Welcome to the Duchy of Brandonshire!

Note: This post was originally the first post on my old Gaming blog duke.brandonshire.org. It’s been moved here now that I’ve moved my blogging to this site.

Hello there! Welcome to my first real entry in my newly formed gaming blog.
I’ve been doing some form of blogging for a while now but other than a period in college when I was using Livejournal a lot never very regularly. I’ve been kind of hoping to try to get myself to do it somewhat often though and I think maybe having a focus would help. As my friends can tell you most of recreational headspace has been devoted to tabletop role playing games for a while now so that seems like a good focus to use. Hopefully this’ll be interesting to other people, but even if it’s not it’ll help me to focus down my thoughts on a number of gaming related topics, and improve my writing at the same time.
Anyway, I thought a good way to start might be to recount my history as a gamer. What sorts of games I’ve played and enjoyed and the like. Let’s get to it.

So I started playing RPG’s formally some time around 20 years ago when I
was around 10 or 11. I say formally because I was one of those kids who always loved to play “pretend” games where you’d pretend to be a character (often from some movie I’d just seen or book I’d just read or whatever) and then try to play out different scenarios with friends. Every kid did this but I think I may have continued to do it a bit longer than most kids (heck, I’m still doing it!). Anyway, some of my friends and I had sort of been moving toward formalizing this stuff a bit anyway as we got older, with somewhat more focused play. Eventually, after I bought a copy of the Complete Thief’s Handbook just because it looked cool (I knew very little of D&D then), one of my friends said we should start playing Dungeons & Dragons. He was the youngest of five, so his older siblings had been playing for a long time and he’d been around it for his whole life. He got together four of us and his older brother (to “assistant DM” while he learned the ropes) and started up a game of AD&D 2nd Edition with us. I rolled up a thief.
My Thief’s Handbook went missing sometime over the years!

We played in that campaign with our original characters for years, pretty often throughout middle school, and a lot less frequently in High School. Most of the time we had no idea really what we were doing, and looking back on it I know we were doing some stuff “wrong” (at least as far as the rules are concerned) but we had a lot of fun. I think when we finally stopped (not really a formal thing it just happened at some point) my character was 13th level.
During much of that time we also flirted with a few other games but never really got them going. I had a lot of Rifts books for example, but for the most part we just read the books and made characters. We only played a few times and those sessions were usually not really followed up with anything. The system just didn’t really work for us. Still, I love the over-the-top world of Rifts, and I wish I could find all of my books from that time.

As I said, when we got to High School our role playing kind of slowed to a trickle and eventually stopped. This wasn’t really a conscious decision on any of our parts, I think other things like clubs, sports, and dating and the like simply took up more of our time and pulled our interest in other directions.

I do think we may have had a few brief sessions of 3rd Edition D&D when that came out, enough that I understood the gist of the system and could grok it pretty well when I played the Knights of the Old Republic Star Wars video games which used the basic d20 system, but I don’t really have much in the way of memories of playing much of 3.0, and I can’t fully place when exactly those sessions happened.

Sadly, despite my interest, I never really played much in college. Again, other things go in the way and finding someone who wanted to GM was tough, especially with the generally fairly heavy workload that I and most of my friends had in college.

After college though, a friend and her (then) boyfriend (now husband) wanted to start playing and were kind enough to invite me to play with them in a 3.5 D&D game. We had a great time in that game, playing the same campaign reasonably regularly for roughly 3 or so years. I made a number of good friends that way, some of whom I still play on a regular basis.

As that campaign was winding down 4th Edition D&D came out and I decided to try my hand at DMing. I have one or two entries on my old blog about that that I’ll probably import over here, but the summary is this: I really enjoyed DMing, and 4E made it easy for a first time DM to jump in and get going. I have plenty of issues with 4E, but overall I still enjoy it as a system and still enjoy it as a player (I’m an occasional guest player in a friends 4E campaign).

As you can see in this picture of (the majority of) my RPG stuff, I went a little crazy buying 4e books. It was the first time I really had enough disposable income to buy a lot of RPG books. Though most of them were purchased for a pretty substantial discount thanks to Borders coupons and then Borders closing sales. I’ve bought a fair number of other games and books too in the last few years, but I’ve been cutting back of late.

During that time I also got to try out a lot of other systems in short adventures that were a lot of fun. We played a few sessions using True20, Savage Worlds, Mutants & Masterminds, Gamma World (latest edition) and a number of other systems and games I’m sure I’m not thinking of at the moment.

After the two friends who invited me to play in the 3.5 game moved away, the remaining members of our group merged with another friend’s group and we’ve been playing together ever since. We’ve done a lot of system hopping since then but it’s been a lot of fun. We played a reasonably long Savage Worlds campaign set in Ancient Greece, and a stint playing the Grand Pendragon Campaign in King Arthur Pendragon. We’ve also had some brief sessions playing things like ICONS (which I GM’d!), the DCC RPG (hope to play a lot more of that soon), and Dungeon World.

Most recently we played a bit of Traveller, but found parts of the system didn’t quite work for us, so we blew up the whole thing and restarted the campaign using a hack of Apocalypse World that my friend is continuing to refine. It’s is a lot of fun and the system is working really well for the sort of space stories we want to tell.
And I think that about brings us up to present! This entry has gotten quite a bit longer than I planned it to be so I’m going to cut it short and I’ll pick up later with a bit about what sorts of games I’ve been interested in lately.

Once again, welcome, and I hope you’ll stick around through my self-exploratory rambling until I can get on to some real content! 🎲

Stephen B @DrOct