Don’t you hate it that there is a hobby you loved as a child, but you know your kids are doomed to never enjoy because it has changed so much? Dungeons & Dragons was a huge part of my life from 5th grade on through my college years. It taught me tons on medieval history, mythology, cartography, herbology, metallurgy and more. I read countless books that inspired the original game: Tolkein, De Camp, Burroughs, Howard, Leiber and Moorcock.
But it’s a different game and a different world than when I played. Part of the charm of the original D&D was that it was so simple — simple enough for a 10-year-old to digest the rules without adult assistance. It was neat because we could do something that most adults didn’t understand and had never done. Now the game is a bloated mass, decades of product that no single person could ever digest. Far from the two slender softbound books that came with the original D&D Basic Set (along with the six polyhedral dice and a crayon for filling in the numbers), now the game rules are gargantuan. They have grown to encompass almost a dozen canonical universes, countless monsters and items, multiple pantheons of deities and intricately mapped out cities. How is a kid supposed to absorb it all?
Now, now, I know what you’re thinking — there are a million competing games out there, and there’s always eBay to buy the original stuff. But it’s a different time now. Kids have (or seem to have) a hundred times as many distractions now as we did. Who needs an imagination when you have cinematic video games, the Internet and video on demand?
Maybe there was something magical about that summer in 1980 that will never be repeated. But I hope I’m wrong.