Monday, March 23, 2009

How did the Citadel come about?

If there was such a thing as an "average" gamer, then I think I would embody the concept rather well.

I started role-playing in the 1980's with First edition AD&D, started running games using the French edition of Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye RPG, a German clone of the D&D Basic boxed set), and later ran and played dozens of different RPGs. Most notably? Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, Vampire: The Masquerade and other White Wolf games. Also some French-speaking games like In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas. I still really liked D&D, unlike most of my gaming friends of the time, but moved along with the fads as they did. My love of the game was put on the backburner during all these years, until Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd edition brought me back in the year 2000.

Some time during my 3rd edition period I became weary of the abundance of mechanics in modern game designs. I have to credit 3rd edition itself, Monte Cook, and the whole OGL movement for educating me tremendously about game and adventure design and in so doing, making me more self-conscious as to my game choices and preferences.

I guess the opportunity to share thoughts with E. Gary Gygax on various boards (he was very active and welcoming all manners of questions, comments and interactions before he passed), the publication of (so-labeled) "old-school" products by various publishers such as Necromancer Games, Goodman Games and Troll Lord Games, as well as the very existence of message boards like, the Acaeum or the Knights & Knaves alehouse, gradually pointed me in the direction of vintage gaming.

I would toy with the idea of running Castles & Crusades, the Original Dungeons & Dragons (OD&D) game of 1974 I acquired from Monte Cook or the First Edition Advanced D&D (AD&D) game for some time until I finally decided it was time to let go of 3rd edition D&D and search for something that would prove to be a better fit for my gaming inclinations.

This decision wasn't made at a particular moment but rather gradually during a period of time following the announcement of the 4th edition of the D&D game. As the summer of 2007 unfolded, the Praemal Tales, my 3rd edition Ptolus campaign, had just come to a brutal end when most of the players left the island where I live for professional reasons.

As I perused through pages of 4th edition previews over the Internet, I realized this game was a complete departure from what I loved about the D&D game. I won't go into the details, since they are not the focus of this blog. Suffice to say that I wanted to love 4th edition enough to get involved in countless arguments on various message boards about what the game was and wasn't anymore. So much, in fact, that I soon realized my love of the game was irreconcilable with the Coastal Wizards' design.

I became so frustrated with this fact that I decided to step away from the Internet altogether. If I could not discuss about role-playing games like I used to, without getting upset in the process, then it was time for a break.

I took care of my life, explored other venues, but my passion for tabletop RPGs was still there, in the back of my mind. This went on for a few months, until the summer of 2008 and my trip back to France. There, visiting my family and friends, I picked up a new diary and started writing whatever came up to my mind. Soon enough, it became clear I was getting back to tabletop gaming, but the kind of games I was writing about seemed radically different.

On an impulse, I would grab a copy of the World of Greyhawk boxed set of 1983 on eBay and get really excited about it. I would start writing about the Mont St. Michel and how it could be used as the base of a megadungeon. I would remember my first game experiences and wonder how I could extract the essence that made them so exciting and, using the experience I accumulated over decades of running games, how I could move forward with it all.

Ironically, my computer died in the meantime. Back home, I was without Internet, without access to websites, messages boards, online stores to stir me into different directions. I was left with my own needs, wants and inclinations, and this allowed me to clear up my mind to some degree. It is when I finally acquired a new computer and attempted to catch up with everything that had been going on while away that my final doubts finally disappeared. The Flame was burning brighter than ever.

I finally had a sense of knowing where I was going.

I decided to reconnect with the vintage gaming communities out there. I applied for membership in the Castles & Crusades society. I acquired a copy of Castle Zagyg vol. 2 - The Upper Works. Monte Cook came up with his I found out about Pied Piper Publishing and reached out to Rob Kuntz, who I found was a very likable guy. To make a long story short, the stars were right.

This is how this Citadel of Eight came to be.

Now, it is time for me to make the most out of this opportunity and reconnect with what makes gaming the greatest passtime in the world to me. A craft I want to tend to, grow and cherish for many more years. All the tools and opportunities are there, ripe for me to seize. I just have to pick, choose, and make it all work out for me. That's what this blog is all about.


  1. Another great oldschool blog! There are never too many. I came here from your link on the S&W forum and I hope you find some Swords & Wizardry games to run. Looking forward to seeing more posts!

  2. Thanks a lot, AV! I do have my other half to play with. Worst case scenario for us will be running some solo games together. S&W/OD&D would actually be the perfect fit since she doesn't like the abundance of game mechanics and loves the concept of killings things and taking their stuff.

  3. If you ever stumble down into Idaho you are certainly welcome at my gaming table.

  4. Thanks! I'll sure consider it! I checked your own blog by the way, and let me tell you, that's a keeper. I'm now one of your "followers". Added it to my feed!

  5. Do that 'Hawk justice, Ben. :)

    Hmm... I'm more 'Elder School'. Would that be ES as opposed to OS? uhhh. I've been going since 7 this morning and perhaps should cast 'silence' upon myself now while I'm behind.

  6. Bah, you are too kind, Benoist. Thank you for looking at my blog though, I plan an oldschool contribution every day.

  7. I will do my best to do that hawk justice. I don't know about the term "Old School". This sounds WAY too... geriatric for my tastes. I like "vintage gaming" myself. It has a certain... French quality to it. ;-)

    And AV - I'll keep following!