Two Flavors of Nostalgia

Well, this is turning into a week or nostalgia. It’s come in two flavors: happy and sad.

Reading the new Tolkien book, the Children of Hurin, is making me happy. It’s reminding me how I got into fantasy fiction and thus into gaming in the first place. If any other author opened a novel with two pages of genealogy, I’d put it down. For Tolkien though it works, because it mirrors the real world mythology he was building off and really does inform the entirety of the story. And just because his style has been imitated badly by countless authors, there’s no reason to write off its originator.

The story will be familiar to anyone who read Unfinished Tales. It’s basically a novel-length version of the tale of Turin and his sister, edited together by Christopher Tolkien from many drafts and pieces left by his father. Although Christopher tries to give readers unfamiliar with the Silmarillion enough background to make sense of the story, I think you really need to be familiar with the bigger picture of the First Age of Middle Earth to fully appreciate it. Even if you haven’t read the Silmarillion though, I’d recommend the Children of Hurin. It’ll show you how deep Tolkien’s mythology was before he even started working on the Lord of the Rings, and how it informed everything that happened in those books.

Unfortunately, this week also brought the news that the magazines Dragon and Dungeon are being taken behind the shed and shot. As with many gamers, Dragon in particular played a big part in my introduction to hobby gaming. I remember getting a subscription when I was 12 years old and it opened up a new world to me. I learned about new authors from Giants in the Earth, I discovered new games through the reviews section, and I got a wealth of material to make my D&D; games better. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on game books back then, so Dragon was really important to me. It gave me a monthly dose of my hobby and kept me connected to what was going on.

The current state of D&D; has been making me sad for some time now, so perhaps this announcement is a fitting coda. D&D; today just doesn’t seem like the same game that captured my imagination when I was 10 years old and under its current custodians I don’t see that changing.

I wish all my compadres at Paizo good luck in navigating the waters of the RPG market sans the D&D; logo. I look forward to seeing what they have up their sleeves.

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