The Open Gaming License (OGL), which as far as I know was pioneered by Wizards of the Coast with their 3rd Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, sparked a massive heat wave of third party publications. Suddenly, anyone could use the d20 system to publish their own settings, scenarios, games, sourcebooks, etc. Gamers no longer had to expect new material solely from Wizards of the Coast, and that meant new stuff almost every day. Whole new games, with genres sometimes far removed from fantasy sword-n-sorcery, started filling local game-store shelves.
Unfortunately for some (like me) it seemed at the time to be the death knell of anything that wasn’t d20. Do you remember when I said earlier that there was a decade or so that I hated anything D&D? You’ve probably already guessed that OGL came on the scene during that time. It didn’t help any. At the time, I was already struggling to find good games, mostly Sci-Fi and contemporary espionage stuff. I was a little interested when I found out about d20 Modern later on, but I just couldn’t accept the whole levels and classes thing. Especially levels. I swore I would never succumb to the d20 plague.
Years later, about 7 years ago, I fell in with a group of gamers in the nearby town. The “leader” of this group was already running a pretty successful game of his own creation, and excitement for that game was running high in the group. Being the outsider (and BTW, they never made me feel like an outsider; they were very welcoming) I asked around to see if there was anything that I could run that they might be interested in. Take a guess as to what it was. D&D. Only, not the current 3rd Edition.
So I started an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition game with three players. Within the first month it had grown to over twelve players. Every weekend. Debate raged during the game over which edition we should be using. It would have been a pretty easy decision, but the current GM I mentioned earlier was set on 2nd, and was a hard sell for edition 3.5. Eventually, we did switch over, and the resulting campaign (regardless of edition) ran for almost a solid year, and was one of the best games I’d ever DM’d. Running so many players on what became an epic series of adventures really turned me around on D&D, and since then I’ve become a real advocate for the game, especially the new (as of this writing) 5th Edition.
So here I am today. I’m playing in a 3.5 game with the best DM I’ve ever met, and I’m running a 5E game for those days we don’t have all the players available. I’m enjoying the hell out of both stories (I’m especially happy with the world concept I’ve come up with for the 5E game), and just recently “came out” to my Public Speaking class in college as being a Dungeons and Dragons player. It was just a joke, but the class seemed to really enjoy it. I don’t mean in any way to disparage the real difficulty anyone has ever had “coming out” in a real way… if you’re a gamer and you have to hide that fact sometimes socially, you’ll understand what I meant.
Long story short, Dungeons and Dragons started me down this path of being a complete nerd, but I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m still trying to find that “perfect” game, especially a Sci-Fi game, but in the meantime, I’ll keep playing and DM’ing just about every game I can get my hands on, including the GrandDaddy of them all, Dungeons and Dragons. Gary Gygax, bless your heart!