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Days of yore

I first got started with table top gaming in the fifth grade. We started with Dungeons & Dragons. The blue box. A grade school chum of mine, whom I shall Dan because that was his name, introduced me to this strange world. Dan had two older brothers, and by older I mean we were 10 and they were 16 and 18. They had a good collection of rule books and games and we had nothing, because we were 10 and no one gives a shit about 10 year olds, especially in the 80s. Even a 10 year old scotch got pissed all over during that period. Hooray for the excesses of that era. I digress.

Dan’s brothers had a wonderful assortment of games. We spent hours digging through their collections and trying things out. The one thing I remember most from this time is the importance of rules. Dan and his siblings would drill into you how imperative it was that you played by the rules. That the rules were there for a reason and you were not to contradict them. The written word was sacrosanct. The intention of the game devs was as good as the word of God himself, handed down through the prophets and transcribed for us lowly mortals scratching in the dust and filth. As a Catholic, this resonated on deep level with me.

Dan’s brothers also used these games and rules to punish and torture our characters. Again, as a Catholic this resonated deeply with me. The scenarios they ran for us were brutal death traps for our low level characters. The world was naught but suffering and pain. Of course, their insanely leveled and richly rewarded characters breezed right through them. When it came time to dole out experience, they often passed our characters over because “they didn’t even do anything in that fight.” This capricious and arbitrary system of justice became a pattern during this time.

They also had Warhammer 40,000 and Battletech. When they allowed us to play those games with them, they became hilariously lopsided scenarios where their side was a wall of armor and I was commanding a handful of Space Marines trying to take out a Predator tank with a bolter. Battletech was a row of Atlas clan mechs against a similar number of light mechs with no modifications.

Interestingly, they refused to lay board games with us, I suspect because it would have forced a level playing field. It was months before I spent enough time with their books to figure out they had rigged the world against us. That while the rules were important, they also existed to ensure fairness, and they had been twisted to run counter to that intention. I recall a cold sort of anger at that realization, as the wheels turned in my tiny head. I would like to say I got my revenge on them. That I write this from a room in which their polished skulls gaze mournfully down upon me. The truth is less exciting. I simply stopped playing with them. For a gamer, not having people to play with can be the worst fate of all. Looking back, I really should have been asking the question why the fuck a 16 and an 18 year old wanted to hang out with a bunch of ten year olds. That is… really weird. Like… super weird.

The Weird of the Eternal Gamer

 

Wow, frustrating. I just wrote a bunch of words only to see them mysteriously disappear with a mistype. How encouraging. . .

Oh well, that enables me to tell my story again. Stories get only better with the more they’re told, right? In fact, I could tell you the same story I told you last week and rather than chafe at the familiar and now boring plot, you’d marvel at the continuous improvement in my panache as a storyteller, right? No?

So this story, like all stories, begins in the past. Lamentations of the Flame Princess was my most recently purchased rpg book and hadn’t been in my hands for less than a day when it struck me: if OSR is about recapturing those glory days of yore when AD&D was the bread and butter of our gaming experiences, what games do I, as a now older gamer miss? What would I like to recapture about those times?

I put this thought away, but it was to soon resurface. At my favorite local game store, the Game Depot (which, as an aside, I have been frequenting since before I was in high school which is a testament to just how well they operate to stay open for so long being as how it has been about seventeen years since that time), the proprietor, Dave (who was a guest on a wonderful episode of our podcast if you missed it), had purchased a magnificent collection of old rpg’s from a gamer who for one reason or another wanted to sell his old collection quickly. And so he put those old books on a few of the gaming tables and allowed customers to browse and make offers.

I remember Brendan ended up with a copy of HOL and a few other things. And I found myself face to face with one of my earliest rpg loves: Cyberpunk 2020. And here that old thought about recapturing the things I loved surfaced. That night I walked out with a copy of the core rules, three of the chrome books, and another book for $25. And let me tell you, those chrome books really struck a chord inside me. If you are unfamiliar, the books are actually organized like it is a catalog. They are at their core equipment books. But the layout, which at the time I found so novel and fascinating, was like a catalog with pictures of cool stuff, with drawings of the imagined people of the future modeling the gear in giant shoulder pads and chrome shades. I was hooked.

I have subsequently been scouring a local used bookstore and ebay, getting an old school collection together. I am close to having everything R Talsorian put out for Cyberpunk. And then I thought, what else do miss? Cue a conversation with Brendan in which he mentions an old game I ran back in the day of Corum, which was an alternate setting book for Stormbringer/Elric which was set in another of the Moorcock Eternal Champion Worlds. And here obsession number two was born.

I now own a first edition Stormbringer along with the Hawkmoon setting which I am dying to try out (but I am being good right now and working on my game and not putting too much energy into other games. . . eventually I’ll get there). I have also expanded my focus. I started to wonder what other games from those times did I miss and would have loved? After all, these games are never dead as long as there are books available. I am considering SLA Industries which was a game I skipped. But after reading a write up, maybe I shouldn’t have. Any suggestions about this or another game?

What games from your youth would you like to give another go?

Moar Damn Nurgle Pics or That Asshole Brendan Carrion’s AoS Blog

The_Great_Unclean_One_by_SharpWriter

http://www.tga.community/blogs/entry/237-fields-muddy-with-the-blood-of-the-undead/

Oh man, I really just can’t get enough Age of Sigmar. I swore up and down I’d never go back to GW. I got rid of all my models. I gave away all my paints. I did the gamer 12 steps or something, I dunno.

I was fucking burned forever.

But now, it appears, I am back.

I guess I know how it happened. I’m a romantic sort. I’m the kind who is overly likely to get into a mood and sit around on a rainy day looking out the fucking window and mulling over a broken relationship with a girl who hasn’t thought of me in years. I have a maudlin sensibility in that way.

I think that’s why I ended up in so many goth clubs over the years, listening to brokenhearted songs for brokenhearted people. But even now I’m romanticizing the whole damn thing.

I guess that the truth is that I have a taste for toxic relationships.

Here I was back on my feet after years and years of clean, sober, Games Workshop free living. Ah yeah, it felt good. “Why not play some Infinity?” I thought to myself. “I’m fine. It will be fine. Things are different now. I’m different now.” Classic rationalization.

So I started playing Infinity with Young Dustin the Paladin and Full Metal Ben. The rules are tight. The rules let you do practically anything you think of. The ruleset is dynamic. The model range is great. The model range is attractively affordable. The lore is pretty rad. Narrative play could be a thing.

It was a good relationship! A perfectly fine, healthy relationship. And what did I do? I fucked it all up.

You see I just couldn’t stay away from those damn GW models.

When I lived in LA and I was broke as fuck, I used to go to this walk in clinic where I got free health care because I worked at Whole Foods. The clinic was across the street from a GW store. Of course.

I had to ride the bus back then, I wasn’t making enough money as a grocery checker to support a car. So I would arrive 20, 30 minutes ahead of my scheduled appointment and walk to the clinic, crossing the street and pressing my face against the the glass like some kind of asshole, always thinking “I wonder if I could go back?” Then I would cross back across the street and go to the doctor.

I watched a lot of stuff happen through that window, new 40k boxed sets. The End Times. I made it inside a few times and mostly found it to be as eye-roll inducing as I remembered from back when I thought a hot way to spend Saturday night was to hit up the GW store at the local mall, and then head over to an independent hobby shop called Warboss games after the mall closed. But there were some rad new Chaos models out. Stuff I couldn’t help but imagine in Nurgle’s Rot green, trimmed with Corpse Flesh White.

It was just too damn expensive though. If I couldn’t afford a car inn LA, a city where you need a car to get ahead and bus life kills you slowly, a death by a thousand cuts, I couldn’t afford a Death Guard army (with the Forge World shoulder pads, Land Raider doors and Spaced Armour newb.)

So here I am in the present. I have a girlfriend. A car. TWO dogs. And a job that pays for everything and leaves some money left over to feed my various addictions. And I find myself walking back and forth in front of the Age of Sigmar stuff whenever I’m down at my local hobby joint, Game Depot, in Tempe Arizona.

The thing that kept me out was the thing that kept a lot of people out I guess. GW bungled the rollout in a big way. No one understood the concept of the game. It seemed like some kind of bullshit free for all. All the weird new names, the way that it seemed like there were only going to be four armies. Four pages of rules. It didn’t look like anything I had ever seen before and so, of course, I hated it.

But as they kept rolling out the new armies, books and kits I kept coming back to look. There was definitely something going on here. Something beneath the surface that wasn’t immediately apparent. The game started to reveal itself and I started to get excited.

I ran playing by a couple of the old standby foolios. The guys who were always down back in the day. They were not down. They convinced me for about two weeks that it was a huge mistake. For about 7 days I was educating myself on Kings of War. I almost bought in.

Then one day, I had my buddy Ben Mandall over to record a podcast. Like me he is the kind of guy who is always looking for new games. He’s the kind of guy who is always recruiting. After the episode was in the bag he hit me and Full Metal Ben up. He had a hardsell for Age of Sigmar and he wanted us in. Mostly he wanted someone to split a starter set with him.

From that moment, I was in. I fought it for another day or so, but within the week I was back down at Game Depot splitting a starter box with Mandall.

So, I’m back.  And I’m having a great time. I’m not going to sell you the game. If you want someone to do that I highly recommend Dan Heelan’s podcast Heelanhammer out of the UK. It sold me AoS and now I’m a devoted listener as well as player.

Once you’ve been converted I have two more recommendations for you. While Heelanhammer is probably the best Age of Sigmar podcast. The Black Sun is my hands down favorite. It’s also one of my favorite podcasts, period. I’ll let you mull over the difference, that discussion is for another time.

Also, you should consider giving a listen to The Lost Lighthouse podcast: Age of Sigbrah. Gary talks about Nagash a bit too much perhaps, but otherwise it’s a great show. I’ll put some links below.

So, that’s me and AoS. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

#OnlyTheFaithful!!!

http://heelanhammer.com/

http://theblacksun.co.uk/

The Lost Lighthouse URL defies copying. Connect below:

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Ben’s Random Ramblings Begins!

So, I thought for the first post, I would try to make it apparent who I am in a gaming sense. After all, I will be writing about various gaming related things. This is just a short post to share my bona fides as a gamer if you will. And so I want to share my gaming history with you.

I played D&D for the first time in 8th grade. It was a wonderful experience, but it would be a few years until I played a role playing game again. From my mid high school on, I began to play AD&D, Cyberpunk, WoD, Shadowrun, and anything else I could get my hands on. I have been playing role playing games ever since (approximately 23 years). I am currently working on my own game.

I also have played a lot of Magic the Gathering since high school. When I started playing, Legends had yet to come out (it came out a month or two after I started). I stopped around Ice Age. I came back to the game during Legions and have been playing through most sets since. I have competed on the Pro Tour (made money at the only Masters format Pro Tour in Philly) and made money at a Grand Prix.

I also began miniature gaming right after high school with 5th edition Warhammer Fantasy. I shortly there after began with Warhammer 40k as well during third edition. I have since stopped playing GW games, though Brendan Carrion is trying his damndest to pull me into AoS. Currently, I play Infinity, which in my opinion is the coolest and most challenging miniature game I have ever played.

I thought I would begin with this short introduction as to who I am as a gamer. After all, this should give you a background into my experiences with various systems, etc. as I ramble about them on this blog. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.