Thursday, September 11, 2014

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!


     Hello one and all Shadow fans and welcome back to another installment of the Shadow Knows. This week has been crazy for me and my family. Between first week of school and getting paperwork together for insurance on my wife's accident the week has been crazy. So now here I am posting another late blog post. Late heck, here we are one week later. Well that is just the way it is sometimes with life. One day you're eating steak and potatoes and the next thing you know the steak and potatoes are eating you. I tell you what that is just dog eat dog. Or is it potatoes eat cows? Well not really, I don't want P.E.T.A. on my butt here. Now that would be all I need... So that is really just what the Shadow knows today. That when you are not watching life can come up and bite you in the butt like a great big snake man. Let me tell you when a snake bites you in the butt you really know it... ouch! So now onto How I Geek with Greg and the gang. This week is our top 5 fav action movies. There will only be 3 of us this week and so it shouldn't take us long to burn through that. But hey, you never know with us. So come check us out for some car chases, boulder rolling, shoot-out, fight scene. excitement. Yep that is what we did last week alright. So this week, we are doing 80's TV shows. You know another top 5 as it were. We are also having our How I Geek cook out Saturday. Greg says he doesn't think we can record open mic that day. I think my friends we can and it would be glorious. WE shall see what happens. So now like Aquaman returning home let us dive right into the action of this weeks crazy, mixed-up, blog-crafting excitement... shall we?

     So as promised we are diving right in with a month of role-playing/gaming. I have been a bit removed from that which is role-playing awesomeness and wish I had another group to play with, but alas I digress. Up for your ocular pleasure is Dungeons and Dragons. This game, originally known as Chainmail started as a small boxed set containing a series of three pamphlets. The game was the brain child of partners and friends Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and published in 1974 under the flag of Tactical Studies Rules inc. (TSR). This is really the game that started it all. Up until this time most games were either regular old board games or table top miniatures strategy games. From this single game an entire genre was born. As this game took off it grew and expanded in many different ways. One of the first was dividing it into two sections. First was basic D&D and it was played with a very basic set of rules. Second was Advanced D&D or AD&D and this was of course played with a more advanced rules set. With this twist in the rule set D&D grew and grew with greater popularity until 1989 when AD&D became AD&D 2nd edition. This is the point where I jumped onto the band wagon and my life was forever changed. At the time I had no idea that 2nd edition had just come out. Nor was I aware of how the other editions played. At first I was not even aware that the game was in two parts with basic and advanced forms of play. What I do know now is what D&D gave me in the friendships that I still carry to this day. One of the big draws for me was how inexpensive it was to get into the game. The rules were a bit complicated, but once learned and mastered were easy to maintain. The one flaw of course being the Thac0 system, or To Hit Armor Class Zero. Since zero itself was counted as a number (of course it should be it is after all) instead of starting with one it  would throw the calculation off by one. It made things a bit awkward to figure out and as such made for some serious fights at the game table. Nobody wanted to do awkward math. All they wanted to do was play a game. With that one single flaw aside and perhaps some minor ones in between this was a really good system. It was fun to play and the way the system ran it allowed for plenty of imagination in game play. The Dungeon Master ran each game session as kind of a narrator of the tale unfolding before you. A crafty one could handle most situations on the fly without too much hassle. There was never really any reason to change the system, besides of course Thac0. Unfortunately though there would be those who would cause the rains to come.

     Now large thunder clouds came overhead in 1997 when a nearly bankrupt TSR was bought out by Wizards of the Coast. You know the guys who make Magic the Smothering... err I mean Gathering. Once they took over they decided to reinvent the wheel. First came 3rd edition and 3.5 which introduced the world to the D20 system. These editions were not bad, especially since Gygax and Arneson both had impute on these editions. These editions also folded the game back into one with no basic or advanced editions, but rather one edition. The introduction of feats and skills was neat as was making the game license open. This allowed for anybody to make their own world books based on this system. This of course caused a flooding of materials and options to be generated. I still say 2nd edition was more than adequate, but 3 & 3.5 were decent enough. What killed D&D for me was fourth edition. I mean by this point all this game was about for WotC was profit margins. Gone were the cheap rule books and in their place were 50 dollar books that did not give you everything you needed to play the game. Each book only contained like two classes each. It is bad enough to pay 100 bucks for the Monstrous Manual and the Dungeon Masters Guide, but to throw away coin just to get a complete class list for your players was insane. I mean you are talking 100's of bucks here on a role players salary. From what I have seen Of 5th edition it has taken them back to the fundamentals and more complete rulebooks for less money, but I don't think I could play anything beyond 3.5. This company has killed the game for me and I want back my old TSR. Alas with Gygax and Arneson both gone from this cruel world we may never see the return of the glory that was what D&D once was. I know there are those of you out there that disagree and say I am nuts and that is OK. Really though I am more insane then nuts, but alas I digress. If the later editions are your thing I say cool. I hope you get as much greatness and wonder out of the game as I did.

      Now speaking of greatness and wonder I cannot complete the story of D&D without mentioning the great convention that sprang from it's loins as it were. That convention is of course Gen Con, which is short for Geneva Conclave. This name comes from where the convention got its start in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, home of Gary Gygax and the former headquarters of the once great TSR. Started in 1967 (yes before D&D existed) Gary Gygax started this thing as a kind of gathering of gamers and it is through this convention that he would meet his partner in crime Dave Arneson and this coupling would later give birth to D&D. The convention grew every year from it's start until finally the venue had to be moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the MECCA Center. This is the place for all the new and great games coming out to be previewed for all the world of gamers to see. When it was in the hands of TSR it brought me great memories and I met many a great star from Mark Hamill to Ernie Hudson. The swag was bountiful and I believe the atmosphere was stellar. Now since it has passed though the hands of others I see it becoming more about the wallets of the attendees then the fun of the games it is to promote. This is another soapbox issue for me as well. I loved this convention and have attended since 1995, but it has been losing its luster and become quite tarnished for me. Gone is the infamous swag bag. in its place is a coupon book that finds its way into the trash every year. It is pretty much just useless paper better suited for the out houses of the days of yor. Gone too are the SciFi and Fantasy movie greats that would make appearances, promote their latest movies, and sign autographs. There are still great authors and artists to be found there and their work on display is most awesomely killer, but this does not make up for the other losses. Now I know the economy sucks right now and that gaming is more then just about the swag. The thing is this thing keeps growing, you pay 70 bucks to get in for those four days of gaming and what do you get for your money. The right to game at the convention and buy things in the hall. Well I can game and shop at my local gaming store for nothing more then the cost of what I buy. Sure I get to see the new and now, but when all they do is try to push for more of your money to preorder a game that you have no idea will be a success or not this becomes a huge turnoff. I mean my basement is full of by gone games that fizzled and died. Nobody plays them and that is just more money wasted that could have gone elsewhere. I dunno maybe you all see it differently. I hope that there are still those who are having fun in the wonderful worlds created by Gygax and Arenson, but as for me I fear my disillusion has caused me to continue to lose interest in that which I hold most dear. In the end I leave it up to you my loyal readers to decide.

     Well there you have it folks, better late then never I suppose. That is all the time I have left this week for the Shadow knows. I know, I know I said I might post a twofer, but I really don't have time for that today. Perhaps I will post a small segment on something to make up for the lost article. That is if life does not hit me with another right hook. So any who tell me what you think loyal Shadow fans. Is D&D still great for you? Do you like where it has gone? Do you have a favorite class or race? What of Gen Con? Is it still your happy place? I sometimes have to go to my happy place after that horrible mauling I got once from a gazebo. Hey those things can be quite painful and downright deadly. I almost lost an eye... or was it that I just got a splinter in my foot, or maybe that was me being trained by Master Splinter to defeat the foot clan and I was the 5th unofficial TMNT. Who can really say in this crazy, mad, mad, world. Well folks I will see you next time from the Shadows.

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