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 I was a Teenage Half Orc

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Kilsek
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PostSubject: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:42 pm

I Was A Teenage Half-Orc
D&D lives on, after all these years.
By John J. Miller


I remember exactly how it started: When I was a fifth grader, my mother encouraged me to read The Hobbit. So I did, and J. R. R. Tolkien's book filled my head with visions of wizards and warriors and dwarves and elves and goblins. A little while later, Mom drove me and a friend to a local toy store, where some guy was teaching kids to play a new game. It was called Dungeons & Dragons.


This weekend marks D&D's 30th anniversary — Saturday is Worldwide D&D Game Day, and in a couple of weeks we'll see the publication of a retrospective book, Thirty Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons.
More on that in a minute. First, let me take a quick trip down memory lane.
During middle school, D&D was a big part of my life — and I mean a really big part of my life. No, I didn't put on chain-mail costumes or speak in a phony English accent because it sounded authentically medieval. But I could tell you the armor class of a minotaur and discuss fourth-level illusionist spells in impressive detail. And, at least for a while, it didn't occur to me that any of this made me a geek.
Isn't that how so many people think of D&D — as a pastime for pimply misfits? I recall that as I got older, a kind of social stigma descended upon the game. It just wasn't something for the in-crowd.
That's too bad, because there's a lot to admire about D&D and what it can do for kids by encouraging them to read, do math, and think creatively. A lot of my friends — the ones who didn't play D&D with me — raced home from school and turned on Woody Woodpecker cartoons. I was more likely to crack open my Dungeon Master's Guide and memorize how many gold pieces it took to buy a cloak of invisibility. Or perhaps write an adventure scenario, which I would call "The Isle of Doom" or somesuch. Or read a book about castles or catapults or Roman legions.
Then my family moved, cutting me off from old D&D companions. I did get a game going every now and then in high school, but it wasn't the same. Besides, I was growing up, and becoming increasingly concerned with what girls thought. I knew with utter certainty that they didn't want to hear about how my paladin character had earned a bunch of experience points for raiding a lair of bugbears.
Yet I've remained nostalgic about D&D. I still have a box, stashed away in the recesses of my basement, that holds a Player's Handbook, a Monster Manual, and, of course, the DMG with that big red monster on the cover. Duct tape is the only thing keeping these battered volumes together. Stuffed into the box with them are a collection of adventure modules, stacks of character sheets, and folders full of carefully drawn maps of cities, kingdoms, and worlds that have existed only in my imagination. It's a pretty big box, this one. And no — as I inform my wife every year or two — I won't get rid of it.
That's because I've long harbored a secret notion in the back of my mind: Wouldn't it be awesome to get a game going again?
There. I've said it. If you feel an urgent need to call me a big loser, I'm ready to take it like a man.
Dungeons & Dragons is quite simply an outstanding game, featuring players who use their imagination to solve puzzles and roll dice to slaughter fiends, all under the watchful eye of a Dungeon Master. The game has no winners or losers — a revolutionary concept that has left a heavy imprint on a generation of software designers. Happily, competition from computers didn't kill off D&D. Today, the traditional game is enjoying a Renaissance, following what might be considered a period of Dark Ages.
"More people play Dungeons & Dragons now than ever before," says Charles Ryan, D&D's brand manager. "Every year, we sell more copies of the Player's Handbook than we did during the 1980s."
Mind you, this isn't the same Player's Handbook. D&D is now in its third edition. Technically, the current set of rules is called version 3.5.
So what's the difference between the D&D of the 1980s and the game of today?
"Actually, it's easier to talk about what's the same," says Ryan. "The core experience remains one of playing characters who go on adventures."
Flipping through the Player's Handbook v.3.5, I see what he means. So much of it rings familiar, with ability scores (strength, wisdom, dexterity, etc.), character classes (fighters, rangers, clerics, etc.), and character races (those short, hairy-footed fellows are still called halflings, because the name "hobbit" remains copyright protected).
But there are some significant differences — or what might more accurately be called improvements. "We now have a unified d20 system," says Ed Stark, D&D's creative director. "In the old version, you used to roll different kinds of dice at different points in time. Sometimes you needed to roll high and sometimes you needed to roll low. Now, major task resolutions almost always begin with the roll of a 20-sided die and a high roll is always good." The other dice — four-sided, six-sided, etc. — still come into play, but the d20 is central to everything.
There's another important innovation. "We learned a lesson from Microsoft and opened up our system," says Stark. "Anybody can use it."
When TSR owned D&D in the 1980s, the Wisconsin-based company wouldn't let competitors create products for D&D. One of my favorite supplements was called The Free City of Haven — but it was put out by a separate company and conformed to a separate set of rules, which I promptly converted for my D&D purposes. TSR's licensing restrictions ultimately led to something of a creative impasse and contributed to the game's popularity hitting a plateau in the late 1980s and 1990s.
The trading-card game market also cut into D&D sales. In 1997, Wizards of the Coast (the maker of Magic: The Gathering) bought TSR, moved its employees to Washington state, and began reviving D&D. (Two years later, Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast.)
"We've really got our act together now," says Kim Mohan, who started working at TSR in 1979 and has remained with D&D through its ups and downs. He's especially proud of the way the rules have evolved: "We know how to couch them to avoid or eliminate confusion, make the learning curve shallower, and communicate ideas clearly and consistently."
By all appearances, the modern game looks sophisticated and — I'm not kidding here — totally cool. It doesn't hurt that the forthcoming book on D&D's history, Thirty Years of Adventure, includes a foreword by actor Vin Diesel and short essays by celebrity D&Ders such as Stephen Colbert of the Daily Show and musician Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies. Those guys definitely make my cool list.
I'm especially intrigued by D&D's new campaign setting, Eberron. "This is the first campaign setting we've created from the ground up, using third-edition rules," says Stark. "It's a unique world where magic functions like a pre-industrial revolution technology and wizards are a part of the economy. Eberron has just survived a big war, which we've likened to our own First World War. Enemy nations have abandoned the battlefield for cloak-and-dagger conspiracy."
If I hadn't made plans to spend Saturday on the soccer fields — or, I should say, on the sidelines of soccer fields watching the action — I'd be tempted to participate in Worldwide D&D Game Day. Maybe I'll find a few minutes to stop by my local hobby shop, which is apparently one of the gazillion locations sponsoring some events. Perhaps I'll even pick up a copy of the Eberron campaign setting. You know, so I can look it over and tuck it away in that dusty box of mine. And when my kids are big enough, I'll be ready and eager to be a Dungeon Master again.

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:23 pm

A nice article, but who is John J. Miller? Should I know who he is?
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Kilsek
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:32 pm

A news correspondant. No one real famous.

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:50 pm

Half-orcs, as I remember were not permitted back then. I never got to play one until I was 14, so this guy might have to re-check his sources. There was no Berserker or Anti-Paladin yet either.

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Kilsek
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:55 pm

Give Sir Bozak some extra EXP. There are some other inaccuracies in that article. The reason I posted this.

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:57 pm

I still see 6000 XP, hehe :)

P.S: Reading it, I do see a lot of mistakes....
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:52 pm

Strange, the DM's Guide that he's describing sounds like the old AD&D version--and Half-Orcs certainly were playable back then. They were the only race that didn't advance infinitely in Thief, they were only Unlimited in Assassin.
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Tue Mar 06, 2007 11:00 pm

Really ? I was not able to play an half-orc before well-into 2nd edition. It could have been the DM, though. I will check back in my compendiums. I know DL allowed you to play Minotaurs, Lizardmen and many race variants ( Wild Elves ruled ! ).

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:02 am

Heh, back in the day of the action figures (Strongheart, Warduke, et al.) there was a Half-Orc assassin whose name currently eludes me.

Well, at least RPG Net agrees with me... Wink
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:09 am

Well,I was mistaken.Sorry.

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:40 am

No biggie. I just thought I'd offer up some evidence that supported my recollection. It's as much for myself as for anyone else.

I've been known to remember some pretty strange things that never happened as well as not remember some pretty strange things that did happen. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:48 am

I remember my first CN Half-Orc,He Carried Around Kive Cats In His Backpack For Food,LOL

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Fri Aug 03, 2007 1:43 pm

I enjoyed the article. Regardless of innacuracies, I enjoy reading about other people's experiences regarding D&D. What got them into the game, why they kept playing, why they quit, favorite stories, etc. Hence why I ended up dropping so much on the 30 years of D&D Very Happy (great book by the way, I highly recommend it if anyone has it lying around. It's become my only "coffee table book" I'd care to own.)
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:33 pm

Very enjoyable read...I wonder how many inaccuracies I'd have in my own retrospective, were I to pen one?
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Wed Aug 08, 2007 7:02 am

Pinky Narfanek wrote:
Strange, the DM's Guide that he's describing sounds like the old AD&D version--and Half-Orcs certainly were playable back then. They were the only race that didn't advance infinitely in Thief, they were only Unlimited in Assassin.

Old school 1st edition, ys baby. :move:
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:50 pm

Oh, yeah. I'm old school all right. Not "original school" but olde schoole!

Ahh, I remember Dieties and Demigods when it had Cthulu in it!

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:20 pm

Bah, Old School means Dwarves, Elves and Halflings were classes.
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:18 pm

I remember when I first started rooting through my dad's old modules and sourcebooks, and didn't know there were multiple editions. What? Elf's a class and a race? I wish I would have kept my lvl 1 Elf Elf. I would have scanned it and put it up. It seemed appropriate at the time. Elves would make better Elves than any other race Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:49 am

lol~that seems like a Pinky statement

"Elves would make better Elves than any other race"

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PostSubject: Re: I was a Teenage Half Orc   Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:56 pm

Wraithborne wrote:
Bah, Old School means Dwarves, Elves and Halflings were classes.
Razz
I remember that as well.

It took me a little while to figure out that there were two versions (Basic and Advanced). I had wondered why the one was called "Advanced" and was never quire sure (at least for the first few weeks I owned the Basic Set) when you moved from Basic to Advanced. There didn't seem to be an established boundry... :roflmao:

Hey, now! Not everything I say is incoherent!

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