Friday, July 1, 2016

G.R.O.S.S. - Gamers Realizing Original School Success


Hail and well met, Internet traveler!

My name is Michael Gross. Welcome to my G.R.O.S.S. blog. As a fan of both puns and acronyms, I am throwing my Gross hat into the blogosphere and hoping it catches wind. Or people's attention.

I have created this blog to talk about Original School Role-playing Gaming, both in general and specific to The World of Greyhawk, as written by E. Gary Gygax, in both its 1980 Folio and 1983 Boxed Set forms. Therefore most of my experience & enjoyment from these games fit squarely in the hole pegged as "OSR," what is known as Old School Role-playing. (Note that the R in OSR has been rendered to mean Renaissance, Reference, Retro(active), Role-playing, and many other R words.)

I prefer the term, "Original School" to "Old School," because some worthies playing role-playing games never stopped playing the games that were released prior to the year 2000. 2000 was the year that the company Wizards of the Coast, in its pre-Hasbro ownership days, released the Third Edition of the world's most popular role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

Many folks did not hop aboard the new iteration of the game, preferring to play Original D&D as created by Dave Arneson and E. Gary Gygax (1974), the 1977 D&D Basic Set with the rules revised by Dr. J. Eric Holmes, the 1977-1979 Advanced D&D rules by Gygax, the 1981 D&D Basic & Expert Sets revised by Tom Moldvay & David 'Zeb' Cook, respectively; the 1983 D&D Sets revised by Frank Mentzer, the 1989 Second Edition of AD&D, the 1991 D&D "Black Box" and Rules Cyclopedia versions of the original game, and/or the revised Second Edition of AD&D released in 1995. All of these were released by the company, TSR, Inc. (Tactical Studies Rules).

I am also a fan of the Groo the Wanderer comics by Sergio Aragones (along with Mark Evanier, Stan Sakai, Tom Luth, and others). It is my hope to have fun and learn while discussing role-playing games, classic Greyhawk, and Groo. Like Groo, I expect to frequently err.

I have long enjoyed playing in and talking about The World of Greyhawk, whose planet is called Oerth. Oerth can be pronounced however one likes, to make it one's own. Gygax, its creator and co-creator of role-playing games with the production of the original Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game in 1974, liked to pronounce it, "Oith." He felt that it annoys those who take fantasy worlds too seriously. I prefer the two-syllable pronunciation, "O-erth," myself (as it was pronounced in the Atari PC game, "The Temple of Elemental Evil"), but I appreciate Gary's humor.

I currently have several World of Greyhawk campaigns going (albeit sporadically, as time allows) and one on hiatus. The one on hiatus is the oldest and longest. It is taking place on the border of The Pomarj and The Principality of Ulek, where I have set The Keep on the Borderlands as well as the A series of modules from Troll Lord Games (TLG) -- namely, modules A1 - A4. Coincidentally, these are not all that far from the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) "A series" of modules from TSR since they occur in The Pomarj, as well. The next-oldest campaign takes place beyond the Flanaess, far to the west of The Sea of Dust, where I have attached The Haunted Highlands campaign setting authored by Casey Christofferson and produced by TLG. Oddly, the players wanted to have their PCs travel east to pick up where their other PCs left off, so last session this campaign featured a portal that led to the Pomarj/Ulek borderlands. Finally, the most recently-started group campaign began this past autumn, in November 2015. It is set on Lendore Isle of The Spindrift Isles. It features the classic "L series" of TSR modules for AD&D. The most recent solo campaign is set in Idee. I have this set up so my son and I can play at a moment's notice but also I am running it strictly in AD&D so I can brush up on the game I had to stop playing when life changed for me upon graduating high school in 1990.

I have set my fantasy RPG games in Greyhawk more than in any other setting. It is the setting that caught my eye when it was released in its box set form in 1983 and even prior to that as players & DM's were given glimpses of it in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide and various AD&D adventure modules. (It still amuses me that I first saw it in a card store, of all places, as the store sold TSR modules and role-playing games from an end-cap display. They never carried a lot, but they had the newest modules out, without fail, until the mid-to late 80s.)

Upon receiving the 1983 box set not long after its release, I dove into the Glossography and Guide books while keeping the map -- composed of two HUGE pieces -- unfolded and at the ready for my referencing on my bedroom floor. I became enamored of the Sheldomar Valley, Keoland, the Ulek states, and of course The Free City of Greyhawk. Together with the 1979 AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, the box set inspired me to run adventures and to long to be an adventurer on Oerth. I had already been doing both in our unnamed hodgepodge world of adventures since 1980 (as I did not know about the 1980 World of Greyhawk Folio until several years later), but giving the adventures of the past, present, and future a common ground with a storied past made them all the more entertaining.

I look forward to sharing more soon! If you are also an RPG, AD&D, and/or Greyhawk fan, I will see how we can interlink pages/blogs since I am quite new to blogging.

Happy gaming,

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