Geek Retrospectives


The party made their way slowly down the corridor. Leading was Raftor the Brave, followed closely by Roder the dwarf. Bringing up the rear were the wizard Pyhus and Felonius, the group’s thief. They came to a door, which marked the end of the corridor. Raftor tried the door; it was locked. Felonius got out his tools and went to work on the door, while Roder and Pyhus kept a look out. Signalling that the door was now unlocked, Felonius nodded. Raftor kicked down the door and burst into the room with sword at the ready, the others closely following.

From the light given off by the wizard’s magic lantern, Raftor made out the shapes of five goblins with daggers at the ready, attacking.

Suddenly, a booming voice said “Roll for initiative!” and two giant dice came tumbling down squashing Felonius and two goblins. The party of adventurers had gained initiative, and Raftor attacked first. A huge twenty-sided die came crashing down in the corner flattening the remaining goblins. As the remainder of the party gathered around the crumpled body of the fallen thief, two giant hands descended, and grabbed the huge dice. The booming voice spoke out once more: “That’s enough for this session. See you all on Wednesday.”

— from Toxic Custard 14, October 1990.

The inventor of Dungeons And Dragons, Gary Gygax just died. Not at the hands of a goblin — it was natural causes.

I played D&D a bit in high school. A few of us did the occasional lunchtime and weekend session in years 7/8, and I had a go of Advanced D&D in the following years. At one point I had all the (basic) D&D rule books, a bunch of player character sheets, a stack of graph paper, and a full set of those funny dice. I had a go a designing my own scenarios, but they were never as successful as the professional ones. Child And Adult in Elsternwick sold all the gear.

For a while there in the mid-80s, D&D was quite popular. There was a cartoon adaption on morning TV, and a magazine called Dragon. At one point I encountered a Fundamentalist Christian brochure claiming it was all about devil worship.

It was D&D that got me into computer games like Ultima — which I played a LOT, leading at one stage — with friends Conrad and Konrad — to attempting to write a clone of it on the BBC Micro.

When I first watched Fellowship of the Ring, I was struck by how similar that was to a D&D game. Which I guess just shows how much D&D was influenced by Tolkien.

Unlike some things from my youth (such as classic video games), I’ve got no real urge to revisit D&D, but it does bring back some happy memories. And it leaves me wondering what I did with all that D&D stuff I used to have.

PS. The character names in the piece above were nicked from D&D characters my friends and I had.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

9 replies on “Goblins!”

Brings back memories – was real big with the year 7s in 1984, though I never played.

The ‘smart set’ of the ‘smart class’ played it, exclusively male. Wonder where they all now.

They also did some pretty impressive things with cuttlefish & molten lead – either D&D characters and the occasional 20c piece.

My brother and his friends played this in the early 80’s. I was never really interested in the game myself. When my brother lost interest the dice became decorations in our fish tank.

My mates and I used to play too. Somehow I managed to talk the dungeon master into letting me have two main characters who were brothers; Amroth (a name I nicked from LOTR) and Amrhaq (a name I made up) were both wizards.
I even made up wills, bequeathing all their spells and other magical powers to each other should one of them die in battle. Amroth did eventually die, which made Amrhaq one powerful mother! My memory’s a vague now, but I think that once Amrhaq got Amroth’s powers (in addition to his own) he was powerful enough to bring his brother back to life again – LOL!

Where’s my stuff? Still on the bookshelf in the study! I still browse game stores and pick up the core rules and will buy the soon to be released 4th Edition…

Just dont seem to play now though :(

The manbeast took this particularly hard – all his mates with him. They have a reguarly gaming group and all have been playing since they were big enough to role a dice.

Brother who is just about to move to San Fran sold our original Advanced D&D manuals on ebay just recently. He got a reasonable amount for them – apparently D&D is now collectable.

I am sending this article to my brother. He has played with certain friends for the past 20 years or so. I don’t know if they still play but they probably do when my brother is down here (he lives about 50 miles north of here).

Take care
j :) :)

I played reqularly from the age of 16 to 23. I’ve taken a break since then (37 now), but my group (minus a couple MIA) are starting agin this weekend. I’ve been going back over the rules and there’s sooo much that I’d forgotten: infravision, initiative, backstabbing and spell casting.

We are all looking forward to the game, a time to get away from our lives (and wives) for a few hours, knock back a few Bundy & cokes and tame the untamable.

I’m the DM and I’ve still got a bit to relearn in a few short days…

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