Monday, May 25, 2009

Old Books

I want to start by saying that I intend to get my blog campaign up and running tomorrow. I’ve spoken to the players and they are all good with that; things were interrupted rather poorly about a month ago, but I’ll still be starting with the party as they toil around the aftermath of the gate opening in Dachau.

Just lately I bought my third DM’s Guide. The second was lost about a decade ago when a roommate of mine moronically destroyed a bunch of my property. I still have the first – it and the Player’s Handbook, which I also have, were bought for me by my parents for Christmas of 1979. They did not really understand the game, though I tried many times to explain it to them ... they were kind enough to overlook that. They bought me dice, too: a 4, an 8, a 12, two 20s and 4 six-sided.

Of those nine dice, I have one – a white 20-sided. I neglected to have one of my players take a picture of it with their cell-phone (I don’t own one), but I’ll remedy that in the near future. The die in question was made in those years when a 20-sided numbered from 0 to 9 twice, and you were expected to color one of the sequences yourself in order to know when to add ten. We usually used a crayon. The die has been thrown the length of a high school cafeteria more than once, has been used as a projectile at me by an angry player, and on one memorable occasion was dropped from a four-story building to find out if ‘high-impact’ meant it would bounce. Not as much as you might think. The die has been worn so smooth that the grooves will no longer hold coloring (though there are stains from when I would repeatedly use a felt-tip), but I still use it as a 10-sided.

Here is a picture of the front cover of the Player’s Handbook:

As you can see, the book has been used. I am actually quite fastidious in my use of books, mildly neurotic about it, actually, but continuous use over thirty years has simply worn down the bindings and scoured the picture on both the front and the back:

The book feels quite worn to the touch, the pages very slightly tattered along the edges – but with none missing, none of them torn and almost no hand-written notes. It feels somewhat strange to look in the PH these days, as for about five years I have re-written much of the text for personal use, changing spells, modifying the descriptions of the character classes and so on. Except for the weapon’s table (which I very rarely need to use as it is quite memorized) and a few of the very high level spells (which I haven’t bothered to copy out as my experience with very high level players pre-dates my decision to rewrite the books), I don’t need it.

The DM’s Guide, however, I continue to use for a number of things (combat notes, magic items), as I’ve never seriously tried to rewrite it. Here is my copy:

Lovely, isn’t it? I remember I decided to duct tape both it and the PH sometime in the late 90s. I know for certain that I have done so twice with both books, which accounts for why the duct tape doesn’t look so bad (I would have last done it around 2003). Still, the book feels a bit grimy to the touch due to the human oils transferred by my fingers over the years. Plus the back and front covers are pretty much both separated from the binding, which I hope you can see from this picture:

Lately the copy of the DMG that I picked up cost me $15 from a used bookstore. There is one near where I live that always has one copy on the shelf. I know from asking that they have dozens in storage and that they sell one every couple of months.

Walking home with it, having no back-pack, I noticed at least two people taking a special effort to read the cover of the book to see what it was. This connected with me – I know that many people would feel a bit shy about walking down the street with a DM’s Guide, as though it were something to be ashamed of. I know also that many people don’t admit they play D&D to strangers because of it’s reputation. Frankly, in a world where NASCAR is on television, I don’t worry much about being thought of as ‘ignorant’ by strangers.

It does occur to me that if you are one of those who want players, you should start carrying your DM’s Guide with you everywhere. That means 3rd edition for most of you, which isn’t as recognized a book for other players, but the policy is the same. Take it to work, take it to the coffee shop, take it everywhere. Make sure that it is set on the table, front cover up, prominently where it can be read easily by everyone in the place. Spend an afternoon at the local college or university where the students eat.

It is called advertising. I'm certain it would work.


Norman Harman said...

Word up brother!

Alexis said...


Read your blog post, but thought I'd better answer here.

Since I also practice bisexuality, transvestism and bondage, D&D runs a distant 4th place as 'things I hide from the public and especially my employers.'