Welcome to the Dork Tower weary traveller. Come
freely, go safely and leave some of the happiness you bring.
Gaming. An innocuous enough word but one which can conjure up terrifying images of sweaty single men who wear Coke bottle glasses and
genuinely believe that if they met Sarah Michelle Gellar their minute
knowledge of Buffy would have her naked faster than the time it takes to
fail a DC25 Climb check while wearing full plate armour.
Luckily this stereotype is (mostly) untrue – I, for example, wear quite tasteful glasses and have actually managed to marry a real live woman – the aim of this column is to show that gaming can be an amusing and stimulating diversion, and I shall achieve this aim by rambling on about anything and everything game related1.
1st Edition AD&D
What is it about 'retro' that grabs us so? Be it the 'punk chic'2 available in the high street or the constant re-releases of 'classic' TV shows.
Personally I think it's because we are indoctrinated from an early age
that the old days were better, in many cases this was true... music was
better, films tended to have more plot than special effects... in gaming, however, this is not usually the case and 1st Edition AD&D is a perfect example of this.
You see, just before Christmas, I had a bit of a retro-frenzy and bought the three core 1st Edition AD&D books (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual), a bargain at £15 for the lot. Now, don't get me wrong, AD&D was a great game - without it the gaming community probably wouldn't exist at all – but the original core books were, to put it bluntly, s**t. The rules3 are largely unfathomable and in many cases simply don't work - and don't get me started on the illustrations... the cover art on all three books is very nice4 but the internal illustration is appalling, especially in the Monster Manual. There are only two well-drawn pictures in the Monster Manual; one of them is of a Rakasha, and the other one is of a Succubus. Now, the Rakasha picture is so good that it's still used in books and magazines today, but the Succubus is only well-drawn because it was obviously traced from a porn mag and then had wings added.
Anyway, rant over for now... for all their failings the 1st Edition
AD&D books are still a valuable addition to my collection as they
provide a nice sense of completeness.
Now, wargamers rarely do it5 and you certainly don't catch people doing it
while playing Monopoly6. I am talking about that most disturbing phenomenon of the gaming table... Dice Training. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
- Case #1: The Theory of Gravity – At first glance Case #1 seems like a very normal person. He is a chirpy Welshman who used to be in the Royal Engineers but when confronted by small, numbered polyhedrons Case #1 begins to enact a bizarre ritual. Having heard that windows are slightly thicker on the bottom due to the action of gravity on the glass7 Case #1 has applied this logic to dice. Before the game starts he will make sure all the dice he has chosen8 are carefully placed in a row with the highest number uppermost and, after each roll, the dice are placed back in the row with the highest number uppermost. The jury's still out on whether this actually works.
- Case #2: Punishment Detail – Case #2 also seems to be a normal individual. He lives in Swindon, works in an office and regularly posts on h2g29. Case #2 is usually very unlucky with his dice rolls10 and has taken to punishing dice that consistently make bad rolls. These punishments include (but don't stop at): precariously balancing the die on a high shelf, putting it outside in the rain and putting it in the freezer. At the time of writing Case #2's dice rolls are still terrible.
- Case #3: Boot Camp – Another seemingly normal11 human being. Case #3 has taken to 'warming up' his dice before a game. Any dice which consistently fail to roll equal to or above a desired figure are replaced and the warming up begins again. Bizarrely enough this seems to work.
Next Time: Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play and the Gentle Art of
LARPing... assuming I don't find something more interesting to go on