Someone asked me recently what it would take for me to “quit D&D.” By which they mean the AD&D system, not ‘gaming in general,’ because I would get quite surly about that nonsense. I have been ruminating about it for a while, and I was surprised at how much my initial reaction was against the idea.
There’s a lot of my sense of culture and belonging linked more to gaming than it ever was to a location-of-origin, or religious upbringing, or any other anchors that people normally use for their self-labelling. That means I get a lot of the baggage of being “a gamer,” too. The stereotypes that make us laugh and cringe are the stereotypes of “my people.” (The song of my people starts, “This one time in a game…” with the chorus of, “Let me tell you about my character…”)
When I say I’m a third generation gamer, that’s third generation D&D. I’m still “stuck in the age of THAC0,” in a lot of ways, and yes, I realised that I haven’t supported (monetarily) anything Dungeons & Dragons specific since that really bad interaction with 4th Edition. (It had a lot of really, really neat ideas, but the OS was not backwards-compatible.) I have adopted a little bit of absorbed 5th edition items just because, well, I’m on the internet, but it’s still worked into my mental structure.
My games have been mostly horror, and where killing things is almost never a source of xp for decades. We joke about “detect racism” being a spell in my games, but it hasn’t been hard to detect. (“Just add Tiefling!”) This is purposeful: if I want to play the kind of game where you kill everything that moves and loot everything you can carry, I’ll play Moria. Black Lives Matter, and we don’t mean Drow.
Last year at BigBadCon I ran an AD&D adventure I’d written for a friend, about “Sun Scouts” who deliver the cookies the dark side espouses. We mostly play AD&D amongst ourselves and our friends. (I want to keep them as friends, so we haven’t really pushed playing Amber.) Our “family game” is AD&D. There’s a lot of truth in the statement that we don’t play D&D because we aren’t playing “the rules” but let’s be honest, the DNA is there.
We do play other games, and even outside the sunk cost fallacy I am not suggesting abandoning the campaigns I’m in because there’s so much more involved — there’s the camaraderie, the history, the friend-group culture. I’m getting a lot more out of the gaming than the system. The system isn’t even in the top ten considerations.
…but, I may stop playing D&D. There’s been a lot of good reasons why. For me it will probably look like no longer running new games of it, of cautioning my friends and fellow adventurers about why they might consider the same, and maybe I’ll start focusing on writing scenarios for other games.
I mean, Nightlife is still– yeah, 40 years in the past. [snort]