Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back in Blackmoor - Out of the Box with Ken Hite

This column occasionally takes a little heat for being head over heels in love with the hippie elves of the 'indie gaming community,' to which charge this columnist pleads emphatically guilty. But a year after Gary Gygax’ final leveling up, it’s time to look back at the original indie gaming community, which is to say at modern-day players of the original indie game: Dungeons & Dragons, B.C. (Before Corporatism). Forget 4e vs. 3.5 vs. Pathfinder — in the “old school” community, AD&D is still just a little bit too slick and citified for some folks.

I’ll have more to say on the storied rivalries — and eerie similarities — between indie elves and old-school dwarves in later columns, but I figured I should start out with an introduction to the whole concept. And who better to introduce me, and through me you good people, to it than James Maliszewski? James has written a lot of gaming material, of which I might select the Gear Krieg RPG as one of my personal favorites, but is perhaps best known now for his retro imperial-SF game Thousand Suns and — the reason he’s here now — his tetchy, diamantine, opinionated, finely-researched, downright amazing blog Grognardia. From that pulpit, he’s become, if not the Pope of Old School, certainly its William Phillips, and he’s been generous enough to answer us some questions.