where I took off. I started refereeing my own games as Dungeon Master (giggle snort) and my group grew from two (including me) to nine (including me again) and we had such amazing adventures! I wish now that I had kept a journal of the sessions more for short story material than anything else. I still have a manila folder with character sketches of the player's characters one of the players had made. They are wonderful to dig out every now and then, sure they are totally and COMPLETELY geeky but the essence of role playing is just geeky and to see the vague references within those drawings of the people who played those characters is a sweet bit of history.

Another aspect of those early days was the art. Today's fantasy art is, well, fantastic stuff. Wayne Reynolds is one of my favorites, his work is just full of action although it is wildly unreal (which is wildly awesome imho) but it and the others lack the simple evocation of artist like Jeff Easily and Larry Elmore. Hell, Larry Elmore basically defined what a beautiful woman looks like and I married a woman who is such an Elmorian beauty you wouldn't believe it. Work's like the cover of the AD&D game cartridge for the Intellivision (right) has something in it. Something that captures the sense of exploration and adventure and I think this is because it was such a new field for many people and there is a quality to it that makes it possible to believe the giant snake could be real even though logic tells you it isn't. When playing the game artwork like this makes it easy to craft what a beholder would 'really' look like in your imagination. I wish I was rich so I could obtain some of these originals and build a museum to them, HA!

The toys was another large part of the over all experience. I didn't have many, I didn't have much money and I grew out of toy age kind of fast but even now I've collected a few (including a Dragonne unopened in box) but the toys have that same quality the earlier art work did. They were crude, rough hewn, natural in their own way. The minotaur looked feral and brutal, the orcs weasily and threatening and the heroes like those who had risen to the challenge when they could have been a black smith or farmer. Miniatures are prominent in my life now and though I no longer play RPGs I still look at these toy soldiers in a similar light I looked at those old toys. The pre-painted plastics that have grown up through the years are weak next to these old toys even though they are better made and better looking, they look manufactured in a way the old AD&D toys didn't.


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