Friday, January 30, 2009

I have trouble remembering just how I played 1E Dungeons and Dragons

I must have been spoiled by all of the cool options in 3.5E, but I have trouble sometimes remembering exactly how I played 1E D&D. There was not much of a mechanic for initiative, so we just rolled a d6.

There were no specific mechanics for movement or squares or special tactical actions that could take place on a grid, so we just sort of positioned ourselves roughly and sometimes had disputes about how far someone could move. We actually didn't often use minis - because there were no formal rules for movement and special actions thereof, we would just draw things out on a board, generally a dry erase board, but sometimes a chalk board At my house, I had a small chalk board we used - at school or in my dorm, there were meeting rooms or classrooms we used with dry erase boards.

Was that old way better? I don't think so. I think I like the much richer array of options and more definite nature of the rules right now. There is less room for dispute about what is going on and there is much more room for making interesting tactical plans and actions. That is fun. That is not to say that we didn't have a blast with 1E. But I guess back then, we didn't really know there was anything better (because there wasn't). I'm not sure I could ever go back and play 1E now, having played 3.5E. For starters, I'm just used to the 3.5E rules now. But it also kind of feels like a step backwards. In some ways, 4E feels like a step backwards, too, removing much of the options that I liked in 3.5E in favor of rigid balance. In that way, I think 4E could be even less fun than 1E, because while there were less options in 1E, it still had a freer (and possibly broken) feel to it. 4E still feels like a straightjacket to me, as I mentioned before.

Still, there are lots of fond memories of 1E. Plenty of nostalgia, too. I loved the art in the old 1E books. I loved the covers. I loved the inner illustrations that had an air of mystery about them, like you were looking at a single frame of a movie that was already in progress. You could guess at the action, but much was left to your imagination. The art in much of the newer books is too anime-like for me, or too cartoonish, or just too much "posing" instead of a cool, dark scene. I think they may be too polished too. The unpolished, black and white pictures in the 1E books just felt more "real" - like someone quickly sketched out the scene as it was actually happening.

I sometimes flip through the old books just for the memories it brings back. I ought to do that more - it will probably inspire me. So much to do, so little time.

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