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Tales From the Luddite – So It Begins

Editor’s Note: Please welcome to The Surly Dragon our latest contributor In addition to being a featured regular on the Operation: “Stab It!” podcast, Mat will also be part of the panel team at AwesomeCon 2015 in Washington DC on May 30th. Enjoy the first installment of what we expect to be a regular series on the site! -Monty

Written by for the Surly Dragon: 11-6-2014

Ok, so let me start off by laying the groundwork of this blog.  I am not a tech savvy guy.  I know enough to get myself into trouble with my computer, but I need to tap into my network of friends to help get me out of trouble.  I mean hell’s bell’s I work in the employee benefits field…ask me about health insurance and I can go on for hours…ask me about “Java”, I think coffee!  It is actually pretty funny to sit online talking with the other folks in our gaming group (all of whom are in the computer field in some way or another) and hear them talking about some project they are working on for work and hearing the “wanh, wanh” Charlie Brown adults talking sound because what they are saying is so far over my head that my eyes just glaze over.

Each post will be split into 3 parts.

Part 1: The Tech Report – How things flowed from my luddite point of view.

Part 2: The RP Report – Just general thoughts from a role playing point of view including things I thought were really cool that week.

Part 3: Deep Thoughts – My random thoughts from the gaming sessions.  Finally I will include

Part 4: BOOYAH/WTF moment from each week’s session.

I am hoping to post this every week after we play.

Now, here’s a little background on me and my experience with D&D.  I started playing D&D in the summer of 1979 when I received the red box set of Basic D&D for my birthday.  I progressed to Expert edition around Christmas that year and finally I worked my way up to 1st edition Advanced D&D.   As I got into my high school and college years I transitioned to 2nd Edition D&D then 3.0 and 3.5.  In and amongst these years, I have played many other RPG’s from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Judge Dread to Marvel Superhero’s.  During these years, I have played on both sides of the table; but the vast majority of my gaming time has been as a player.  Since I am most experienced as a player, I will be writing with that as my focus.  I was a theater major in college and this is a big reason that the RPG is so much fun for me.

In addition to the pen and paper games, I have been a regular player of the video game versions of D&D (Pool of Radiance, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights etc.) as well as MMORPG’s from Everquest to World of Warcraft to Star Wars the Old Republic.  I have also played Magic: the Gathering, Highlander, Gangland and other card and board games regularly since…well…forever.  In other words…LOTS of gaming!

I stopped playing D&D (or any tabletop game) 6 or 7 years ago when I moved about 200 miles away from my gaming buddies and it just became way to difficult to get together on a regular basis.

I started playing with the Surely Dragon group about 2 years ago when I got an email from long time friends Monty and Bryan.  We all live in different cities so this is a great way for us to get together every week and save the money we would have to spend to travel.  The 1st time I played I thought the interface with Roll20 was very easy to use.   I had some difficulties from the RP side of things though.  I think I had just been away for too long.  When things started getting busy for me in my real life, I stopped playing.  I came back for a couple of months and still just wasn’t feeling it.  When the party left Vermögen, I changed my character and finally things fell into place for me from an RP standpoint.

Ok, enough about me and let’s move on to the fun stuff!

Part 1 – Tech Report

Since this is the inaugural posting, I am going to go back to when I first started playing in the Roll20 system.  The best part of this system is that everything is there at your fingertips.  You can scroll through the visible map (fog of war is applied if the DM chooses); you can make your rolls (including modifications) right there on the screen; the initiative table allows for easy tracking of the turn order.  As time has passed, Roll20 has incorporated a character sheet into their system which seems to be working really well.  For purposes of keeping the luddite in mind, I am continuing to play with my paper and pen sheet (thank you Monty) and it continues to be really easy to keep the pace flowing.

My only complaint for the Roll20 folks would be it would be really nice to be able to move the dice and initiative windows to another monitor.  Dual screening would be REALLY helpful to clear up space on the map screen.  Other than that, I have found the system extremely easy to use!

Part 2 – RP Report

One of the best things about RPG’s is that there really aren’t any rules as to the personality of your character.  You have complete freedom to play your character as the taciturn dwarf, the flighty elf, or the goodie-two-shoes human.  The bad part of this (particularly when you have been away from playing for a while) is that there really aren’t any rules as to the personality of your character.

When I first came back I struggled with this aspect of role playing.  I really couldn’t get a good grasp on how to RP again and it took a lot of the enjoyment away from the game for me.  I first played a dwarf fighter/priest.  This was fun, but just as I was starting to get into playing him, real life jumped up and kicked me in the ass and I had to step away from the game.

Life started to settle down a bit and I came back with an Elf Rogue since the party was missing a thiefy type of guy.  He had an interesting back story (basically think James Bond but more racist, i.e. elves 1st) but he was just too…what’s the word…anti-social (?) and crossed into the borderline evil side of things when we encountered drow.  I mean I had the party worried that my character was a complete sociopath!  I just couldn’t get into things going with him.

I next tried a halfling “Indiana Jones” but as I played him, I started feeling that I was a complete dead weight when we got into combat.  The character himself was fun.  A halfling who was bullied because he was small and thus HATED bullies.  I mean, I actually head-butted an orc in the nads!  How much fun is that!?!! Sadly, he died when about 1000 swords followed by some Greek oil and a torch fell on his head.

With this in mind I am going to throw away the RPing that I did in the early days with the Surely Dragon group and focus on my play now.  For me, the thing that truly got me back into the gaming swing of things was “rules”.  I decided to play a paladin and it has been a LOT of fun!

I will post tidbits about my character’s background later, but below is a snap shot of the basics:

Name: Michael Gabriel

Race: Half-Elf

Class: Paladin (pronounced “palədn” NOT “puh-lad-in”)

Mount: Worg (more on the Worg background later as well)

Deity: Corellon Larethian

Part 3 – Deep Thoughts

The other day, Monty said that our gaming group has a combined 75 years of gaming experience among us.  HOLY SHIT I feel OLD!

I also want to take a moment here in my first post to say to the entire Surly Dragon crew you guys are all a great group of folks and a lot of fun to play with.


Wait…Did that Silver Dragon really just eat the prisoners?!?!?


Posted by May 13, 2015

Tagged: ,

2 comments on Tales From the Luddite – So It Begins:

  1. 尚吾网 May 14, 2015 9:20 pm


    • Monty
      Monty May 15, 2015 11:15 am

      I’m pretty sure China just declared war on Mat. I put $5 on Mat.

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