3000th Post - No Longer a Sage
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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:48 pm 

And so, I come to my 3000th post.  

   With this post I officially lose my status as a "sage collector" and become a "long-winded collector."  I suppose that the title is fitting, since it has taken me just under two years to compile 3000 posts -- something like four posts a day.  There is no disguising my full-fledged geek status.  Still, I'm going to miss being a "sage."

    So, it was back in 1978.  It must have been June, since I was in between my freshman and sophomore years of high school.  A friend of mine had been talking about a new game that was too cool to be believed.  With my first reading of The Lord of the Rings, fading into the rearview mirror, Dungeons and Dragons sounded like a nice way to feed my need for fantasy literature.

    I had heard of Dungeons and Dragons before.  I read about it in an article about computer games, so I was a bit confused about exactly what it was.  I had also heard, somewhere, about some concern over the game by clergymen.  

    As the son of an evangelical minister, I was growing up fundamentalist in the era when Christians across the nation were becoming radicalized and politically motivated by changes in society.  I went to church three times a week, plus youth group activities.  I wasn't allowed to go to school dances.  We did not see movies in theatres (although my older brother had been allowed to take me to see Star Wars on a one-time-only basis).  I was not allowed to watch Star Trek because of its secular, Darwinian philosophy.  We did not "waste money" on carnival rides.  We did not gamble or play with poker cards.  We did not go swimming on Sunday.  We did not wear short sleeves, jewelry, open-toed shoes, long hair, hair dye or excessive makeup -- particularly if we were boys.  

    I can only attribute my parents' decision to let me play Dungeons and Dragons to either ignorance (the big negative publicity had not quite hit yet) or being too tired to argue with me about yet another topic.  It is remarkable that they put up not only with my gaming, but with twice-weekly gatherings of gamers at their house, dominating the family room and making huge amounts of noise.  Perhaps they were wiser than I gave them credit for.  Only now, 30 years later, do I realize how hard parenting can be.

    Ultimately, my parents succeeded in their main goal.  I retain my Christian beliefs, tempered by a hard core of rationalism, common sense and critical thinking.  I watch Star Trek whenever possible, just on principle.

    In my first Dungeons and Dragons game, I played Tirandar Dragonhelm, a fighter with a strength of 12 (my best stat) and two (2) hit points.  We adventured in a slightly expanded version of the example dungeon printed in the Holmes Basic Set.  Although the others at the table had much more experience, I survived the adventure when several of them did not.  I shot a hobgoblin with my crossbow…which seemed a feat of daring and a real accomplishment.  I blanched in terror at the appearance of three skeletons and sighed with sincere relief when our cleric turned them.

    I was hooked.  

    People sometimes joke about how getting a girlfriend is the end of a boy's interest in D&D.  Maybe it's true.  Nothing stopped me from having a girlfriend and gaming at the same time.  I wasn't one of those guys who went to school in a cape.  I played varsity sports (and, like many Christians, I reveled in the violence and freedom of football).  I was student body president.  I hid my true nature quite well -- possibly a trick I learned at church.

    I became the dungeon master because no one else seemed to be able to do it right, or on a consistent basis.  I bought my own copy of the Holmes Basic Set at a game store in Portland, Oregon -- at $9, it was a huge investment.  The first stand-alone module I ever saw was Shrine of the Kuo Toa.  It was on the same display with Vault of the Drow and Steading of the Hill Giant Chief (possibly the single greatest module ever).  Like most collectors, I now scream at the large number of discounted 99 cent items I passed on back in the day.  

    Having never seen the boxed set now known as OD&D, we puzzled at the meaning of the word "supplement" on the covers of Greyhawk and Blackmoor.

    Elsewhere, I have described my encounters with Judges Guild modules and the hold they had over my imagination.  I think that Judges Guild was a key factor in the growth of Dungeons and Dragons into AD&D.  The larger scope of Judges Guild products, particularly in the wilderlands and city state publications, was the catalyst that moved TSR modules out of the dungeon and into the wider world.

    The collection of first edition AD&D books and modules on the shelf behind me was mostly a series of gifts to me from various players.  Fellow high schoolers, hungry for adventure, coaxed me with a steady supply of game materials.  

    I kept playing, on a reduced basis, during college until I got married between my junior and senior years.  My new wife (still hot, by the way) encouraged me to start a regular game at our house during my senior year.  She joined the game, and still plays.  

    Over the years, we have moved from one version of Dungeons and Dragons to the next.  AD&D slowly morphed into the lesser stepchild known as 2nd Edition AD&D.  That eventually became 3rd Edition and its greater sibling, 3.5 Edition.  I never played the Meztner Basic D&D game, but like everyone else I used the modules almost interchangeably.  I do not share the dislike of Wizards of the Coast that characterizes a number of older gamers.  They have their faults, just like TSR always did.

    Two factors have kept me in gaming.  The first is friendships.  Dungeons and Dragons has brought me lifelong friends, who have remained interested and sincere friends even after most of them have stopped gaming.  (They stopped gaming, but they remained gamers -- many of them becoming the covert geeks known as "computer gamers.")  I have a large circle of gamer friends, scattered across the globe, who read my semi-weekly game reports like sports fans listening to the game on the radio.  Some of my current group of gamers have been with me for two decades or more.  One has been at the game table off an on for three decades.

    The second factor that has kept me in gaming is the inherent interest of creating and "running" a game world.  In an early issue of Dragon magazine there was a short story called, "The Hand that Turns the Crank."  In it, a historian manages to track down a German nuclear physicist who has been in hiding since fleeing Nazi Germany before World War II.  "Destroying a universe is nothing," says the recluse to the narrator, "once you have learned to create one."  (or something quite like that)  The physicist has a box with a tiny crank that he turns every day.  As the story ends, the dying scientist begs the narrator to keep the box and remember to turn the crank -- keeping his creation alive.  
   Dragon was the right magazine for the story.  That is how it feels keeping a game world alive.  If you stop turning the crank, your creation will fall silent.  That is probably obsessive -- but what passion is not obsessive?  The only difference between passions is a value judgement.  Gaming has not stopped me from marrying, having children and finding a career.

    I became a collector because I could.  The internet has made it possible to collect all of the old publications that used to hide in garages, closets and parents' basements.  I remember that I used to scoff at the idea of ever finding more issues of Pegasus magazine than the ones I owned.  I seriously believed that I might be one of only a handful of people who remembered the City State of the Invincible Overlord, Martian Metals, Flying Buffalo, Behind Enemy Lines, Arduin, Blibdoolpoolp, Dark Tower or The Tombs of Shale-Chun.  Where copies of those things might be was anyone's guess.

    Turns out I was wrong.

    I once saw a documentary about the Moody Blues.  At the site of the 1968 Isle of Wight Music Festival, the lead singer tried to explain what an audience of 800,000 people was like.  "From right here, where the stage was, there were people everywhere, all the way back to those hills in the distance.  Here, in the 1990's, it's hard to believe that Flower Power ever happened.  But it did.  It was real.  It really happened."

    That is sort of the way I view my game collection.  "Here it is.  It's real.  The Golden Age of Gaming really happened."  As long as it's on my shelf, someone remembers that it all really existed.
    So here I am.  I have a bookshelf or two full of game publications, a much lighter wallet and 3000 posts on the Acaeum.  It has only taken me 1500 words to say so -- which I guess truly does qualify me as a "long-winded collector."  Along the way, I have met some pretty good people on these forums and I have had some pretty good conversations.

    If anyone is still reading at this point, thank you for sticking around this long.  The third millennium of posts is complete.  Let the fourth millennium begin.
Mark  8)

"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:11 pm 

Congratulations Mark on hitting a big milestone! :D
Great post for your 3000th!

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:04 pm 

Congrats! Well done you! and a geeky hot wife to boot! HUZZAH!

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:06 pm 

Mark: Congratulations on your milestone, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and life history.  It was a compelling read.

I thoroughly enjoy your feedback on all the various topics that we discuss, and I'd also like to add how much I admire and respect the fact that you're a teacher.

Best wishes on your journey to #4000.


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:40 pm 

Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us.  If it weren't for the fact that we are both happily married and I am too old for you, I could really like you!  Keep the posts coming - I enjoy your information and your insight.

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:18 pm 

Outstanding milestone post!!! Best I've ever read. Thanks for sharing. I hope you inspire others of us to do the same. :cheers:


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:30 pm 

I've always enjoyed your reading your posts even when I didn't agree with you.  Keep 'em coming.


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:03 pm 

Congrats.  And for God's sake, keep turning the crank!



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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:36 pm 

This is why I like coming to friendly RPG forums.

Everyone here has his or her own story.  The vast majority of us will probably never appear within the pages of US Weekly, People, Time, Newsweek, or any other national or international publication.  Very few of us will ever be asked by a complete stranger about our role-playing game collections or obsessions.  9/10ths of the world's population would look at us as though we had three heads if we started talking to them about Hit Points, Armour Class, THAC0, Magic Missiles and Demiliches.

But here, we can tell our own stories of how we came to be where we came to be.  Those who don't care to listen don't have to read.  Those of us who love to hear these stories will devour them.  And those of us who enjoy lots of typing will continue to make posts about where our gaming roots came from and where they might be going with concerns to our own children, nieces, nephews, cousins and other family.

I know, I'm new.  Maybe I don't have enough "time in" yet to say something like this.  But it's how I feel anyway.  For what it's worth, great milestone.  And I hope I'm here to read the next one. :)

- Michael


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:46 pm 

MichaelC wrote:This is why I like coming to friendly RPG forums.

What he said!!

Outstanding post Mark, and a wonderful tale. To be honest I would have expected nothing else from you, a man who can always see the big picture. (Perhaps it's the educator in you :D )

3000 posts and still being nice, whatever it is your good lady is feeding you, please send me the recipe!

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:14 am 

Just think you have been here half as long as me and have twice the posts 8O

You really are a long-winded collector :)

Carry on Mark, you have lots of interesting things to say :D

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:24 am 

Congrats, I guess. Not really sure why a post count is important, but cool. Hope you stay around for more.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:51 am 

Thanks for sharing, great post !
Merci !


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:08 am 

Wonderful, Mark.  Let us know when your belt buckle and shiny plastic wallet arrive from Foul.   :D

Seriously, you're a great member here.  Mainly because of your avatar.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:49 am 


I always enjoy your insightful takes on gaming and unrelated topics. Hopefully we meet someday, we seem to agree on a lot but that's just because followers of America's Team KNOW they are supporting the greatest footall program in the history of the NFL (you should see the new stadium going up...incredible...but it will never beat those memories of either the Cotton Bowl or Irving stadium...!).  Plus. you like REH, and good music, man you need to get back HOME someday, just think how much that Left Coast retirement money will be worth in the Texas Hill Country someday!!!
Congrats on the announcement...now have to think of something as cool to say on my 3000th, just a couple years from now at this pace  8O

Mike B.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:39 am 

serleran wrote:Congrats, I guess. Not really sure why a post count is important, but cool. Hope you stay around for more.

I think the answer to your question lies in the fact that -- unlike many Internet forums -- the posts here are typically thoughtful opinions and advice about our hobby.

This, IMHO, makes 3000 posts a milestone worth noting.


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Post Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:53 pm 

Been a member since Oct of 2004 and still I am mearly prolific... or is it pathetic?

I lurked here long before posting. At least a year or so. Mostly my reason for visiting the site then was for looking up Item data for listings on E-Bay that I was interested in bidding for back then. Sometimes I would look in and read some of the threads on the forum (there were FAR fewer boards back then). I suspect there are more members who do that (lurk) even now than who post regularly.

Congrats on the announcement...now have to think of something as cool to say on my 3000th, just a couple years from now at this pace  

Yup me too. Only for me it will be more like a couple of decades rather than two years...... 8)  :lol:

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Post Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 5:09 pm 

Great post. Part of me wonders "Doesn't he have better things to do than post on the Acaeum forum?" but to be honest, there isn't much better. OK, there are a lot of things that are better, but this ranks pretty high! It's a safe harbor in an angry gaming world.

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