About 6 years ago, I was looking at PostSecret.com and was surprised and moved by one of the secrets. This deep dark secret was: "I just realized that the greatest fun I've ever had, even including sex, was playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time." There were blue old-style TSR inside-of-a-module-cover maps as the artsy background for the secret. I was deeply struck by that idea, even though I can't fully agree (duh- shtupping is awesome! Mostly).
I really got turned off D&D when the Saturday morning cartoon started and when action figure toys like "Strongheart- Good Fighter" came out. What had seemed so cool, adult, intellectual and counter-cultural when Mike told me in 4th grade, in 1979, about black pudding and beholders now made me feel claustrophobic and childish and embarrassed to be associated with it. I avoided anything to do with what people now call 2nd edition D&D. I was completely ignorant of 3rd edition and 3.5.
But in 2010, my wife was pregnant with our first child. I read the PostSecret post and admitted to myself that D&D, back in the late 70s-early 80s, was a lot of fun for me. Searching google, I found the archipelago of Old School Renaissance blogs. I was pleased to find people who were annoyed with full-color flashy spiky-haired dungeon punk anime aesthetics and appreciated the black-and-white, sometimes awkwardly-rendered Holmes Basic Blue Book D&D and 1977 Monster Manual drawings "like some mysterious medieval woodcuts". I forgot who wrote that, but it hit the nail on the head for me.
I gave in to the compulsion, chewed up a lot of material, and then regurgitated it into my own DIY creations with Holmes Basic rules (mostly because I am too busy and can't be bothered to learn new systems). I inhaled Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millenium: Mystical Anarchists and Revolutionary Millenarians on the Eve of the Reformation in Europe (my favorite book), the Middenmurk blog, Telecanter's Receding Rules, Luc Sante's Low Life (another favorite book I keep buying copies of to give to friends), dual-faith among newly (and longtime) converted medieval Slavs, Hill Cantons blog, World Current Archaeology magazine.
Some really kind friends indulged me in playing shortly before my kid was born. More on that debacle and what I learned from it in a future post.
Another friend tried to be a D&D yenta and set me up with this DM my own (middle aged) age who creeped me out with his cheesy 3rd edition aesthetics.
More recently, I have been eating Byzantine brain food - Dumbarton Oaks, etc. The product of this diet will appear coiled atop this blog shortly.