Friday, March 5, 2010

My Life With D&D, Part III

Despite years of holding AD&D2e in very low regard, I'd gotten turned on to TSR's Birthright setting while working at a local game store. I loved that world, but it seemed to me that 2e's mechanics would hold it back from achieving its true potential in actual play. Despite that, when the opportunity to play in a Birthright game came up, I jumped on it, and I'm glad I did, because that game was a tremendous amount of fun, and remains one of the highlights of my gaming history to this day.

TSR was already talking about a third edition of AD&D when the it became obvious to people that the company was doing very badly, and it was widely, in the wake of the company's takeover by Wizards of the Coast, thought that the new system would borrow some of the features of Alternity. But as actual details of what would become known as D&D3.0 began to leak out, it became very clear that some radical changes were in sight.

For me, now steeped in years of Rolemaster and Champions, it sounded like the new edition would actually address some of the issues that I'd felt 2e had failed to fix. And it sure seemed like former Rolemaster writer Monte Cook had imprinted some Rolemaster sensibilities of the game. Once it was in my hands I also recongnized some elements that seemed to have come from Johnathan Tweet's Ars Magica as well.

D&D3 came out right in the middle of our Birthright campaign, and we all saw that it would be a fundamentally better platform for Birthright than 2e was, although it still seemed tied closely to the dungeon experience. For the first time in some years, D&D - now having lost the "Advanced" moniker, was something I wanted to play again.

But play it I did not. Not very much, anyway, due mostly to logistical issues. And when I did play, I was bored to death at the table, with the same guy behind the DM's screen who'd been running Rolemaster to great effect all those years. As a player 3.0 simply didn't work for me.

I think I know why, now. See, another of my many other games I got to taking a shine to was Tweet's aforementioned Ars Magica, which I ran or co-ran for several years, taking occasional breaks for other games. During those breaks I found that for whatever reason, I seldom enjoyed playing anymore - I'd become a pure GM. Oh, I'd sometimes have fun as a player, but a lot of the time I sat at various tables bored out of my mind. I just didn't have it in me to sit on the wrong side of the screen anymore. It had nothing to do with the D&D 3.0 experience that came in near the beginning of that period - it was my own tastes changing.

But I still never ran 3.0. The group I'd landed with was firmly entrenched in Ars Magica, had little or no interest in D&D, and the friendly local game stores that I'd used as networking hubs all went out of business or lost my business for one reason or another, although it would be stretch to say that I was actively looking for a D&D game rather than willing to play one that fell in my lap. I sold off a 3.0 collection that had grown to a bulging shelf and a half. And the game's next revision, called 3.5, went off without me taking much interest.

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