by Ramanan Sivaranjan on June 03, 2013
In October of 2009 my friends and I exchanged a few emails.
Dave: I’ve been listening to the Penny Arcade/PVP/Wil Wheaton DnD podcast and it’s made me really want to try playing a game for the first time since high school. Does anyone else want to give it a shot?
Me: I am totally up for playing Dungeons and Dragons. I have been waiting for this day for AGES.
Patrick: [You guys] attempts D&D without me! 14D20! Saving throw 18D20!
Me: I still have a shit load of second edition books, though I heard that 4th edition is a bit easier to play. (Though, they apparently got rid of THAC0 and other things at some point in time.)
Dave: Yeah, I’m definitely interested in playing. I just got my GST tax rebate back and could totally splurge on the required manuals. Pretty sure I still have HeroQuest back at my parents’ place, so I have a bunch of generic miniatures and dungeon-board pieces that could be used.
Sarah: I have no idea what any of these acronyms mean. I think I’m in trouble.
Dave: It’s just like Munchkin, only with more numbers and acronyms and complicated rules you constantly need to be cross-referencing in a large appendix.
Me: My cousin Jana might be interested. I can check with him and see if he’d want to play. He’s a serious ass D&D dude. He used to come downtown back in the day to play Vampire with goths. Hah.
Dave: One of the guys at work, Andrew, wants to play. He also has a friend who’s interested. That’d be six of us.
And so it came to pass that my friends and I started playing D&D again.
My friend Dave received his GST rebate cheque in the mail and decided to spend his new found wealth on the then new Dungeon and Dragons 4th edition rule books. I had thought about buying the books myself when they were first announced because I too enjoy nerdy things. In the end I couldn’t justify spending money on books I probably wouldn’t use. When Dave said he would run a game that changed and I decided to grab the Players Handbook, the only book players need to play.
I was apprehensive about buying new D&D books because I already owned a metric ton of 2nd edition D&D books. This is the edition that was available when I was much younger. Beyond the core books, I owned a slew of books about Dark Sun, one of the 2nd Edition campaign worlds, and a Forgotten Realms expansion called the Ruins of Undermountain. Considering I was completely broke-ass at the time this outlay in cash for RPG books was ridiculous. I wouldn’t say I wasted my money on AD&D books, but I certainly didn’t put them to much use. I suppose I liked reading about D&D more than I liked actually playing the game. (I suspect this isn’t that uncommon.) I was all set up to run a kick-ass Dark Sun campaign I never got around to running. My new Players Handbook, unlike my 2nd edition books, has seen plenty of use over the last few years.
Playing D&D is arguably the nerdiest thing a person can do. My friends and I are all full-on adults. I had thought that these two things taken together would have meant that finding a group to play with would be hard. This was not the case at all. It was shockingly easy to find people to play a game of D&D. It’s quite possible I just know other particularly nerdy people, but we ended up with 5 players fairly quickly. When other people found out about our game they wanted to join as well. I think we could have probably grabbed 4 more players if we had wanted.
My friends and I would meet at Dave’s place whenever we could coordinate our schedules. Actually getting everyone together was by far the most difficult aspect of playing the game. We would have scheduling Doodle’s that covered huge spans of time, and would find days that worked for everyone once in a blue moon. We’d almost always meet on weeknights because weekends were usually busy, and we often played longer than we probably should. When I broke my leg we shifted the venue to my condo. We still managed to play reasonably often. Then Patrick got married, Dave got married, Andrew started dating a girl, we had a baby, Dave had a baby, etc.
Our 4th Edition game is more or less on hold at the moment, but I think most of us are interested in starting it up again. A lot of people gripe online about how 4th Edition ruined D&D, but it got my friends and I back into a game we hadn’t played in over a decade. I suspect this is true for a lot of people. For that it deserves more praise than I can give it.
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