Friday, August 14, 2009

Pandora's Box

RuneQuest begins with the following words:
This book is dedicated to Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, who first opened Pandora's box, and to Ken St. Andre, who found it could be opened again.
I regularly hear gamers make the claim that one can never go home again. That is, there will never again be a game like your first; you can't experience the thrill of discovery more than once. Once the Red Box has been opened, it's a lifetime of cynicism thereafter.

I find that attitude odd, because it doesn't at all reflect my experience in this hobby. It is possible to go home again. I know this to be true, as I've experienced it many times throughout my time roleplaying. D&D may have been my first game, but it wasn't the only game to fill me with awe. Traveller and Call of Cthulhu had as profound an impact on me as did D&D. Likewise, rediscovering old school D&D after years of not having played it -- or, in the case of OD&D, never having played it at all -- has been like a homecoming. And, as my recent reading of Stormbringer has shown me, there are always new-old horizons to explore, many of which bring me as much pleasure as the first time I cracked open the Holmes rulebook at Christmas 1979.

Here's to opening Pandora's Box many more times.


  1. Hear, hear, James. I sometimes wonder how many people who claim to "burn out" on D&D and leave the hobby would be reinvigorated by trying a new game.

    D&D is great, and will always be my go-to game of choice, but there are lots more fish in the sea.

  2. Thanks for featuring that quote James! It's been a favorite of mine since I found a copy of 1st Ed Runequest on the shelves of Powell's books a number of years back, and I recently misquoted it while moderating a "Retrospective on Roleplaying" panel. But I've always adored the sentiment!

    Yes, we can keep opening the box!

  3. Amen, brother. Discovering the OSR this past year has definitely brought me home to my roots(even though I started playing in 1987). I might be more in love with the game now than I was when I first rolled those "funny little dice" on the kitchen table.

  4. I have to agree with the sentiment that you can't go home again. I have great nostalgia for old school games. It's why I visit this blog. But I firmly believe that rules mechanics evolve over time. They definitely improve over time. I simply feel that many newer systems are superior to older systems. Things can and do really get better.

    You will never get rid of my copy of 1E D&D. But I will also never play it again. I consider 3.5 a flatly better rules system that still captures the feel of D&D. I look forward to my copy of Pathfinder to see if the improvements meet my needs.

    I will never be fourteen and a gaming virgin again. But that is life.

  5. Guess why I have almost 100 different RGPs? Burn out is not an issue...

  6. Tetsubo: Everything you said - I believe the exact opposite.