My Gaming Biography

I am a 43 year old married man, and I still love gaming.

When I was ten years old I was given the original Red Box set of Basic Dungeons & Dragons. I ran games during lunch times and free periods. It was Dungeons & Dragons that spurred an early and continuing love of medieval legends, mythology, folklore, and ancient history. I never acquired a love for Tolkienesque High Fantasy, however, preferring the weird, unsettling, and gothic.

As a boy I would tinker with the rules of the games I owned, whether D&D or ordinary board games. When I played Risk, it was with rules that added monetary values to owning certain countries, and required players to actually buy armies (and allowed them to call upon air strikes and nuclear weapons!)

In High School I ran an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign heavily based on early 16th Century Europe. No one wanted to play a hero, but somehow the characters managed to keep the game world from being destroyed. Mostly so they could spend all the treasure they’d acquired.

Of course, the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons I ran was heavily house-ruled and modified. I was already experimenting with story-driven gaming sessions.

Out of High School and into my twenties, I found myself running intricately plotted games of Vampire: The Masquerade. The gaming group was equally male and female, and game play was mostly live action. Players wore costumes, and we used a lot of props, soundtracks, and special lighting effects. Games didn’t begin before dusk, and always ended at dawn.

After that group broke up, I ran occasional one-shot games for several years. When the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released, I adopted it enthusiastically and got a new gaming group together. I loved that Wizards of the Coast had welded the messy Dungeons & Dragons game (with its mass of disconnected systems) into a game with a single core mechanic. As a ran the new version of the game, however, I grew disenchanted with it. It seemed to me that certain aspects of the design made the game too slow to run, and too much work to be fun.

In the mean time I took the obligatory first stab at creating my own game system. It was not completely successful, so I left it unfinished. I still look at it from time-to-time, to see who I was when I began writing it, and glean small nuggets of useful ideas.

The creation of the Open Gaming License had inadvertently resulted in the creation of new games that shared many features. One of those games was Castles & Crusades, a game which in my opinion fulfilled the promise of Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons. I purchased the books, and found a system that, while it’s own game, was compatible with the older TSR-era Dungeons & Dragons material that I owned. I started a Castles & Crusades campaign called Vaozum with several other gamers who were not adverse to the streamlined rules of the game.

A few years ago I was involved in open gaming at a local Gaming Store, including several “indie” Role-Playing Games, the new Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, and Call of Cthulhu. On a lark I proposed running the old Rules Cyclopedia version of Classic Dungeons & Dragons as an occasional thing. That proposal morphed into a regular campaign, set in the ancient history of my Castles & Crusades campaign.

For the past couple of years I’ve been running and creating new material for my Gothic Romance RPG, “Ghastly Affair”. Designed first and foremost for the diverse group of people I play with, I’ve now shared it with the gaming public. Of course, “Ghastly Affair” began with the material posted on this site, but I decided that truly emulating the Gothic genre demanded writing my own game. I decided to still employ the OGL, however, because it allowed me to use terms and concepts already familiar to a wide range of players.

Gaming isn’t going to change the world. It’s a niche hobby, and will doubtless never be widely popular. I know that many think it’s childish thing for a grown man to still be involved in. My only defense is that I derive some measure of enjoyment from it. And isn’t that all the justification any harmless thing needs?