Wednesday, March 3, 2010

J'onn J'onzz ... the half-elf?

I spent way too much money as a kid on role playing games.
Ordinarily, I'd probably be a little embarrassed to talk about playing something as profoundly geeky as a pencil-and-paper RPG. By itself, it's bad enough.
But if Dungeons and Dragons was the gateway drug of RPGs, then I was a full-blown crackwhore by the time I was 14 years old.
Allow me to explain.
It started around 1980 or so when I had a lot of time to kill, specifically time on the school bus. My brother and I were the first ones on the bus in the morning and the last ones off in the afternoon. On a good day we spent an hour on the bus. One way.
We weren't alone on these daily trudges and, before long, someone introduced us to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (I always thought the "Advanced" was a bit pretentious, even at the tender age of 9.) Most of these games were just excuses for the older kids to invent female characters with low standards in fashion and lower standards in men, if you catch my drift. Some of my greatest misinformation about sex came from listening in on the narratives of these games.

Anyway, I eventually created my own character, a half-elf named J'onn J'onzz ... a name I ripped off from an issue of Justice League of America because I was a raging dork. I'm much better now, thanks.
AD&D led to Star Frontiers, which lead to Star Trek, James Bond, Marvel and DC comic book roleplaying games, as well as my two favorites: Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones.

While I dearly love Ghostbusters and Indy, the real appeal of these games were their flexible rules. The Indiana Jones game from TSR let you build functional, detailed games that never got bogged down in tedious legalese like AD&D.
It was also easy to adapt those rules to other settings. Around 1988 I applied the Indiana Jones rules to a homemade Die Hard module and ran some friends through a skyscraper labyrinth full of terrorists ... all of whom proved less terrifying than my friends actually playing the game. One insisted on trying to rattle my imaginary bad guys by defiling the corpses of his enemies. And by "defiling" I mean pretty much what you think I mean.
Ghostbusters, on the other hand, had no rules. In the RPG world it was the equivalent of the old Batman TV show with Adam West. It was just an excuse to have fun. But I think I'll save commentary of that terrific game for another post.


  1. There's no shame in gaming. I don't get that, this whole "Gee, sorry I play/played RPGs". What's it matter? Does anyone apologize for wearing sports jerseys? For hiking? For knitting?

    No. No, they don't. They don't, and neither should anyone who plays, or played, RPGs.

  2. If I seem a little apprehensive it's just a reflex action. This site will get a lot more militant in coming weeks.

    That being said, you're absolutely correct on all counts.

  3. By the way, I totally went off about this on my blog -- but I made sure to point out that it was no offense to you. It's just the all-too-pervasive attitude about this stuff that bugs me.

    I see less and less of it these days, but I acknowledge that maybe it seems that way because of the blogs I read. Still, when I do see it, I get all crazy and go RAAAAAAAHHHRRRRRGH, STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT RHAAAAARRRGH!

    Okay. I'm done. Nice blog!


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