Saturday, February 20, 2016

Some thoughts on reading The Dragon

So, I’ve been delving further into the OSR and its origins.  In addition to acquiring PDFs of original rulesets and adventures, I started reading The Dragon from the beginning.  I learn more and more with each issue read.

I never really had access to the origin of the hobby.  My best friend Courtney was my gateway to most things RPG, although there were other avenues.  When he was the DM, we played mostly 2e, which was a grand adventure through the Temple of Elemental Evil (surprising we were running a 1e adventure in 2e).  He had 1e books and a subscription to The Dragon, but most of that was contemporary with the crossover from 1e to 2e.

Reading The Dragon from the beginning resembles archaeology.  I feel invigorated by my discoveries.  Learning new things about a game I felt I knew thrills me.  I think that may be the beauty of D&D; it is so simple to learn and grasp, but so open-ended as to allow a nigh-infinite number of permutations.  I felt I knew D&D, but I am learning it is like a wadded-up piece of paper; tight, small, but with layers and nooks and crannies.

Quick example that taught me a lot about both 0e and the OSR:  The Dragon #17 has an article on page 32 by Stephen Dorneman about angels in D&D.  “There is a need for beings powerful, yet not omnipotent, who would be in the service of the good gods. And so, in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition of D&D, propose the creation of a new class of supernatural beings, Angels.”  Check out what I emphasized in that quote; this is something I have read about on +James Maliszewski's  Grognardia and other old-school blogs.  The traditional interpretation of the cleric is that he is based on Dr. Van Helsing as portrayed in the Hammer films, with a distinctly Christian slant.  The quote also illuminates the cleric as portrayed by +James Raggi in Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Stuff like this is why it is important to look back; not only can you learn about the origins of the hobby, but also you learn about modern OSR decisions.  By no means am I saying the quote is absolute; it is listed as a “D&D variant” article.  Nor am I saying this is why the cleric is the way it is in LotFP.  What I am saying is it helps me understand more about the hobby overall, which, like all knowledge, is invaluable.

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