The past blasted me a couple of times this weekend. The charity site Bundle of Holding offered the old Traveller RPG books from 1981 as PDF for a giveaway price (through July 9th), and I discovered that D&D Classics will sell me the First Edition Dungeons and Dragons books in a similar downloadable form, cheaper than they’ve ever been. With the PDF reader on my iPad, I could browse them easily, even use them to run a game or two were I so inclined; I’ve done this with Shadowrun and Paranoia PDFs.
Both offers are incredibly tempting. I spent uncounted hours of my puberty reading these game books, immersing myself in their world, and running adventures in my head when I couldn’t play with my friends. Did a lot of the latter, to be honest: I went a long stretch without friends who were interested in a regular game, and frankly most of us were abysmal gamesters. We followed rules slavishly or bent them nine ways from Sunday without thinking for a second about game balance, or storytelling. We didn’t spend any time building a game world to inhabit, either. Adventures were disconnected episodes which occurred in a void. Despite all that, I had a lot of fun and kept many golden memories.
So, these old books tempt me to come back and relive those happy novice days. Unfortunately, I’m not 13 any more. I’ve spent a lot of experience points, bought off some disadvantages, and picked up some new ones. The dungeons of my youth are now familiar places, stripped of their wonder and danger in favor of familiarity. I find my modern players less interested in poring over carefully-constructed maps of hyperspace jump routes in favor of simply asking, “According to the ship’s computer, where’s the closest system with a fuel depot we can safely use?” and I can’t blame them. Hell, I don’t even know anyone who cares about D&D these days, with Pathfinder still going strong.
So I’ll be saving money on this nostalgic offer for now. I have to admit, though: “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” would still make a great Deadlands or Shadowrun adventure with some adjustments to fit the new setting.