Sunday, August 16, 2009

What Is It About Classic D&D?

Way back when, around the time my friends and I graduated high school, we experienced our first "D&D burnout". We swore off that hoary old system, repudiated its genre conventions, and looked towards the brighter lights of other systems. The less like D&D they were, the better. Alex, our group's other regular GM aside from myself, even went so far as to vow to not run so much as a single session of D&D for a year and a day.

That vow lasted something closer to a week and a day.

Despite our genuine frustrations with the state of the game at the time (this being during the dark years of post-Players Option, "2.5e" AD&D) and the various trappings of classic Dungeons & Dragons, we couldn't stay away from it for long.

I'm finding that that holds true to this day. Gaming-wise, I'm immensely enjoying the two campaigns I'm currently involved in--playing in a solo Pendragon campaign, running a Blue Rose group game--and on the thought-exercise level of things, my mind is occupied by non-D&D matters: planning a future Call of Cthulhu campaign, mulling over my Dragon Warriors/Magnamund conversion and Rifts:2112 project. Yet I find myself irresistibly drawn back to thoughts of pure-strain D&D.

Yesterday is when I realized that this has developed into a real problem; I made my computer desktop wallpaper Larry Elmore's "Waiting for Shademehr". I'm not a huge fan of the chainmail bikini, but what can I say? It works in this picture. When Des saw what I'd done, she sort of chuckled and sighed at the same time.

I like this picture for two reasons (well, three, but I already addressed the first). First, like most of Elmore's classic pictures, he really captured an arresting characterization in the faces of his subjects and the little details of their ensembles. Secondly, and specific to this picture, is that my eye is drawn (after the side-cleavage) to the grand vista sweeping out beyond the characters. It's like they're standing there, beckoning into the picture to join them in their adventures in the great, unmapped Wilderlands beyond.

I suppose the whole picture just sums up D&D's appeal for me; my question is, why this particular genre stew and not others? Perhaps that is an answer we are not meant to know. Just roll the damn dice, as they say.

If you came across this post by chance and would like to learn more about Classic D&D, check out Dragonsfoot and its forums or head over to this link for a whole passel of awesome articles and ideas cranked out by the Old School Rules community!
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