But I just couldn’t finish it. There were too many that would have wound up being, “See previous entry”, “I don’t know” or “Meh.” So I’m going to turn this last post into a “What I’ve Learned From D&D” post.
I’ve never played anything other than BECMI in grade school and junior high, 1e in high school and a smattering of a few 3e sessions because my buddy needed another player. Never touched 2e, and I bought the Rules Cyclopedia but we never got a game going. I went through the nearly mandatory “D&D sucks so bad, play a real rpg” phase, but got over it. I went through the total nostalgia phase. As of right now I have no strong opinion one way or the other about classes, hit points, armor class, saving throws or anything else. I really don’t like alignments, but that’s a personal preference and not anything against morality systems. If I were to play D&D again I’d likely pick Neutral and be done with it.
Looking back on my early play experiences with D&D, they’re so far in the past that I really can’t say how much different I play now. I was 10 years old when I started, so obviously my games were very sophisticated both in play and content. Certainly, with my love of games like Fate Core, I’ve transitioned to a more narrative focus – but from my perspective that’s been a long-term tweaking of my play preferences and not any kind of transformation. Piecing together memories of various games, I can see that I took away from D&D an appreciation for figuring out the best way for the rules to serve what was going on within the game. Making rolls against ability scores and finding new uses for saving throws in lieu of having a skill system come to mind. The rules didn’t cover every single situation, so we extended them as best as we could in a way that made sense.
Yet even those experiences, while interesting from an academic perspective, don’t eclipse what D&D ultimately gave me: a common vernacular and cultural identity, and a whole hell of a lot of fun. In the end, I think the lifelong fun is the single biggest thing D&D has given me.