Thursday, September 29, 2005

History of a gamer

Well this was how I first started gaming, using miniatures initally with hardly any rules using the old Airfix plastic figures in 1/72 and I also had Britains 54mm plastics. Probably the first rules I can remember using were the ones from Don Featherstone's Wargames book and then I got fairly into Western Skirmish using the rules published by Skirmish Wargames.

At a similar time I'd started playing D&D using the White Box rules in 1977, and continued with these for a while as the AD&D books were fairly expensive on import and the paperback Games Workshop editions didn't come out till around '79 or so. My brother bought most of the D&D stuff and the RPGs I bought were Metamorphosis Alpha, Bunnies and Burrows, Flash Gordon and the Warriors of Mongo and RuneQuest2. Of those RQ2 was the one with by far the most play and I largely abandoned D&D for RQ by the early '80s. I'd also discovered Judges Guild by then and bought my copies of the City State of the Invicible Overlord, Wilderlands of High Fantasy, Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor and a lot of issues of the Dungeoneer.

The second rulebook for the Old West Skirmish actually had a lot of rules for characterisation which certainly moved it well towards RPG, I'll have to dig it out to look at when it was published as it shows that RPG forms were not unique to the D&D community in the States.

I dropped out of gaming pretty much entirely in the mid 80s due to starting full time work, moving more to drinking and pubbing as social activities, then going to university where there wasn't actually an RPG or wargaming society in the first two years and increasing my commitments to running and my athletics club. I still occasionally played Call of Cthulhu and even some supers games, but not often.

2003 I came back into D&D starting again at GenCon Europe in London, with 3e rules playing through the Wizards Amulet/Crucible of Freya from Necromancer Games. This did get me back the gaming bug and I've been playing steadily since then, with two different groups, one being my old group and the other one I joined through an advert on ENWorld.

I've GMed a campaign in the Wilderlands for a few sessions using a couple of homebrew adventures and a prepublished one from Dungeon magazine. I've also had a chance to play the Conan RPG which I like and I have the original edition and haven't really had that much of a problem with the typos for all the ire that they caused at the time of publication.

With the main D&D Campaign I'm currently playing its using the Lost City of Barakus from Necromancer Games and am one of the two players to have been in the campaign since the beginning as sadly a lot of the other players have had to drop out for personal reasons. This has proved to be a good campaign as most of the characters are able to have their own quests and motivations which have given it a bit more life than a straightforward dungeon bash.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ancient Empires pt 1

Went to the British Museum today to see the Persian exhibition. It was striking to see some of the exhibits, but it was very crowded unlike the Sudan exhibition which used the same gallery space and was free.

The workmanship on some of the objects was incredible, mainly the seals either cylinder or stamp type, which needed very fine carving done on the stone they were produced from. The other impressive work was on some of the gold and silver objects, which showed the wealth of the persian empire.The carved statuary had very stylised elements, with the frequent use of a lion or bulls in the figures. In some ways there are many similar items from the babylonian and assyrian collections in the museum so I would not really class this as unmissable, but it is worth seeing.

I think the other thing that struck me was seeing distinct national styles of dress reflected for the different subject peoples from the Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians and Sarmatians, though always seeming to be led by a Persian in their tribute giving.

There are a few inspirations that this gives me mainly back toward one of the first periods I ever looked at wargaming which was Alexander's wars of conquest and establishment of the Macedonian successor states across the near east to India.

All I ever needed to know I learnt from Gaming

Thinking about what skills or abilities gaming, specifically tabletop RPGs have taught or developed in me, I realised that the list of them is reasonably impressive:

  • Research - finding out information from libraries about arms and armour, mediaeval life, obscure fantasy authors all developed this
  • Imagination - this must have been developed by thinking 'outside the box'
  • Tactics - both RPG and wargames encourage this
  • Writing - reading fantasy fiction and the Gygaxian prose of early D&D encouraged me to develop a broad vocabulary
  • Interpersonal skills - co-operating with other party members or managing a group of people as a GM
  • Statistics and odds - knowing why rolling 3 d6 or 2 d6 + 6 gives both a different set of results and different probabilities of any result occuring

Still not something that makes it onto my CV these days as personal interests take up space that my long work history needs, but I can see with less workplaces to demonstrate skills from how there could be value from it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Starting off

First post on my first blog.

Stuff to be written about includes RPG, films, art, sport, etc. Hopefully avoiding the solipsism of some bloggers and looking to create a useful journal.

Okay, how much to say now.

Role playing game boards
I post to a few of these usually as 'Monster Mash' - I can often be seen on Necromancer Games, ENWorld and Randomlingshouse, with a rare excursion onto I'm spending less time on these now as I'm trying to spend more time gaming and less writing about it, and I've got a heap of scenarios I want to work on which take time to write up.

On friday I finally saw the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy movie, first impression - not as I feared, and reasonably good at trying to get a stab at the spirit of the radio shows and books, but lacking the digressions that really added to the humour. So watchable, but not brilliant probably about a six out of ten, I liked Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent as he is probably the ideal everyman type actor and the cameos from Simon Jones and the original Marvin were nice to see. The special effects were ok, and the change in the plot to make the Vogon's more directly threatening probably was needed with a stand alone movie.