Roll 10 or better on 2 D8s to make the Obvious Joke

by Kieran Healy on August 20, 2004

BoingBoing reports that Dungeons and Dragons is 30 years old. And it’s still a virgin.

{ 23 comments }

1

Ted Barlow 08.20.04 at 2:23 am

I think Dungeons and Dragons has a girlfriend in Canada.

2

Jack 08.20.04 at 2:24 am

I’m surprised that Dungeons & Dragons is only now thirty years old. I remember spending most of Christmas vacation 1975 playing D&D with my friends, but I have clear memories of the books being quite dog-eared and me being quite late to the game. That implies that my friends were cutting-edge by D&D standards. That very idea is troubling, at least to my self-image.

3

Tom 08.20.04 at 3:10 am

“I remember spending most of Christmas vacation 1975 playing D&D with my friends, but I have clear memories of the books being quite dog-eared and me being quite late to the game. That implies that my friends were cutting-edge by D&D standards. That very idea is troubling, at least to my self-image.”

God knows how you played with the old rules. The rulebooks don’t even make much sense. Maybe it was Arduin Grimore?

Sadder still: I desparately wanted to play D&D as a kid, but couldn’t find anyone in my small high school who was willing to take the inevitable hit in social status to admit to playing it.

And according to this BBC story:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3655627.stm

at one time most US nuclear submarines had a group of D&D players on board.

4

Russell Arben Fox 08.20.04 at 3:32 am

Everywhere you look, there they go, people covering up, denying, playing down, getting ironic about, or otherwise dissing the many, many happy, developmentally important, and way-damn-fun hours they spend playing D&D, AD&D and other role-playing games when they were young(er). Well, to hell with them; give me the unapologetic fan-memories of Holbo, Levy, Burke, and all the great blogsopheric geeks. Dungeons and Dragons was fine, man. I picked it up when I was in 5th grade or so (1979 or thereabouts), from an uncle in Utah. It was, I think, the second generation of D&D rules, before the miserable split-off of “Basic” D&D; it was the blue box, with the cheesy dragon on the cover. My brothers and cousins and I played for years, though only my older brother Daniel and I stuck with it all the way through until college. Whole boxes full of sketched-out dungeons, hexagonal papers, tiny figurines, and of course lots of dice. I look back on our role-playing years with a certain satisfaction; we got into the game, played all the modules, and bought all the junk before TSR went into the crapper. Over the last 15 years or so I’ve occasionally looked in on the state of the game, and wasn’t too impressive; bloated, overpriced rulebooks, too much specialization and not nearly enough fun, from the looks of it. Thank goodness Wizards of the Coast appear to have finally pulled the game together. Daniel and I have always said that if we ever live near enough to each other, we might get the campaign going again. (Yes, I know, we could do it over the internet, but what fun is that? We’re paper-and-pencil players.)

5

Ted Barlow 08.20.04 at 4:10 am

OK, I feel kind of bad now. Some of my favorite people play these games. Just joking around, y’all.

6

Brian 08.20.04 at 4:17 am

Tom – you’re not the only one.

Actually played a few games. Shrug. You know what I really liked though? Reading the manuals. I loved that. I had the player’s guide, the DM guide, and the monster manual of course. Read them cover to cover multiple times.

7

Richard Bellamy 08.20.04 at 4:34 am

I think I can out-lame Tom.

I was the failed nerd-wannabe, who wanted to find kids to play D&D with in 6th grade, but the nerdy kids wouldn’t play with me because I wasn’t any good at it. This pattern continued throughout junior high, as I made the math team and finished in last place in the state-wide finals, and somehow missed the summer where all the nerds got their modems and learned how to program, and it was over a year before I finally got my dial-up modem with Prodigy.

It took well into high school before I realized that I actually wasn’t a nerd at all. Just a normal guy who tested well in school. All those years I could have been hanging out with the cool kids wasted by my nerd-wannabe obsession.

8

John 08.20.04 at 8:25 am

I know, as one in the military, that there are tons of D&D gamers out there. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve found a gaming group. There was a few on my base when I was stationed in Korea, there was one in Saudi Arabia, and there’s a big one here on Okinawa. A lot of gamers in the military and who have been in the military travel with their rulebooks (guilty!) and in some cases even with their miniatures (also guilty!). From what I’ve heard from the Navy guys, most naval vessels have at least one gaming group. My gamer group here on Okinawa has people who play Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, M:TG, Mechwarrior (miniatures and RPG), Deadlands, Vampire, Mage, Shadowrun, D&D, Battlefleet Gothic and spin-off Full Thrust (which lets you take any model of a starship and make rules for it and use it in play), and a wide variety of other games, in addition to occasionally having LAN parties.

Make no mistake, there are a whole lot of military gamers.

9

Simstim 08.20.04 at 9:43 am

The general air on here might be rather dismissive, or at best nostalgic, but RPGs raise a number of interesting issues from a philosophy/social science point of view. For example: modelling society, history and culture; generating an interpretive consensus amongst the participants as to “what’s going on”; how to make fictional worlds “believable”; and the clash between instrumental (“power-gaming”) and other approaches to playing.

10

Scott Martens 08.20.04 at 10:13 am

Or D&D could do what I did and start going out with the DM. Got loads of experience points for that. :^)

11

Andrew Edwards 08.20.04 at 11:54 am

You know what I really liked though? Reading the manuals. I loved that. I had the player’s guide, the DM guide, and the monster manual of course. Read them cover to cover multiple times.

Me too. It’s a very rich world, really, with a complex theology, military and political system, etc. I always prefered mentally describing it, defining its paramenters, and sketching out its full range of possibilities to actually interacting with the players and actually playing the games.

I always found that actually playing involved way too much of the DM trying to prove how much more clever he was than everyone else. Of course, when 9th-graders try to prove how much smarter they are, they don’t create careful and thoughtful puzzles, they create deliberately inscrutable ones.

D&D was for me the realm of people who would look down their noses at me because I didn’t know the exact combination of Lovecraftian mythos and Monty Python quotes that they’d built their “intellectual challenges” on.

Once could look at this three ways:
1) Though engaged by the inner world, I wasn’t nerdy enough to stand playing. This is my preferred reaing.
2) I was so nerdy that I preferred sitting in my bedroom alone reading books about D&D to actually interacting with people.
3) I was exactly the kind of nerd who would want to play D&D, but I just wasn’t smart enough to keep up.

12

Andrew Edwards 08.20.04 at 11:55 am

You know what I really liked though? Reading the manuals. I loved that. I had the player’s guide, the DM guide, and the monster manual of course. Read them cover to cover multiple times.

Me too. It’s a very rich world, really, with a complex theology, military and political system, etc. I always prefered mentally describing it, defining its paramenters, and sketching out its full range of possibilities to actually interacting with the players and actually playing the games.

I always found that actually playing involved way too much of the DM trying to prove how much more clever he was than everyone else. Of course, when 9th-graders try to prove how much smarter they are, they don’t create careful and thoughtful puzzles, they create deliberately inscrutable ones.

D&D was for me the realm of people who would look down their noses at me because I didn’t know the exact combination of Lovecraftian mythos and Monty Python quotes that they’d built their “intellectual challenges” on.

Once could look at this three ways:
1) Though engaged by the inner world, I wasn’t nerdy enough to stand playing. This is my preferred reaing.
2) I was so nerdy that I preferred sitting in my bedroom alone reading books about D&D to actually interacting with people.
3) I was exactly the kind of nerd who would want to play D&D, but I just wasn’t smart enough to keep up.

13

Andrew Edwards 08.20.04 at 11:56 am

Gah! Sorry.

14

belle waring 08.20.04 at 12:13 pm

you all have probably guessed this already, but you know how there was that one girl who played D&D? No? yeah, that was me. D&D rules.

15

CJM 08.20.04 at 1:36 pm

I was fascinated by D&D as a kid, but as everyone raised by right-wing Christians in the 80s knew, those dice made you worship Satan.

16

David Salmanson 08.20.04 at 3:54 pm

The shockingly large numbers of people that played D&D that went on to become academics is indeed a curious phenomenon. But more curious, and undiscussed thus far, is the large number of metalheads who picked up the game once the satanic rumors started. I knew kids in high school who knew the rulebooks inside and out, all the lyrics to every Iron Maiden song yet couldn’t pass their classes to save their lives. They always drove much cooler cars than the more generic D&D geeks too.

17

Njorl 08.20.04 at 6:56 pm

I am always amused about people’s impressions of Dungeons and Dragons players. I met my wife playing D&D, and three other couples who are friends of mine got together through gaming. “Gamers” as we call ourselves, are generally very successful and well adjusted people.

The experience of dealing with artificially constructed fantasy worlds has come in handy considering the state of journalism and poitics nowadays.

18

Tom 08.20.04 at 7:34 pm

“Make no mistake, there are a whole lot of military gamers.”

This thought is chilling to me: our nukes are in the hands of guys who have an imaginary life as Quenog the Wizard on the Quest for the Magic Foozle.

“It took well into high school before I realized that I actually wasn’t a nerd at all.”

But now, with version 3.5, you can truly become a geek. Remember to wash your hair infrequently, never look a person in the face when you’re talking to them, and fake paralyzing fear whenever a woman who isn’t your mum or sister speaks to you.

It’s never too late for a beautiful butterfly to emerge out of their cocoon as an ugly caterpillar.

“you all have probably guessed this already, but you know how there was that one girl who played D&D? No? yeah, that was me. D&D rules.”

Achhh, you were just playing the odds on picking up boys. A woman in the 30% percentile of attractiveness in the real world can easily get a male of 95% percentile of attractiveness of gamer males*.

(*Mind you, being in the 95% percentile attractiveness of gamer males isn’t much to talk about. The odds are good, but the goods are odd.)

19

Kieran Healy 08.20.04 at 8:33 pm

our nukes are in the hands of guys who have an imaginary life as Quenog the Wizard on the Quest for the Magic Foozle.

As any fule kno, Quenog the Wizard was traveling with the elf Barf in the Kingdom of Snarg for the entire duration of the Foozle Quest. Hmph.

20

Marin Thurber 08.20.04 at 9:28 pm

I got hooked on D&D from my older brother, who being a thorough GM, believed that to make a game more immersing it should come complete with hand drawn maps that had been soaked in tea with it’s edges burned and other nifty items for your players to uncover. I, being the younger and more artistically skilled little sister, was called upon to create these jewels of the game. Needless to say I got a taste for the roll of the GM. With the help of my brother’s large supply of reading materials and my own creative drive I enlisted my group of girls friends for a, what I later discovered to be rare, 5 girl gamers group. We had many sleepovers but instead of pillow fights we had sword fights and pretty colored dice. One of the defining moments of our group was after two years of playing with only ourselves we joined efforts with an all boy gamers group for a sleepover campaign of epic proportions. Lets just say we geeked out hard and used sugary substances to keep our constitutions up. Ah the good old days.

21

dsquared 08.20.04 at 11:43 pm

I was actually cool, for about five minutes, for having brought back Dungeons and Dragons stuff from America. But on the other hand 1) only about five minutes 2) this was Wales.

22

Steve 08.21.04 at 1:26 pm

“Battleship Gothic” — ?

I’ve never heard of that one, and I’ve heard of a lot ….

http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=105960#105960

Interesting thread.

23

yabonn 08.21.04 at 11:54 pm

I missed the d&d fad, but the nerdism, the social stigma, the overrepresentation of military guys… We’re talking everquest here :)

As an aside, i think the military crowd in everquest was so important it even shaped some of the lingo. (Confirmation anyone? -if you don’t mind the threadjacking?)

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