Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Am I a Grognard?

I have to admit that I have stumbled into what appears to me to be a magnificent era for RPGs. I have been off the radar, so to speak, for a number of years. My playing days went on hiatus for four years while I went back to school, and even before that I failed to jump onto the 3.0 bandwagon. Thus, until recently, I was completely unaware of the OGL and the veritable garden it has produced. For me, the most exciting (and unexpected) aspect of this flowering of the D&D system has been the advent of the retro-clones. God bless Don Proctor, Stuart Marshall, Matt Finch and all of the others who have so lovingly produced their visions of the game I played as a kid. The variety of choice we now have today for the game we love to play is incredible. I only hope that there is enough support and growth out there to support this lush field that I find myself in.

I have also stumbled across a term that I find fascinating — the grognard. It is a term, I must admit, that greatly appeals to me, and I wonder if I deserve the mantle. I played war games before I role played. I was heavily involved in miniature war games just prior to going back to school because I had no desire to play 3rd edition. I own the original edition Chainmail and have actually played it. However, my introduction to D&D was the Holmes edition, and I jumped onto the AD&D bandwagon long before I ever found the OD&D ruleset, which I do own, but never played. There are aspects of the 3.0 and 3.5 rulesets I do enjoy, intellectually. However, the next game I ever Referee (yes, Referee), I will insist on using Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, or OSRIC in that order of preference. Regardless of which edition I use, I will seriously consider stealing some of the mechanics used by Jason Vey's Spellcraft & Swordplay, especially his take on Vancian magic, as it is inspired by the magic system of Chainmail.

Does this make me a grognard? In a way, yes. However, behind the term "grognard" is a way of doing things and living a life that are the very things that years ago attracted me to Orthodox Christianity.

Orthodoxy has a deep respect for the past, for the wisdom of those who came before, and is loathe to change for the sake of change. However, it does take what has been given it and engages the culture around it to see how that encounter can transform the culture and enrich what has come before. If I may be so bold, this is exactly what the term grognard and the retro-clone movement are all about (or at least should be about). If this is so, I was a grognard in the way I live my everyday life, long before it became a term that describes my gaming inclinations. If this is so, I embrace the term whole-heartedly.


Stelios V. Perdios said...


I believe you are the first person I have come upon to address both real world monotheism and gaming, and not in some abstract way. Usually, game designers and sci-fi writers avoid references to Christianity, unless they have some quick point to make before moving on.

My campaign world, Domikka, draws upon material mostly from the Old Testament. Yet I look forward to catching up on your ideas on Orthodox Christianity and gaming.

My blog is, if you care to visit.

Have a great day!

Chris said...

For commenting on a 2008 post on the topic and out of respect for the past, I guess I'll be a grognard too!

FrDave said...

Lol! It is interesting going back and reading this. I ended up playing LL, not S&W, and came to find that my favorite iteration of D&D is actually BX. Huh...