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Who is this guy?

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Hello everyone! This will just be a short post to let you know who I am, and why Iím here.

My name is Walt, and Iíve been playing and running RPGís for a long time. I got started with D&D back in 1979, using the original books plus Holmes Basic, and I started as a DM in 1981. Iíve played or run at least 25 systems, and in a range of genres, but the great bulk of my GM experience is with AD&D (1st edition) and D&D 3.5.

I run homebrew settings almost exclusively. When I started out, one of the big attractions of RPGís was that once you had the rulebooks and dice all you needed was paper, pencils and a good imagination. As long as you had those, you could play for as long as you wanted. Since I didnít have a lot of money, that sounded very appealing.

I had a hard time finding anyone locally who played (I lived in a small town in Iowa at the time) but eventually I found a group and talked my way in. In one session I was hooked, and there was no looking back.

My first experience as a GM was in 1981, running a summer program at the local library (where I also worked). My original plan had been to run the only module I owned (B2, Keep on the Borderlands, which came with the Holmes Basic set) but some of the kids had already played it, so I had to write my own dungeon. It went pretty well, and the die was cast (so to speak).

In college it was easy to find games, and I spent much too much time playing all the RPGís of the day. I was usually asked to DM, and I didnít mind doing it, but since I still was broke I still had to write my own adventures and settings. Eventually, though, I moved out of state, as did some of the other regular players in our group, and that was that. I tried to find or start groups in my new hometown, but they never stayed together for long. I still stayed in touch with my old college chums, and we all still wanted to game, but of course we were spread all over the country by then.

In 2008 my wife and I were at Gen Con, and we happened to see the Smiteworks booth. We hadnít really heard of virtual tabletops before, but the rolling dice caught our eye, and the promise of gaming with our old friends held our imagination. We downloaded the demo and tried it with several folks from our old group, and everyone agreed that we should try to reboot the old campaign and play it online. We purchased our licenses, and we have never regretted it. We play once or twice a month, as schedules allow, running in the same campaign, and with some of the same characters that we started with back in 1988. It has been huge fun.

In this blog I plan to write about my experiences with reuniting the old group and rebooting the old campaign. I also hope to write about some of the things I have learned in 35 years of DMíing and creating homebrew campaigns, as well as some of the things I have learned about using virtual tabletops in general, and FG in particular.

If you have questions, comments, criticisms, or something youíd like to hear more about please leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

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  1. ddavison's Avatar
    It's hard to believe that was almost 8 years ago. Wow, the time has really flown by. My first Gen Con experience was in 2010 when I ran the SmiteWorks booth for the first time.
  2. Phystus's Avatar
    Yeah, time really flies. I think back then Smiteworks was still owned by the fellows from Finland. It's amazing how far the product has come since then.
  3. Skellan's Avatar
    Out of interest did you still have the original character sheets?
  4. Phystus's Avatar
    For the characters in the old campaigns? We had some of the character sheets. Luckily, I had made mini-sheets for all the characters on 3x5 index cards that I had kept clipped to the DM screen, so I had their stats, important magic items, and so forth. The wizard still had her character sheet and spell list, so we were pretty well set.

    We converted from 1st Edition AD&D to D&D 3.5 when we restarted since there wasn't a ruleset for AD&D at the time. So the characters changed quite a bit, particularly the multiclassed characters and the ranger.

    I also still had all the maps, old adventures, and notes, along with a database I had built of all the important NPC's (which I hope to blog about at some point). So I was in a pretty good position to reboot the campaign and carry on with the original storylines. I guess there are advantages to being a packrat after all!
  5. Bart Savagwood's Avatar
    As a character in the aforementioned campaign, I'd say that it's been a great way to maintain contact with old friends like Phystus here. I was one of the first ones he approached about it, and I've been on board with it ever since. Being adults though, with careers, kids (and/or pets), completely different time zones, it's been a challenge at times, but it's always been great fun. Phystus is a great DM.

    And remember kids: Always, always, suck up to the DM...

    I still had my character sheets (are all old-time DnD'ers packrats?) as well. I retired my F/MU/T rather than convert him, but kept my Cleric. He'll be old enough to be POTUS in 2024, too. Time to start the write-in campaign!

    Your public awaits, Phystus! Start writin'...
  6. Phystus's Avatar
    Aw, shucks!

    Seriously though, I've gotten to chat with my old buddies a LOT more since we started the online game, and that's really been the best part. Gaming with people who have careers and families is certainly a challenge, but it's totally worth it. Plus, it will make great material for future blog posts!

    And I'd totally vote for your cleric. If he broke his campaign promises I could hit him with lightning!
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