Thursday, January 12, 2012

The First Whiff of Pipe Smoke.

What can I say? As any nerd ages he finds himself like many others looking back upon his past through the lens of nostalgia. It goes without saying as well that those nerds who have ever reveled at shared adventures through the imaginary landscapes of Dungeons & Dragons(or countless other Rpg's)  will no doubt cling to those richly rewarding memories. I myself can recall to mind any number of humorous and/or  exhilarating moments of personal triumph. The sad part is the more I look back though, the more I lament the gaps in the details. Little things like the various names of adventure modules I enjoyed, obscure board game titles, even the exact number of games/characters we actually managed to play elude me.

But even with all the things memory and time have conspired to deprive from me, some stay forever etched into my mind. Vividly do I recall the mental image of a grizzled character that was the first persona I ever donned in any game. He was, crafted at the time through second-hand information as a 'Man-at-arms,' a class I was assured existed. Armed with a throwing hatchet, whip, short sword and if I'm not mistaken a trusty chain mail shirt. Was he perfect? Not by any means, but he did manage to make some heroic escapes, namely one from a burning forest as I recall(the fire's cause originating from a ill-considered impulse of my younger brother).

Over the years other figures came to life within our stories to shine amongst so many dimly illuminated members of my cognitive archives. A lumbering brute of a ranger(for those 2nd ed familiar; 18(00) strength, gauntlets of ogre might, and belt of giant strength as well) that my peers spent a great deal of time exaggerating on. Instantly his intelligence became barely high enough to form more than simple grunts and short phrases, his two handed sword becoming the size of a telephone pole and his name(Denais Brightstar) a running source of endless jokes. He was a delight none the less, and spawned many a hearty laugh. There was a dwarf professional soldier, even a self made kit character that slung daggers like a wild west gunslinger. There were so many, and sadly some have faded from memory.

While I may not recall the names or all the details of many of those older modules, I don't think anyone can forget the first time they ran into Elminster, his pipe lit and a ready tale to tell. Ironically I used to struggle with what I perceived were the complexities of wizards as well as the overall feel of Faerun. That is until I read the Elminster trilogy novels. The first thing I did afterwards was beg my cousin(and at the time the default DM of our group) to borrow a players handbook and the Forgotten Realms campaign setting so I could make a wizard and a rogue.

Similarly etched within me is the first time I walked the streets of Sharn. The whole of Eberron exploded with new possibilities, dancing about inside me to tease me with a wealth of plots and stories it promised. And once more the worlds creator penned a trilogy of novels that gave me insight and understanding. But by this point I was experiencing everything from behind the curtain as I watched my players shape new stories.

I can't help but regret not playing more when I was younger, not to mention actively keeping up with our various exploits and persona's more. But I can endeavor to continue creating new memories, and who knows; there is always the chance that one might stumble into those familiar whiffs of a fresh lit pipe.

To the tales we tell and those that await us.