Oh, you lying liar! And your lies! : A tale from the Dorkside, now with link

Once in a while I check out my “referrers” to see what blogs or sites have linked to me. I stumbled across one that, as I read an older post, I recognized as being written by someone I played D&D with briefly in high school. His post was about the “death of a gaming group“* and it was jawdroppingly … wrong. Strangely he was pretty kind to me in the post, but wants to blame my older bro for ruining everything — the way he tells the story, my brother forced everyone to play in his crappy games instead of the awesome game they had going with another DM (he uses the word “usurped”!), and brutalized and humiliated all the players, and everyone stopped playing D&D. He goes on to characterize my brother as some kind of loser because he lived at home going to college, and was an obnoxious freeloading vegetarian. And “within a few months, the group fell apart” under the trauma of my brother’s presence.

Which would be news to everyone else involved, frankly.

<Update: Things are mostly sorted now, no hard feelings.  Move along.>

I posted this here because Greg won’t approve my comment on his post (my response there was much more polite and forgiving than I am now), and I don’t like seeing him mischaracterize me or my brother. He’s posted other things to his blog since I left my comment so he’s had a chance to see what I wrote and decided not to allow me tell my side of the story. Cool beans, it’s his blog; this is mine. I know you’re not supposed to get into internet arguments but this about something I was there for and it really sucks that Greg has to smear my brother with all that stereotyped ‘crazy gamer’ crap.

What actually happened, was:

My family moved to Ohio at the end of 1988. Within a few months of being at school, the locals stopped being too scared to talk to me (a big quiet dude with a mullet who listened to metal), and I got to know this kid Andy, who also played D&D, and I invited him over to play with me & my brother, who DMed.

The game blew Andy’s mind. He couldn’t stop talking about it and wanted to play again ASAP and got Dave, his other DM, to invite me over to play in their game. There I met Greg (author of the post mentioned above) and a bunch of other guys. Actually Aurora was a tiny town then and I had probably met them all earlier but I was meeting them now as gamers. Things went OK (I was the first player to play a half-orc in their group, I think!) and I got Tom invited to join too, and soon Tom was DMing instead of Dave.

Dave still DMed sometimes, running DragonQuest and other things, but his campaigns tended to peter out. He was busy and a lot of us preferred Tom’s DMing style.

Within a few months Greg stopped playing, and the guys who knew him better than me wrote it off as “Greg’s busy working” (he worked at McDonald’s) and “marching band is taking all his time.” Whatever. We all figured he just didn’t feel like playing D&D any more; he had other priorities. Fair enough.

The next year there was an expansion of the gaming group. We met a couple of guys from Twinsburg, the next town over, at the Neovention in Akron. They played for a while and became tight with one of our players, Dennis, and by the spring of senior year (1990) there was a blow-out that involved some juvenile hi jinks and misdemeanors and the “old group” was no more, and splintered into two more cohesive groups. The group me & my brother were in consisted of most of the old Aurora gang, plus four or five more people; we often had ten players at the table. Of course the addition and subtraction of players meant that the “old group” Greg remembers was really just a snapshot he remembers. It grew and changed after he stopped coming until it wasn’t what he remembered at all. That’s life.

So Greg got the basic narrative wrong, and also many details. He has a couple of anecdotes, one about a bad Boot Hill session that ended in a TPK and one about a time when my brother demanded that a vegetarian pizza be ordered when we got pizza but didn’t pony up. Pretty much every detail given is wrong.

  • Both me & my brother were vegetarians, and while he claims we freeloaded, I really doubt that. Maybe the other guys offered to pay for the pizza once since we always played at our house, and Greg had sticker shock when he realized vegetarians don’t want to eat something that has meat on it, so a cheese pizza had to be ordered too. There would have been at least seven guys playing at that time and I don’t think it was realistic for the group to get by on the two pizzas they ordered when there were five players. The details in Greg’s post have some veracity to them — he is still shocked, 23 years later, that you can’t just pick the pepperoni off a pizza slice and call it vegetarian. (Yes, as a matter of fact, it’s not ok to offer most vegetarians pizza with the meat picked off, any more than the gentle reader would want to eat a slice of shit pizza with the shit picked off. Sorry.) The truth is I have no memory of our pizza ordering habits 23 years ago. Obviously he was traumatized by it all. Sorry, dude!
  • Tom was not a killer DM but he did believe in challenging us, and your PC could die. He never bullied or harassed or “tortured” the players (to use Greg’s term), but neither did he pull his punches or allow constant do-overs. I guess that was not Greg’s preferred play style. Greg mentions in another post how awesome it was to play solo with the other DM so maybe the issue is he just preferred Dave as a DM. Somehow I don’t think anyone ever forbade them to play whatever the hell they wanted.
  • He complains about spending a long time making up Boot Hill characters only to have them die. The Boot Hill game was indeed quick because the players started shooting up a bar. An Old West bar is not a dungeon. Sorry.
  • Did Tom live at home for part of his college years? Hell yes. We’d moved from out of state and he couldn’t afford out-of-state tuition AND an apartment, and anyway he worked all through high school & college, so I don’t know where any of that BS about him/us not contributing pizza money comes from.
  • The gaming group did not die when Greg left. It went on strong until the mid 1990s (all of us had graduated from high school by 1990). We added a lot of people Greg never met and lost one other player Greg started with but groups change. We played a ton every break when we were all back in town from college and we played in Kent when me & Dave were in Graduate school and Tom was pursuing an engineering degree and other guys were just working. This went on until at least 1996, maybe a little longer.

My point is, I guess his experiences were not as much fun as they were for the rest of us and while he’s entitled to his own opinions he’s not entitled to his own facts.

I mentioned the post to Tom, to see what his take was, but he could not remember Greg at all. He basically said, “You know, I always tried to treat people right. I’ve done some mean stuff as a kid but I remember the things I did that were wrong and I don’t remember this guy at all.”

The ridiculous thing is that after 23 years, this guy is bent out of shape about how a new DM destroyed his gaming group, and what actually happened is he left the group without even airing his grievances or telling anyone what was upsetting him. Um, OK. Some of the players might have missed you, but we kept having awesome adventures for years after you left us.

Apparently Greg has started his own D&D game with some people new to gaming and they’re having a good time and good for them. I don’t wish him any ill, but I do feel sorry for him if he’s been carrying around that resentment for 20+ years.

*<archive of Greg’s summary, with parts of his original post included — the blog is gone and the original post does not seem to be in the Wayback machine. 😦  https://web.archive.org/web/20110907032315/http://c3ccc.blogspot.com/p/history-lesson.html >

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dude, thanks for the link. I posted this below on that guy’s blog, see if he will post. Also putting it up here cuz werks both wayz, cuz he neber said ennynames?

    Any way, life is too short for that man, re-connect and make nice. Then delete this post man, bad blood ain’t good for the karma uknow?


    • My comment on his post was an attempt to make nice and clear the air. I had no hard feelings until I saw the crap in that one post. I really do wish him happiness and all that. He did not name names but we had a graduating class of less than 100; no need to name names. This will probably be the last time I think about any of this.

  2. That was a really great group. Everyone was smart and rules savvy. They really pushed my spontaneous, no planning adventure style to the limit. There were lots of tricks and traps, monsters too tough to fight, and yes a few TPK. We played so many different games.

    I remember it differently than G. I remember people, too excited to sit, standing around the gaming table shouting in climatic battles. I remember gaming for hours even occasionally days at time. I don’t remember 1 person wanting someone else to DM even when I wanted a break. I would say the Aurora group didn’t break up until everyone moved away and got married. I guess want I am trying to say is that I will remember those guys and times fondly. It too bad G missed out.

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