- Our games tended not to revolve around one character per player. In fact, that was something of a rarity. I think this may have been because in those days we spent just as much, if not more time, playing games like Blood Bowl, Necromunda and Warhammer Quest, and so we were used to identifying with little gangs or teams of adventurers rather than individuals. We would often have three or four characters each in our campaigns, which could get hectic when you had four or five players.
- As a consequence of the above, there was quite a high level of abstraction between player and character in our games. We never did voices or spoke in character - everything took place in the third person. ("Bill attacks the orc", "Siegfried says 'I'll kill you!'".) And we tended not to care much about character death. If anything we behaved like rather dispassionate Gods watching a Greek tragedy unfold than active controllers of personal avatars.
- Perhaps as another consequence of the above, our characters used to kill each other quite a lot. Not as often as they cooperated, mind, but backstabbing, doing-down and even outright hostility was par for the course. We were adolescent boys, which certainly also helped fuel this.
- We loved plotting things out on maps. In fact in my memory we sometimes devoted entire gaming sessions to working out routes from city x to mountain y, and cooperatively drawing up random encounter tables of the creatures which one might likely find on the way, weather generators for the journey, major wandering NPCs whose path one might just cross, roadside locations, and possible points at which a traveller might become lost.
- There were certain eccentric minutiae in the DMG which we loved and incorporated wholesale, even while ignoring whole strands of what you might call 'major' rules. For example, the AD&D 2nd edition DMG has an entire set of random generators to determine the personality, quality and character of a horse. We used this obsessively with every single horse that ever appeared in our games. And yet we never bothered with something as simple and basic as encumbrance.
- We had a rule that you weren't allowed to be an elf.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
I was thinking earlier today about the games of D&D my friends and I used to play "back in the day" (perhaps partly inspired by Brian's post about Neo-Classical gaming and social archaeology). Now that I look back in detail on that era, trying to remember as many things as I can about it, it occurs to me that there were quite a lot of characteristics of our games that just didn't fit with a lot of what I read about in blogs and forums when people start talking about actual play. This shouldn't be surprising - just as people from one small village in a valley in the Caucasus mountains speak a different language to those in the next, purely because of geographical isolation, so insular gaming groups will undoubtedly develop their own little "dialects" of play. Here are some examples: