Friday, February 6, 2009

Why so jaded?

First things first... Let me lay it all bare and discuss how and why the Jaded Gamer is so jaded.

-- My gaming history --

It all started in 1984. I was 9 years old. A friend of mine was into Dungeons & Dragons and the concept of a limitless game completely enraptured my mind.

BUT - I am the son of two deeply conservative, religious people and, especially in the 1970's-80's, D&D was viewed as tantamount to overt devil worship.

So I set about creating my own game based on what little I understood about role-playing... Cutting out all the magic, undead, and demons, of course. Eventually, with the help of much older brothers with some actual life experience, we crafted a game of our own based on the same concepts, only sanitised for consumption by the Religious Right, and proceeded to play it on a regular basis for the next several years.

High School came along and I started to care less what my parents thought. We moved to Colorado from Arkansas and I started recruiting some friends to play with me... Only they all played D&D and weren't hugely interested in some homebrew knock-off with all the interesting bits cut out. So, as long as I didn't own any books with half-naked women or gross beasts on the covers, I got away with it... (New use for Duct Tape #2,459,108)

Starting in 1990, especially in the summers, we played nearly endlessly. Several times a week. Usually 12+ hours at a stretch... From Basic to Advanced to (the end of Gygax) 2nd Edition, we slogged through countless orcs, dragons, and goofy teenaged Tolkien-esque storylines.

I guess I could shorthand much of this portion of the story by saying I have played a holy buttload of D&D in my life span... Two of those friends from 1990 are still in my primary D&D group. We're relatively young men, in our middle thirties, but old, salty veterans with the polyhedrons.

Somewhere along the line, the whole thing start feeling... rote... trite... mundane... So many descriptors fit and they all boil down to one thing; burn-out.

-- My publishing group --

Ever since that first foray into creating our own material, I felt empowered to publish new content for D&D. In 1996, I started by opening up a website called the "Dungeon Dwellers Guild" and sharing my content for free with an email subscription list. It was sporadic and eventually died around 1998.

In 2000, with the advent of 3rd Edition D&D, the Open Gaming License opened up a whole new world for me and many other folks with similar leanings... Now we were allowed to publish officially compatible material for D&D without being sued. Fantastic.

My publishing company, "Dungeon Dwellers Guild Games" (a web search will lead you to the ruins), launched in 2003 with my first product: "Tome of the Ancients, Volume 1 - Artifacts". It was amateurish, but served its purpose well enough.

We released dozens more products over the next 5 years, experiencing inconsistent success, until finally I decided to pull the plug. The whole thing had become too much of a burden and, combined with my general burn-out, was sinking me into a depression.

By the time "DDG Games" plummeted from the heavens in great fiery bits, I felt like an empty husk. I could sit for hours and try, but I couldn't squeeze a single creative idea out of my head in relation to fantasy role-playing. I was spent on a level I had never experienced before.

-- Present day --

I turned the reigns of the primary D&D group over to my friend Theo and have been playing an honorbound knight named Arktouros (Artus) for the last, oh, six months or so. Getting out from under the pressure of the DM's chair has helped somewhat.

It's now been 4 months since I axed DDG Games. Zero regrets. If I ever release RPG material again, I will probably open my own website and offer it for free / voluntary donations. All the marketing and networking required to sustain a for-profit business is just too much.

The release of 4th Edition has helped somewhat, also... Rather than focusing on the worn and charred husk that was once my muse, I have the kinks of a new(ish) system to iron out. The edition has some complications on its surface, but I'm still feeling that a sufficiently talented DM can use its mechanics to create a truly excellent campaign experience. I'm trying it out now on my secondary, "Friday Night", group... Other than a TPK last week and some rules confusion, it's going relatively well.

And now you've caught up to the moment... I've opened a blog to discuss the ins and outs of the whole process, share the status of my latest writing projects with anyone who cares to read, and just generally hash out my entire fantasy existence for the world to see.

Hopefully someone out there cares enough to read it.

Welcome to my world...

Hello, you have reached the fantasy gaming (most especially 3.x and 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons) blog of John Walborn, veteran gamer and former industry insider...

I intend to discuss many things here, some game-related and many stemming from my personal struggles with the steady decline of role-playing in general on my weekend fun-o-meter. I'll also give you some occassional peeks into Tales of the Duelist: The Saga of Morlef Duchesne (working title) as I go... Hopefully more than four people (including my wife and mother) will read it (them, it's looking to be a trilogy) when it is finished.

Thanks for stopping by and keep your eyes peeled. Everything is open to discussion. I'd very much like to hear your take on my posts.