Fireflies & Laserbeams

Dungeons & Dragons & Money, Oh My

Wednesday July 24, 2019 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

[caption id="attachment_1505" align="alignleft" width="341"]clint-bustrillos-X-A-LJVAhzk-unsplash Photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash[/caption] I have always loved gaming, of pretty much any type, but when I was a kid Dungeons & Dragons was just becoming a thing. If you live in a cave and have no idea what D&D is let me briefly explain. It is fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). Which, by the way, I did not know what TSR stood for until 30 seconds ago when I googled it. The advanced version came out between ’77 and ’79, and I still have my original copy of the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Player’s guide (1st edition.) A role playing game is basically structured make believe. You create a character and the Game Master, or in this case the Dungeon Master, is the storyteller that guides the players along a preset plot. It varies greatly by who the DM is and can be very open ended or very limited, depending on their skill level, available time, and the amount of effort they are willing to put into it. I’ve had good ones and not so good ones. TSR actually made different level dungeons that required very little prep for the DM, but the really good ones were made by the DM. When I was in college back in the early 80s, a friend of mine from California told our group about the DM he grew up playing with and the guy was prolific. My friend actually had a 105th level Magic User. They played A LOT. I can’t really even relate to that. But just know that they are out there. I can’t remember exactly when I started playing. I think it was maybe at the end of junior high, which would have been right around 1978. My group of friends weren’t really into it all that much, but I did teach a few of my track teammates how to play, and if you have been involved with track you will understand the enormous amount of downtime you have at a track meet. We played in the stands while we waited to run our event. I did find a group before I graduated that showed me what it could be, my first really good GM, who was a great storyteller and extremely imaginative. He was incredible. I also played an RPG called Traveller, which is science fiction based. I loved playing that game more than D&D, and ended up buying a lot of the supplements for that game in the decades to come, but I never found a group to play with after I left home in 1982. Sad face. Freshman year at the Air Force Academy we were not allowed a lot of freedom to get off campus, so a bunch of us that had played in high school got together and started playing D&D. We took turns making dungeons for each other, and it was my first time Dungeon Mastering. Really my first foray into writing, when I look back. After freshman year, I found other things to take up my time and I haven’t played a table top version of it since 1983. I have played video versions of it. I played a lot of the Gold Box games that came out in the late 80s and early 90s. I played both variations of Neverwinter Nights. TSR started doing GENCON in 1968. Gary Gygax, the creator of D&D started it in Geneva, Wisconsin, to be a table top gaming get together. It moved to Milwaukee when it got too big for Geneva and then moved to Indianapolis in 2003. You can find lots of people playing D&D and about any other board game you can think of. I have my 4 day pass in hand. Wizards of the Coast bought TSR in 1997, and have been making AD&D since then. It is currently on 5th edition rules. It has made a big comeback in recent years and I just heard a piece on NPR Marketplace on my way to work yesterday morning and went down the rabbit hole. People are getting paid to Dungeon Master. Upwards of $500. My two eldest children are in a group that play via Discord. It has a dice rolling app included. Here is a link to the Marketplace piece. And here is a link to a piece on Bloomberg Business Week.

“Nerd culture, Stranger Things, and the gig economy have created a world where Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts host games for $500.”
A good Game Master is worth their weight in platinum, and people are willing to pay to have a good one. They do birthday parties and business conventions for team-building activities. Or simply host new players to show them how the game works. The good ones are booked months in advance and have a waiting list. Amazing. It’s funny. I kept all my gaming accoutrements for more than thirty years, hoping that one day I would be able to pass them down to my kids. I did that, but they were much older when they finally discovered that they liked it. I ended up just passing my books over. The great thing that has happened, though, is my youngest son decided he wanted to play Star Wars the Role Playing Game. We bought a few books and he learned the rules and developed his own storyline. We play most Saturday evenings now, with most of my kids and my wife and I. He is an incredibly intuitive GM. He could probably be one of those people that make money on the side if he decided to play D&D. But in the meantime, we have a blast playing SWRPG with the family, truly fun and hilarious times. Do you have a game you enjoy? How did you get started?

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Gamer for life

Monday July 8, 2019 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

Caldari fleet - 1920x1200I have always loved playing games. Doesn’t matter the format. Board game, card game, video game, sports, like whiffle ball, golf, two-hand-touch football, basketball, all the games. From my earliest memories I have loved them all. Well, that’s not true, there are some that bored me, like Candyland. Played that a thousand times with my kids when they were little. But for the most part I have enjoyed playing games all my life. When I was a kid I would cajole my brother to play with me. He would until he lost. That was usually the last time he would play that game. He just wasn't all that interested in playing games. So, I would often lose on purpose to get him to keep playing. Pathetic right? I have bought tons of supplement books for games I never played. I still have my second addition AD&D books. I played a lot my freshman year in college. The spine is taped together. I have boxes of books for Traveller and Vampire the Masquerade. I started playing video games from the beginning, with pong. We have an Atari game console and Sega Genesis, GameCube and PS2-4. Lots of handheld games as well. Are you old enough to remember going to the Game Arcade? I spent hours and hundreds of dollars there. Then the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) started. We played the first one on America Online. It was an AD&D Gold Box game that they converted to allow a whopping hundred people on the server simultaneously. Then Meridian 59, Ultima Online, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest 2, World of Warcraft. Eve Online, and many more. I missed a few, especially now. They keep proliferating and I don’t have the time, nor the energy to devote to all of them. That’s not even talking about all the great single player games that came out, like Diablo in all of its incarnations, Earth and Beyond, Homecoming, Star Wars Outcast Jedi Knights games, all of the Star Wars games. So many good ones over the years. Some of my kid’s earliest memories are sitting on my lap while I played a video game. My youngest son was typing in cheat codes for Jedi Outcast before he could read. My eldest daughter is a guild master for Final Fantasy. My eldest son just got a degree in game design. I rubbed off on them, unfortunately for them. It continues to this day. I still enjoy playing card games and video games and even role-playing games. Currently I am regularly playing Eve Online (still, going on ten years) and Star Wars the Role-Playing Game: Edge of the Empire. I also started playing Munchkin CCG, with my sons. I actually gave up playing games while I was working on my MFA. I don’t think I played a game for three years. I am looking forward to The Outer Worlds. I will probably give that a try. I am back to dabbling with Guild Wars 2 and even a variant of City of Heroes. I try to limit my time playing games now, so I can do more productive things, like write. What are your favorites? Is there something coming out that you are looking forward to?

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