Douglas Niles, a legendary name for those who hail from the days of AD&D and TSR. A man whose legacy spans from the very first Forgotten Realms novels to the creation of the Dragonlance world, Doug is a New York Times Best-Seller and his work has been read and utilized by countless roleplayers. Doug is also well known for creating the groundbreaking Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide (TSR, 1986) with legends Gary Gygax and David C. Sutherland III, a book which detailed exploration of the subterranean world, a realm which was previously only hinted at and briefly explored in a few select modules. The Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide finally gave DMs the ability to craft their own adventures and full campaigns in the Underdark.
Take a short pause in your day to reflect on your D&D legacy, the RPG games that you used to play with friends when there were no limits on time and anything was possible. Take a moment and share those memories with us today in the comments section below, and if you have the time read this article where I lament over the death of my youth and subsequent loss of free time.
When I was a teenager in school, without a job, and spending summers with my friends we used to game like there was no tomorrow. Our game of choice was AD&D 2nd edition and we played in all the campaign settings. Our favorites were Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, and Dragonlance but we loved it all. We had sessions that sometimes lasted from when we awoke on a Saturday morning late into that night and then continued the following day until the weekend was gone. Those sessions are the stuff of legends, I remember them so fondly and recall how we used to game without a care in the world. No appointments, jobs, husbands or wives, or children- just good old Dungeons and Dragons!
In the good old days we didn’t dig through the Players Handbook looking for rules violations or making sure we knew exactly how this or that spell worked. We just enjoyed the fantasy and let it flow naturally, most of the time I didn’t write any adventure aside form some notes scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper behind the DM screen. We would take time out to draw maps, talk about NPCs and the future of the characters involved. Speaking of involved, my god- everyone was SO involved in each game. It wasn’t just a game, it was our world! The tales we told and the incredible journeys the Players made will be remembered forever. Once I put it this way to my best friend- “The characters and ideas we have crafted take physical manifestation in the form of cells in our mind so in a way- they are real.” Somewhere Taku Okamiya really exists, as does Derris Strongsword, Darsell Rathar, Iendelle Greenbottle, Laura Drandella, Gin, Phidel Cruze, and Alin Durqua.
The tales we spun were our own and we tended to stay away from the pre-made modules as they just felt forced. We preferred to keep it real and enjoy our own game and use the rules and campaign settings as a guide to help us along when we had need of their services.
I miss those days and now that I am older we only get together with our gaming group about once per month and 12 games a year just doesn’t feel right. Although there’s no way I can squeeze in one more thing due to my 5 jobs and playing in a band I sorely miss those days and hope they will come again soon. Perhaps you will support me so fully with NERD TREK that you and I will have a chance to game sometime for days at a time!
I would like to share some of the most memorable characters and a very brief description of each. I was always the DM yet even I enjoyed all of these unique and memorable characters.
Taku Okamiya (1998-2006) – Forgotten Realms – Hailing from the far east in Kara-Tur, Taku Okamiya ended his career with the following title: Lord Taku Okamiya, Ruler of Nesme, Guardian of the Confederation of Luruar, High Priest of Helm.
Derris Strongsword (mid-90’s) – Forgotten Realms & Planescape – Derris Strongsword was a gruff warrior who although distrusted magic eventually came to embrace it and carried all manner of magical devices which eventually led him into the planes and great quests through lava lakes and demon hordes.
Darsell Rathar (mid 90’s) – Dark Sun – Darsell Rathar was a brutal Mul (Human/Dwarf) with bulging muscles and a hot temper. Wielding two impalers and with a taste for exotic mind altering herbs found in the High Forest, Darsell slayed more NPCs and enemies than every character combined in any campaign DMed to date. He did whatever he wanted and killed whoever he wanted and his skills at wilderness survival and evading pursuing enemies and then killing them were the only reason he lived for so long.
Iendelle Greenbottle (2009-current) – Forgoten Realms – A carefree halfling rogue from Luiren, Iendelle recently discovered that she is actually a Doppleganger. When she was a child she so wished to exit the forest and join the carefree halfling she saw daily picking flowers and dancing in the fields. One day despite her mother’s pleas she spoke to the girl who was at first afraid. Over many years the two girls became friends and always met in the field near the forest. One day while walking the breathtaking cliffs near Beluir, Iendelle the halfling slipped and fell- the Doppleganger in her natural form caught her but could not hold on. She slipped from her grasp and plummeted to the rock below, but not before the Doppleganger absorbed all of her thoughts. Iendelle (who now believed she was one and the same) returned to her halfling home and unknowingly lived out the rest of her childhood there. It wasn’t until recently that the halfling found out her true past while on a mission to save the realms from Vaprak the Destroyer.
Laura Drandella (early 90’s) – Forgotten Realms – A sexy female half-elf bard who was one of the first players to discover and explore Myth-Drannor- and live to tell about it! She was a fiery broad and although many men were turned on by her, many more lost their coin purse and woke up without even a loin cloth to their name.
Gin (2008-2009) – Forgotten Realms – An elf raised by a human dictator and trained as a thief and assassin. When the truth emerged that the dictator was in league with demons and the murderer of Gin’s parents, Gin’s life was turned upside down. Now Gin lives with a life long enemy and many dangerous adversaries that pursue him to the edges of the world.
Phidel Cruze – (late 80’s/early 90’s) – Goldenhorn (custom world) – A dragon rider who was the only PC ever to own a ring of wishing, this game was wildly unbalanced, full of powerful magical items, and fun as hell!
Alin Durqua – (late 80’s/early 90’s) – Forgotten Realms – Alin Durqua discovered a magical stone in an ancient cave which was later revealed to have belonged to a now dead god. This stone offered great power with a price. You were able to open portals anywhere in the realms but one must drain the life from a soul in order to use this power. Over the course of Alin Durqua’s life he saw much of the realms, soul trapped many poor souls, changed history and thus the future of the realms, was decapitated by an overzealous necklace of strangulation, and finally resurrected as a beastman who went insane and formed a cult worshiping the new evil god Cyric at which point the player turned over his character sheet to the DM (me). He was one of the most unique characters and when originally rolled up I watched the player roll his stats STRAIGHT DOWN the line: 18, 18, 18, 17, 17, 17 and this was with regular dice- I checked them after he rolled. Insane.
There you have it, I have shared some of our favorite characters and stories. Although I gave you the incredibly brief version, I would like to hear yours now! Please share your RPG stories below, whether you are a player or DM let us enjoy our memories of the “good old days” together!