Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A to Z of How I Learned to Love D&D: A is for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

Follow me as I show you the A to Z of How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Dungeons and Dragons!

Growing up in the late 70's and early 80's, the two Role Playing Games that caught my eye were from comic books and both were published by TSR:  Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Marvel Super Heroes Advanced.

I was intrigued with both, but didn't think I could play either of them because I wasn't "advanced" and didn't know where to start.

This was kind of poor marketing, now that I think about it.

I even remember looking longingly at the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (ADnD from here on out) 1st Edition Monster Manual, but still felt like I wasn't prepared for it--what's worse, I didn't know where to start!

Fast forward to 1991 and my sophomore year at the College of Mount Saint Joseph and I've just gotten into role playing via Champions from Hero Games.

We'd been playing about two months, when we headed over to Richard's apartment to play ADnD.  And I was still uncertain I was prepared for it.  I kept asking if there was a "beginner's version" (there was it was simply called DnD), but was assured I was qualified to play.

You see, after TSR produced DnD, they decided to form a set of rules for tournament play, mostly at conventions, that cut down on the need for individual Dungeon Master's (the person running the game and telling the story and adjudicating the rules questions) to make special rulings or "house rules" and let you take your character to any table for any adventure.  It was called Advanced DnD.  The down side was that some people, regardless of experience, stuck with Basic DnD or like we did at our group's table, merged them both (which was wonkier than it should have been, strangely enough).

But, I wonder how many kids my age that had the same questions I did?  How could they start if they weren't "advanced"?  I mean, essentially, TSR managed to split their market and possibly confuse or even drive off new customers.  I guess thats part of the legacy of a bunch of war-game designers trailblazing a whole new industry?  Or maybe it was just me.

In the end it worked out all right for me and eventually, after Wizards of the Coast bought DnD, they dropped the Beginner/Advanced distinction (although Basic DnD has returned as a free introduction on the web, and the "basic" is designed to offer a faster path into the game, but the uses the same rules).
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