Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Presents of Christmas Past


As I've grown older Christmas has become a lot less about the gifts to me and more of a winter version of Thanksgiving.  I enjoy sitting by the fire sipping a drink and talking with family and friends much more than I enjoy unwrapping gifts and certainly more than I enjoy going to the mall.  This doesn't mean that I don't like gifts, just that they have become a lot less important to me.  However I do hold on to very fond memories of gifts that I received at a time when Christmas was really a lot more about presents to me.  So I give you a photo of part of my Christmas haul from I believe 1982, which could more appropriately have been called a very D&D Christmas.

It was a great year for D&D and a great Christmas.  Garay Gygax was still with TSR, and my parents got me some of the very best that the game had to offer.  I finally had my very own copy of the Dungeon Master's guide with its vast array of arcane knowledge that I could use to bedevil my players.  I got a Dungeon Master's Screen so that I could shield my maps and notes from the prying eyes of players who wanted to try to get an advantage over my adventures.  There was a booklet of Hexagonal Mapping Paper so that I could draw my own wilderness maps like the one that was in the Isle of Dread.  Dungeon Module I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City was under the tree and the evil frog men that dwelt within it did not disappoint.  Now these had all been on my Christmas list, but then there was a surprise.  My parents were always good at getting me things that I wanted but didn't know that I wanted yet, mostly because I didn't know that they existed.  Probably the best example of this of all time was the Dark Tower boardgame from Milton Bradley that I had received the Christmas before.  I'm sure that I'll be writing about that in the future, but that year the surprise was The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Now I had never even heard of this adventure, but as I unwrapped it, I knew that it would be awesome!  just look at that great cover painting by Erol Otus.  Who cares if I could even pronounce the name?  Tsojcanth.  It just sounded awesome.  I'm guessing that while my parents were Christmas shopping, most likely at Walden Books, as that was the best place in our area to get D&D stuff, they must have come across this and been as enthralled by the picture as I was.  It turned out to be one of my favorite adventures ever.  It had it all: a great wilderness trek through the mountains, a vast labyrinth of caves, a foxy vampire queen, and yes, even an underground river.  It was the best D&D related surprise ever and a great Christmas like all of the Christmases in those days.  So this holiday season, as we gather to game, or to talk about gaming, or just to hang out, let's remember those people who first encouraged and indulged our love of gaming.

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