Ok. Here we are. Welcome.
So what I’m trying to do here (at least for now) is look at tabletop role-playing, genre fantasy, and all the other geekery and pop culture marginalia that might conceivably intersect or inform those things.
In my personal pre-history (which is to say the mid-seventies to the dawning of the eighties), there was already in my brain a nascent cauldron of fantasy abubble: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz conjured by the voice of a babysitter, King Arthur for boys illuminated by NC Wyeth, four-color barbarians on spinner-racks, Myth and legend sifted by Bullfinch and Harryhausen, singing hobbits and rotoscoped orcs, power swords split in twain on not one, but two, alien worlds; an elf, a dwarf, a giant--and a slayer named Hawk, the doom that came to Vermithrax Pejorative, fantasylands with oracular pigs and messianic lions.
Somewhere in there, I read a couple of TSR Endless Quest “choose your own adventure” style books. My interest is these led an older cousin to introduce me to AD&D. Though I don’t remember completely, I suspect my first character borrowed a bit from the elven protagonist of Rose Estes’ Mountain of Mirrors. Pretty soon, I introduced a couple of my friends to role-playing and was dungeonmastering with a Moldvay basic set purchased serendipitously by our gifted program teacher.
1983 dawned and the castle gates were thrown wide with the Dungeons and Dragons toyline (and their poor relations the Dragonriders of the Styx), the D&D cartoon, and the short-lived Wizards and Warriors TV show. Maybe it was that Christmas (or at latest, the one after) that I got Monster Manual II, the new Elmore cover Player’s Handbook, and the old Sutherland cover Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Contrary to common parental fears of the era, gaming didn’t turn into a destructive obsession--quite the contrary. D&D led me to, or at least strengthened my interest in, interests beyond gaming I might not have got otherwise. Lists of inspirational readings in game manuals and Gygaxian asides led me to Howard, Leiber, Moorcock, and Burroughs. Searching for works by those authors led me over the years that followed to more obscure—but no less rewarding—finds: Karl Edward Wagner, Manly Wade Wellman, CL Moore, and Leigh Brackett.
Ok, so those are all pulp writers. Maybe they're not the best representatives of the educational merits of gaming—though reading at all is probably meritorious, these days. In addition to fictional inspirations, though, creating my owns towns, cities, cultures, and ultimately worlds led to an interest in history, culture, comparitive religion, and linguistics. It's no hyperbole to give gaming the credit for a large portion of the nonfiction books in my collection that usually impresses visitors, and keeps me buying new bookshelves.
Those interests stayed even as gaming faded. By high school I was playing GURPS and Mayfair's DC Heroes irregularly. AD&D was already a thing of the past. Throughout my college years, I gamed only a hand full of times (FASA Star Trek, with some Trek-loving, gaming naive friends). The year between college and medical school, saw me playing revisiting 2nd edition AD&D briefly before gaming disappeared from my life entirely throughout medical school.
Nine years, five moves, 5 years of residency, and 2 jobs later, reading Old School related blogs stirred up nostalgia led me to get a group who had gamed briefly in residency back together. While I have a lot of sympathy with the Old School Movement, I can't say that I'm a strict adherent (always assuming that there was a consensus on what that might be). Our current game is Mutants & Masterminds: Warriors & Warlocks. We're playing a sort of "rationalized D&D style world" (more on that to come).
On this page I hope to share things from our game, and ideas I've had I didn't use. I'll review books and just about anything else that I've found inspirational, and maybe others will to. One thing that's always seemed decidedly "old school" and Gygaxian to me is a highly promiscuous approach to inspirations.
So, we'll see where it goes. Hopefully, some place good.
19 minutes ago