Saturday, November 29, 2008


I started off with an interesting bit on minotaurs and monster canon, but let me back up a moment, and continue on with the introduction of purpose for this blog. I consider myself to be an old school gamer as I have been playing wargames for almost 30 years. That is a bit amazing when I think about it. I started when a good buddy of mine introduced me to some WW2 games, and I have been hooked ever since. We played Midway, Kriegspiel, 1776, and several others. My parents first bought me Richthofen's War and Origins of WW2, and I think I have been hooked ever since.

When it comes to D&D, my early experiences were with the blue Holmes version and then I moved on to AD&D. For much of the first decade of 2000, I have been playing the 3rd edition. Then along comes 4th ed. I am not saying that 4th ed is a bad version, or not a fun game, but it is not quite what I grew up on. 4th ed strikes me more as a miniature game with elements of role-playing, rather than a role-playing game with elements of miniatures. Again, I am not saying that this is bad, only that it is not exactly what I am looking for. I will save further comments on 4th ed for a later date, but suffice it to say, that I am looking for something a little different. Over the past year, I have been surprised at the interest in the older versions of the game. There are a number of fine blogs that focus their attention on the older versions. This is perhaps in part, due to the creation of retro versions of the game such as C&C, Labyrinth Lord, BFRPG, OSRIC, and Swords & Wizardry. I suppose I should not be that surprised, but it is interesting that these are all popping up now, or it maybe more accurate to say that I more aware of these older versions, and I suspect that I am not alone in this.

So with that said, the old versions are interesting to me, but I am not sure that I am ready to take that particular plunge. I think I am still looking for something a little different, but I like the philosophical position on gaming that is found with my old school peers. I call them peers, as it is becoming evident that there is a large number of us in our middle ages looking to recapture the fun of our youth, and we do have a shared purpose in that. While I do enjoy a friendly game of poker with the guys, I also enjoy other games, and that includes games with a fantasy flavor that have slaying dragons as their outwardly stated goal. To be honest, I have nothing against dragons, but I guess it is the same feeling as a big game hunter going after a dangerous animal in Africa. My prey is a bit larger, and more dangerous, but it only exists in a shared world of folks gathered around a table rolling dice.

After deciding that 4th ed is not my game of choice, and the old versions of the game do not resonate with me either, I am left with a middle ground, which I think works for me. Paizo is publishing the final version of their rules in August of 2009. I think it is accurate to say that it is version 3.75, as it represents evolution of the 3rd ed rules. In general I like what I am reading, and I really like what they are doing with their campaign setting. I have decided that I will be using their setting, and I am putting my FR campaign to rest. The FR setting will be a discussion in another blog, so I will leave it at that for the moment.

To bring this full circle, I like what Paizo is doing with Pathfinder, but I am looking to inject a bit of old school flavor to the mix. I touch of the older versions to a new school version. My new campaign will kick off in Sept 2009, when I get back from China, so this blog will serve as commentary of old school meets new school in the creation of something that will interest me, and I hope that engages my players and readers as well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Save our Minotaurs!

The minotaur is just misunderstood. It is just an animal that needs love and affection, just like we all do. The minotaur is really a heroic beast that was slandered by the Greeks, especially that villain, Theseus.

WHOOOAAA! STOP! Pull that nonsense bus over. What is this about minotaurs being good guys? What kind of garbage is this?

Canon is an interesting thing. It is different than methodology or mechanics, and clearly can be changed to fit the world, campaign or game system. It’s a bit different than style, although the two are easily confused. For me, the basic essence of canon is important. There is a bit of tradition built into canon. Canon after awhile can become its own mythology. I think when Gary Gygax initially penned D&D, he had a certain canon in mind, which was heavily influenced by mythology and the pulp sword and sorcerery of the 1900's. I will go on to say that the pulp sword and sorcerery was in fact heavily influenced by ancient mythology. Once could even go as far as to say that western civilization is significantly influenced by Greek and Roman mythology.

Now to bring this back around to my opening comments. In my mind, I have definite ideas on mythology and canon that resonate well with me. It is as if I have an internal conductor that plays a symphony that keeps everything in a certain harmony. I call this natural internal canon. This is what just feels right. Minotaurs as good guys does not feel right at all. I am very much aligned to the Greek mythology, and I really like what Game's Workshop did with their canon on the minotaur. They have coined the name Doom Bull for the war like leaders of minotaurs and their lesser beast men kin, and I like this idea a lot.

It possibly began with Dragonlance and it was present in Monte Cook's Ptolus that Minotaurs were a part of the natural background, and could be good guys. In fact one person mentioned that he wanted to have his minotaurs running an underground railroad of sorts to help fair maidens escape oppressive masters. Needless to say, this felt like nails across a blackboard. Minotaurs helping maidens? What???? Yikes! What is the world coming to? Next we will have cats and dogs living together.....this is truly terrible!

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all about mixing things up, but sometimes, bad guys need to remains bad guys. Now I get the appeal of Drizzt Do'Urden, and there is a certain fascination about the bad guys. But when traditional bad guys turn good, it feels a bit much. The occasional example is ok, but anything more just over the top wackiness. I would even go far as to say that truly rotten bad guys that remain truly rotten remain bad guys, is actually a good thing. I have teased my son that you can't have a good guy without a bad guy. Let the bad guys be bad guys!

I do recognize that I am going to have folks disagree with me, and I think that is what makes the discussion on canon all the more interesting. I think folks can get worked up on canon, and I think it has to do with the person's internal conductor and what resonates with them. I like my canon to be heavily influenced by traditional mythology, and I think the original canon penned up by Gygax remains one of the best synthesized canon that has ever seen print.

While there maybe some out there that like a tamer, more civilized sort of minotaur, I will take mine extra grungy, with a healthy dose of villiany!

"Minotaur" is Greek for "Bull of Minos." The bull was known in Crete as Asterion, a name shared with Minos's foster father. In Greek mythology, the Minotaur (Greek: Μῑνώταυρος, Mīnṓtauros) was a creature that was part man and part bull. It dwelt at the center of the Labyrinth, which was an elaborate maze-like construction built for King Minos of Crete and designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus who were ordered to build it to hold the Minotaur. The historical site of Knossos is usually identified as the site of the labyrinth. The Minotaur was eventually killed by Theseus.

Peace, love and minotaurs!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grognards and Grumblin'

When searching for a name for my new blog, I had a number of really catchy ones that I liked, however, Deanna crossed off a couple from my list. There were a couple of others that I liked, but they really made no sense for my blog title. So, I decided on this one, which I am liking quite a bit now....which brings us to the question of, what's a grognard anyway...

Grognard is French for "grumbler".

It is not necessarily pejorative and is sometimes used as a compliment. Historically it meant a soldier in Napoleon's army, particularly a member of the Old Guard. It subsequently became an internet pop culture meme. According to Alan Emrich, "grognard" came to mean a veteran wargamer in the early 1970s. It was first used by John Young, at that time an employee of SPI, and subsequently popularised by Strategy & Tactics magazine. From wargaming, the term moved to role-playing games where it was used to mean someone who preferred older-than-current editions of a game (for example, a person who stayed with first edition Dungeons & Dragons even after the second or third editions were released). Nowadays, in colloquial usage, particularly on the internet, it refers to someone who has been involved in a hobby or pastime for a long period, particularly those involved in earlier phases of a now-popular hobby. It is still most often used with reference to wargames or role-playing games.

The Old Guard was the name of the veterans of the French Army's Imperial Guard under Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Old Guard served Napoleon since his earliest campaigns. All soldiers within the 1st Grenadiers, 1st Chasseurs, and the Sergeants of the 2nd Grenadiers, Chasseurs, and Fusiliers were in the Old Guard Infantry, while the Mounted Gendarmes, Grenadiers a Cheval, Guard Empress Dragoons, Mamelukes, Chasseurs a Cheval, and 1st (Polish) Lancer Regiments bore that honour for the Cavalry.

It is believed that Napoleon hand-selected members of his Old Guard based on physical traits, most notably above-average height. Their imposing stature was likely impressive to foes and allies alike.

The Old Guard Grenadiers were known to complain in the presence of the Emperor, giving them the nickname, Les Grognards. After being disbanded by the victorious Sixth Coalition in 1814, the Old Guard along with the rest of the Imperial Guard was reformed after Napoleon's return from exile on Elba, and later fought at the Battle of Waterloo. The Old Guard Infantry were pivotal in the defense of the town of Plancenoit against the Prussians, and served as a kind of rear guard after the failure of the attack of the Middle Guard on the British Center. The Old Guard Cavalry had the misfortune to be involved in the wasteful midday charges against the British infantry, and were unavailable at the decisive moments of the battle. Napoleon had used up every last reserve except the Old Guard. Faced with overwhelming firepower and numbers, they fell, and were forced to retreat.

So with all that said, I like the historical roots of the word, and I suspect that there will be plenty of grumblin' going on to make the Old Guard proud!

First Post - Welcome!

Welcome to The Grumblin' Grognard!

This will be my ongoing gaming blog, where I post items of interest that have to do with gaming. My other blog - will be used for updates on my journeys in China, family stuff, sports, movies, and other items of that nature.

With that said, let the blogging begin!