King Arthur Pendragon

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In praise of Grognardia

I don't remember how I came across Grognardia, James Malizsewski's blog about old school gaming. I don't even remember if I learned about the blog's existence before I began playing AD&D 1st edition two years ago or if I was surfing the web looking for old school gaming advice after I started playing AD&D 1st edition. What I can say with certainty is that Grognardia was a source of inspiration and entertainment for a good many months, mostly between 2010 and the end of the blog in 2012. I was reading it even before I knew what OSR (Old School Renaissance) was. I wasn't part of that movement. My reading of the blog was more of an attempt to learn about that nebulous period (for me) that encompasses the origins of the hobby, from circa 1974, to the mid-1980s.

I came relatively late to the hobby around 1989 with Frank Mentzer's Dungeons & Dragons red box and skipped right to Middle Earth roleplaying game (MERP), then Call of Cthulhu. I never played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons regularly, except for the occasional one-shot scenario during the second edition years. Fantasy-wise I was mostly a MERP and Warhammer Roleplaying game fan, although most of my hobby time was devoted to Call of Cthulhu. My serious involvement with old school gaming, to the extent that involvement implies not only playing the game, but also reading about the early days and its key figures, began in 2010.

In the end, it matters little how I discovered Grognardia. What matters is that the blog was my go-to blog for a few months. It was inspirational reading and many a night I spent pouring through hundreds of articles. I learned more about funhouse dungeons, what particular historical context a certain module was published in, who some of the most influencial figures of the early days of the hobby were, and many other facts. I learned to what extent the Dragonlance modules influenced TSR to go from a dungeon-oriented model to a story-oriented module, I learned some entertaining facts about those who tackled the legendary Tomb of Horrors and something about the history of the long lost Greyhawk campaign.

Its influence on the whole OSR movement, of which James Maliszewski was a fierce proponent, is undeniable. Now that the blog seems to be dead, I join others like Once More Unto the Breach in remembering. Would you care to share some of own your memories about Grognardia?

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