Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I Got for Christmas - 28 Years Ago

Eight days ago was the first anniversary of A Rust Monster Ate My Sword. But I just realized that another anniversary passed or is soon to pass: the 28th anniversary of my first game of Dungeons & Dragons.

It was sometime during Christmas vacation, 1981, that I officially first set foot into "the hobby." With my nephew and my best friend, Brian, I took my first journey of the imagination into a keep on the edge of civilization a few days after Christmas. We didn't make it into the nearby Caves of Chaos that day (in fact, I didn't make into those caves as a player until earlier this year!) but it's an experience I will likely never forget, regardless.

Upon recalling this anniversary, I got to thinking about the presents I received that year. I imagine there were more than the three I recall clearly - most likely a variety of Star Wars toys, very few of which I can mentally track due to the sheer volume I've collected over the years. But these items were the big three that year, and two of them still see semi-regular use to this day:

The D&D Basic Set ("Moldvay" Basic)
This was my introduction to the rules of the game, and will forever be what first comes to mind when I think of D&D. Clean and concise, easy to understand, and oozing with character, the Moldvay Basic rulebook is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of D&D evolution. I'm sure that opinion is based upon a good amount of nostalgic bias, but you have to at least agree that the "red book" is a worthy entry into the game's pantheon of rulebooks. Every time I play another form of the game, no matter how much I'm enjoying it - be it AD&D, the Rules Cyclopedia, 3.x, or even one of the retro-clones - I find myself occasionally suppressing the urge to ditch what I'm doing and pull out the red book...

Grenadier's "Denizens of the Swamp" Set
Prior to Christmas that year, I'd discovered that a local store carried a small variety of Grenadier's AD&D miniatures. I'd never seen game miniatures before and - being in the early stages of D&D mania - found myself coveting each and every set in stock. I managed somehow - I've since forgotten how - to score a set called "Specialists" before Christmas. As the holiday approached, I recognized the need to provide opponents for the heroes in said set, and that's how "Denizens" ended up on my Christmas list. One of the lizard men refused to stand, the basilisk's horn was broken off, and I thought the troll was too goofy for words - but I loved the set, nonetheless; especially the gnoll with the cross-dagger! Alas, I parted with most of these minis several years ago, but I still recall them fondly.

Milton Bradley's Dark Tower
What can I say? Dark Tower rocked, plain and simple. I recall suffering near unbearable angst as my brothers attempted to repair the game Christmas morning; it didn't work out of the box. This was a recurring theme for my childhood Christmases and birthdays, so by 1981 I was more or less used to this scenario. Fortunately, they successfully repaired it. (Much more successfully than earlier Christmases, where such repair efforts often left toys scarred or barely functioning, and less than enjoyable to play with.) When our first attempt to play D&D resulted in a boring session of murdering and looting the bodies of residents of the aforementioned keep, this was the game that we turned to. It was - and still is, when I can get it to function - an immensely enjoyable way to pass the time with friends and family. (And the game's artwork still inspires me.)

I've had the good fortune to have enjoyed many good Christmases as a child, but none seem to stand out so clearly as this one - the "D&D Christmas" of 1981...
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Update

Just a quick note: The Rust Monster blog may be dormant for a while. My father's been in the hospital since the beginning of the week and it looks like he could pass away any day. The blog, therefore, is going to be on hold indefinitely, and if I'm remiss at responding to anybody's e-mails over the coming days or weeks, I hope you'll understand why, and trust that you'll forgive me.

I was planning a big one-year blogiversary post for the 22nd, but it looks like that won't be happening now. In lieu of that, let me just thank everyone for supporting the Rust Monster for the last (almost) 365 days. I especially want to thank Sham aka Dave, Jeff, and James, all of whose blogs inspired me to start this little project and continue to inspire me to enjoy my hobby to its fullest with every post I read.

I hope your holidays are fun and full of joy - I'll see you all again next year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Dungeon World Article on The Escapist

I've been sick as a dog all week (do dogs really get this sick?) so please forgive me if posting's been light (read as: non-existent). This is just a quick update to let everybody know that the latest installment of my "Dungeon World" series for The Escapist's "Days of High Adventure" column is live. It's a micro-dungeon crawl, perfect for a quick pick-up game or just as something to drop into an existing campaign as a side trip.

Enjoy!
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is It Secret? Is It Safe?

Here's something from the scanning project that every good spy needs: a well-supplied safe house. I don't know when I drew this map, but judging from the style and the contents of the armory, I'd guess we're looking at something from around late 1984/early 1985. (I had a small knife collection back in the day and owned one of the black Tekna knives mentioned in the armory contents.)

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