Monday, September 8, 2014

The Gateway Drug to Hardcore Fantasy Gaming

Dungeons and Dragons Basic RulesDungeons and Dragons Basic Rules by Tom Moldvay
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*** HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY D&D!!! ***
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! I was given the "basic set" aka "the red box set" for my 9th birthday and I couldn't have been happier!

It was the early 80s and Dungeons and Dragons was the game everyone was talking about, for better or worse. My two older cousins, who I idolized, already owned it and had been talking up big-time this crazy new kind of game ("So it's not a board game? How does that work?" I remember asking) where you could be a wizard, warrior, elf, halfling ("What's a halfling?"..."A hobbit."..."Oh."), dwarf, thief, cleric ("What's a cleric?"..."It's like a priest."..."Oh," I said, still not really understanding why a priest would be called a cleric and why in their right minds anyone would waste their time playing one.) and once you created this character you then went adventuring off to some old ruined castle where you would find monsters in the dungeon which you'd kill and take their treasure. Brilliant! Sign me up!

Well, easier said than done. After the birthday party was over, I opened the box, admired the funny shaped dice, flipped through the pre-made accompanying adventure The Keep on the Borderlands and then I turned to the actual rulebook...and then over the next few hours I steadily turned from pink to blue to purple and red with rage and frustration that I couldn't make heads or tails of it. Soon after followed desperation as I feared I would never figure it out and thus would never be able to play the game.

The issue with novices learning how to play D&D back then was that the available version at the time did not walk you through a how-to play the game introduction. There were no step-by-step instructions like a board game has. No, when you flipped the Basic rulebook open it essentially said, this is what's in this book, now go create a character! I guess I was stubborn. I wanted a full explanation of the game from start to finish. Hahahaha! What I didn't realize was that creating a character was the start of the game and that - unless that character died - there was no end to the game. Honestly, I was too young and ignorant of many of the ideas and concepts one needed to understand D&D. Ah, but in swept mom (not dad, who has never understood fiction/fantasy in any form...well, except for maybe porn) to save the day! She got me over the hump on a few stumpers and off I went! Within a short while I was at my cousin's and we were killing goblins and wererats in "The Haunted Keep" mini-module (a pre-made adventure) that came with the rule book.

And thus began years worth of fun and celibacy through out my teens!

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