Right. So. It's Ye Olde 3.5 Edition D&D. Eberron. The players are Snakeheart, who was in the Traveller game and the LotFP game as well as a few other random things I've run over the past couple of years, Munchkin, for whom the LotFP game was her first introduction to D&D, and Dangerfox, who'd played a session of Vampire: the Masquerade before this but is otherwise new to RPGs. (The names are not internet handles or blog names. This is honestly what I call these people. Their real names are boring, so I improved them.)
Munchkin is running Mirithia, a halfling druid ("You insulted my dinosaur!"), Snakeheart is running Waywocket, a gnome bard ("Break his legs!") and Dangerfox is running a warforged fighter whom the other two currently refer to as "Mr. Huggable," although they've gone through a handful of other options already and are pretty sure that won't be the one they settle on ("I'm going to start developing a personality now.").
We've had two sessions and they've both gone pretty well. I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to achieve my aims in this exercise. I'm not, honestly, even sure there's going to be another session. We've missed the last couple of weekends due to spring break and musicals and just life in general, but we're at a good place to pick it up next weekend and I'm hoping we'll get at least a few more sessions in before the end of the semester.
My reasons for deciding to go back and run this system that I've sworn off for so long -- I've threatened to sell my books on more than one occasion, as I possess a number entirely unreasonable -- are fairly simple. For whatever reason, the games I've been trying to run over the past few years haven't worked. They have been, in places, fun, but they've too often been too intensely frustrating for me to justify my continued participation in the activity. I didn't want to just quit, so I thought -- I'll go back and run the game the way I remember doing when it was fun. The old school method, if you will.
Frustration with roleplaying is, incidentally, a big part of why this blog's been unusually quiet lately. There have been a couple of times in the past six months or so when I have very nearly sworn off the hobby entirely. I haven't been having fun with running games, and I've been getting involved with other activities -- board games, anime, actually being a player for once, and just lately even a bit of Magic: The Gathering. Add in that I've finally discovered how to have a social life that doesn't entirely revolve around D&D, the job finding and school finishing business of senior year, and a few life-related odds and ends, and yeah, quiet.
Still. At one point I really enjoyed running games, and if at all possible I'd like to enjoy it again. And if I am going to end up quitting, I'd like to be dang sure that the whole thing really doesn't work for me any more, and not just that what I've been doing lately hasn't been quite right.
I have a few hypotheses for why the old ways worked for me and the new ones (which are in fact the old ones) haven't, some relevant to this game, some not. I'm pretty sure that part of it was simply that 3.5e, in high school, was the game that everyone knew, intimately, past the point of needing translation. That's obviously not the case now, with a batch full of new players, but this campaign is beginning to bear out the usefulness of other, more translatable points of style. Among other things, I like having a handful of race class combos to hang characters on, it's handy every so often to be able to drop a combat encounter on the gang to give me some time to think, and the skill system is a decent safety net when I'm not quite sure how to respond to what the players want to try.
A lot of it, though, is simply the nostalgia of the thing. I miss these books. The 3.5e tomes, the silly looking, wannabe-spell books whose covers clearly aren't nearly as cool as something with actual art on them, are D&D to me. I'd missed that, and while it's not the same as it was, I'm glad to have something like it back for a bit.