Friday, November 30, 2012

My Old School Vibe in these Dark Ages

Here's a special thanks to Timothy Brannon, for recommending the d20 Dark Ages over at his blog, the Other Side. Being told that d20 Dark Ages is one of The Best Blogs You Are Not Reading (TBBYANR) really made my day. Thank you.

He also said that my blog has "a strong old school vibe."

I agree, though I don't consider myself part of the old school crowd. What I consider old school happened before I played D&D. I played D&D and I grew up during a time when TSR promoted story and campaign settings, and that's what I focused on for a long time. Dungeon and wilderness exploration were secondary to the stories I wanted to tell in my campaigns. And yet, I often found the material from the "Golden Age" more appealing than what TSR put out in the 1990s, and later what WotC cranked out in the 2000s. As for 4e... well, I don't play it. So, I like and promote old school, but I never was part of the old school crowd.

What further distinguishes me from the old school crowd is nostalgia. The Old School Renaissance is fueled, in part, by the nostalgia these players had toward products (especially modules) produced during the Golden Age. Many of these products have a collective resonance. I don't believe there is a collective resonance of nostalgia for players who cut their teeth on 2e products. Don't get me wrong, I like my AD&D Second Edition stuff and had some fun times with it. But I sense there isn't as much camaraderie between those who were introduced to 2e during the 1990s.

I could be wrong.

Yet, throughout my 23+ years of gaming, I've noticed that the hobby keeps harkening back to the Golden Age, where many of the current movers and shakers originated. What happened when WotC bought out TSR? Greyhawk got resurrected, and published modules like Return to the Keep on the Borderlands and Return to the Tomb of Horrors. For awhile, D&D 3e's mantra was "Back to the Dungeon." Necromancer Games touted "3rd Edition Rules, 1st Edition feel." Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil came out. "The Age of Worms" adventure path in Dungeon magazine based its background on a number of old school sources. With the floundering of 4e, WotC is now, once again, tapping into the Golden Age with both Red Box, and using the Keep on the Borderlands setting with D&D Encounters, and currently with the 5e playtest.

So where does that leave games and gamers from 1989 to about 1997 or so?

Looking to the past, drawing upon its inspiration (hence my Old School Vibe), while perhaps hoping for a better future. Gaming and having fun in the 1990s while TSR did its death spiral. Being lured in by 3e/3.5e but learning that it just isn't quite what we were looking for, perhaps.

I doubt we'll ever see a Return of the Dymrak Dread, or Another Quest for the Eye of Traldar. (Though Night of the Walking Dead seems to have a strong following). I know that people hold a fondness for the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. But I'm not sure if that's because the cyclopedia first introduced them to D&D, or if they liked it because it compiled all of the "Basic" D&D rules.

I do believe that I grew up in the d20 Dark Ages.* And I think that the Dark Ages continue to this day for a number of reasons. This blog is about defining these Dark Ages, and sharing my experiences.

Thank you for reading it!


*As a medievalist, I am fully aware that the proper term for the Dark Ages is "The Early Medieval Period." But the "d20 Early Medieval Period" just doesn't have good ring to it. 


  1. Glad to send people your way!

    I think I was trying to say is that this blog does read like a lot of the old-school blogs out there, just focused on a different time period.

    Post 1989 to about 1999 D&D was a rough time. I played less then than any other time before or since.

    I like that you talk about this time.

  2. Great blog! Looks like I got lot's to read!
    Come visit my blog as well.

  3. @ Timothy Brannan: Well, I had to learn from somewhere. The OSR blogging community is the most vocal, it seems. I've had trouble finding blogs about 2e, those what were hadn't been updated for a long time.

    @ The Dali Trauma: Thank you!

    @ Eldrad Wolfsbane: Thank you! I've briefly visited your blog. I like what I saw. I'm adding it to my Points of Light list.


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