HeroPress gaming fun may be brought to you by the number "4" and the letter "e" in the near future.
I'm looking to share this belated-bandwagon-jumping goodness with The Tuesday Knights next year (once I am confident that I know the system and if it feels right).
As much as my roots and soul exist in the 'old school' of the original incarnation, and the various retro-clones that have been birthed in the last few years, I can't help but be drawn in by the shiny goodness of Wizards' latest releases.
I'm hoping that my experience with this 'new' game will be informed by my old school leanings (I'm planning to attend a launch event in Gravesend next month), but I also want to feel like I'm moving forward and learning new things (as I hack and slash my way through the dungeon).
It's as much a practical decision as anything else.
The Tuesday Knights stand me in good stead for a monthly game, but my efforts to make our meetings more frequent met with great resistance (something about people having 'lives'...) and, as I discovered when I ran Labyrinth Lord for them, a couple of hours every month isn't enough time to really get your teeth into a campaign. Especially when it's "old school" and the characters have a tendency to die if a random giant rat sneezes on them.
Now, I'm just spitballing here, but I have a theory that while the Grand Old Masters (Gary, Dave, Rob etc) may not have intended this to be the way their game was played, this conceit of starting characters effectively as established heroes is more on a level with how they actually played it "back in the day".
I mean, does anyone think that such legendary characters as Bigby, Tenser, Mordenkainen, Erac's Cousin and Robilar ever dared the ruins of Greyhawk with just 1d6 hit points to their name or a single spell in their spell book? (see update, below)
Ironically it was news of the launch of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons that prompted me to talk to Steve, Pete, Nick and Clare into transforming our regular monthly games of Formula De into a role-playing group.
As it happened I got cold feet about running an entirely new system - having not gamed properly for 10 or 20 years at that time - and so I heavily houseruled Castles & Crusades (which seemed like a happy medium at the time) and launched The Tuesday Knights into Tekralh.
The problem also with meeting just monthly is it leaves me open to the infamous Gamer ADD and I'm always thinking of the "next big game" - not necessarily just the next episode of the current campaign, but a whole new campaign (and usually a new system) that I'd be running later.
Perhaps this latest fascination with 4th Edition is simply another phase of my ADD, but it has a lot of facets that make it seem more likely to stick around for a while.
Some superficial - for instance, I grok all the card elements, the large maps, the miniatures and tokens (which I know a lot of old schoolers don't) and the books are gorgeous (conversely, I never liked the look of the Third Edition books or the artwork; a lot of it was too ugly for my tastes) - but a lot comes back to the practicality I mentioned above.
Unlike it seems in American cities, gamers are as rare as hens' teeth round this neck of South East England. Sadly, when they were more common - during my childhood - I didn't take advantage of this resource and make the networks of friends and contacts in the hobby that might have stood me in good stead.
The fact is I don't get to game anywhere near as often as I would like; and I have always loved the ethos of "Dungeons & Dragons" - explore underground caves, kill things, take their treasure - and I strongly believe that my best chance of encountering more gamers is to concentrate on the most popular game and genre.
The one phrase that has stuck with me throughout my gaming life is: "I'd rather be killing monsters".
I've had some amazing role-playing experiences that didn't involve bashing strange beasties or knocking the snot out of orcs, but if I had to choose one style of gaming to play exclusively it would be one that involved swinging swords, swashing buckles and slaying dragons.
So how does all this tie in with what I was saying a few weeks ago about "my plans"?
The simple answer is that I'd originally thought of creating a wacky, swords & planets, retro sci-fi game using my fantastic GAFDOZ miniatures.
But now, I've split my "wargaming" back off from the my "roleplaying" (at least for the moment) and will to continue to focus my metal mini buying on retro sci-fi (no rules system decided on yet) while my roleplaying veers towards Dungeons & Dragons (possibly 4th Ed).
As I said above, I've already been invited to this Essentials Red Box launch event in Gravesend (having had to pass on a Dark Sun event because it clashed with a planned holiday).
I'm hoping this introduction to actually playing 4th Edition (rather than just reading about it) will open a new chapter of my gaming biography. Even if it just makes me decide that 4th Edition isn't the way to go...
UPDATE (August 29, 10pm): Rob Kuntz just emailed me re: my incorrect assumption about the legendary characters in the Original Campaign. "Every character 1972 onward started as 1st level, Tim. Think about it in context even: we were play-testing a new game," he said.