I discovered The Order of the Stick about a month ago (with this episode, to be precise), and was immediately hooked. It’s got great plots, character development, action and adventure and tons of humour. Half of that is the hilarious metagaming dialog which spoke to right to my geek heart. All this talk of hit points and +5 modifiers and levels by the characters themselves took me back to those long-ago gaming Dungeons & Dragons™ sessions I played with my brother M and a few friends. Ah, memories: the rattle of the dice, the scribbling on character sheets, the memorizing of monster stats, pretending we were wizards or paladins or thieves… Good times, good times.
We started playing around age 8, even before the (1st Edition) Advanced D&D came along. I remember our first couple of games, on our grandfather’s dining room table. Good old module B2! We played with our older brother and dad—who’d introduced us to the game and bought the module and dice. He never wanted to play himself, and bowed out as soon as we found gaming groups of our own. M and I played for more than a decade (and two editions), up until our early twenties when the last of the old gang moved away. I didn’t mind not RPGing anymore, since by then I’d come out of the closet and finally had a bit more of a life. Still, it was fun while it lasted, and I got to flex a lot of my creative muscles. Plus, let’s face it: there aren’t that many social outlets for awkward teens with hyperactive imaginations, and I’m grateful to our parents for, first, introducing us to the game, and second, ignoring the fundie-driven “D&D is Satanism” hysteria that flared up in the 80’s.
But though I haven’t felt like playing since, I do get nostalgic. Now, we used to read Dragon™ magazine for most of our gaming life. Dragon had excellent articles on many RPGs (not just D&D), art, modules, short stories… and comics in the back pages. After devouring the OOTS archives, I suddenly had a hankering for those long-ago comics.
What’s New? with Phil & Dixie lasted only a few years, delighting readers with its hilarious commentaries on games and the gaming world. The creator, Phil Foglio, has been keeping busy: check out the terrific steampunk adventure Girl Genius.
Yamara started in the late 80’s and apparently kept going for a bit after we let our Dragon subscription lapse in ’93-94. It was also chock-full of metagaming dialog, with this strip being the best example. And yeah, we totally did that too. Or would have, if our DM’s had introduced this kind of mystery monster.
And Wormy. A beautiful, intricately drawn story about a cranky cigar-smoking dragon, that ended abruptly in the late 80’s. Gremorly the wizard and Solomoriah the winged demon cat kicked all kinds of ass; I believe the July ’81 strip was my introduction to the story—and what a strip it was!
No trip down memory lane would be complete without a nod to Dungeons & Dragons, the TV show. Actually, more than a nod. I recently got my hands on the entire show on DVD, and I’m happily making my way through all the eps. I loved the show when it came out, and it still holds up pretty well. The voice talent is only so-so, the dialog was kind of clunky and (this being an 80’s kids’ show) full of “morally uplifting” messages, but that’s okay because the visuals are what I signed up for, then and now. Venger on his nightmare is still an awesome sight, as is Tiamat and pretty much all the various creatures and places the children see. The animators did a top-notch job of adapting to the screen the fantasy monsters I was already familiar with, and I can tell they had a lot of respect for the source material. Which is more than I can say for the losers responsible for that similarly-named abomination. Bleah.