Mentzer Reflections -- Prologue

According to Cyclopeatron, I am a 3rd Generation D&Der.  I grew up with the Mentzer sets, with my mom giving me the red box for Christmas in probably 1986 or 1987.  I was in 6th grade and has just discovered Tolkien.  The same Christmas break that I unwrapped the Red Box, I was reading The Two Towers, literally begging my mother to buy me Return of the King after the cliffhanger ending of "Frodo was alive, but taken by the enemy."  I brought the Red Box back with me after the Christmas break and introduced my friends to the game, beginning with Sean and Michael.  The rest is my gaming history.

I've recently uncovered two of my Mentzer sets.  While randomly looking through my gaming material, I stumbled across the black Master's books.  Those are special, because I don't think they were actually mine.  They belonged to Sean, but I ended up with them.  That story will get told at some point, I am sure.  That discovery prompted a post about the catoblepas and some serious nostalgic longing for the red Basic books.  I thought those were actually gone for good.  I did not remember seeing them the last time I boxed up gaming material for the attic, nor could I pinpoint the last time I'd actually read them.  Turn to last Friday, when, in a serious moody funk, I (again) was randomly picking through another shelf of gaming books, looking for who knows what.  I found my two red Mentzer basic books.  It's hard to describe the feeling I got when I pulled those off the shelf (right next to Labyrinth Lord, fittingly).  Nostalgia, for sure, but also a recognition that This Is Where It All Began (for me, anyway).

I don't, for a second, think the OSR is merely about nostalgia.  But I do think nostalgia plays a role, in the same way that adults who play baseball love baseball partially because they played it as a kid.

Flipping thought the red Basic book I was just as surprised by how much I'd forgotten, or overlooked, as by what I remembered.  In that spirit, I am going to spend some time (and, likely, lots of posts), taking a close look at these books that, without exaggeration, changed my life.  I am not sure what these posts will look like yet, or how systematic I'll be in my examination, or even how far I'll get (I'll have to find the Expert and Companion books somewhere), but I think it will be fun and educational.  I invite everyone to follow along and join me in the conversation.


  1. I'm game. I think this will be interesting.

  2. Following this with interest.

  3. I don;t have anything deep to add other than to say, "Fuck Bargle." Guy killed my woman!

  4. I have a homemade "Kill Bargle" t-shirt hanging in my closet. Needless to say, looking forward to this.

    (Also, last year I wrote a couple posts about my love of "the other Red Box.")

  5. I still run most of my games in Mystara, and Bargle is always featured. Just 3 weeks ago, the Professor's old group fought Bargle, only to have him escape after laying some serious smack down. Nakia, I still have my Basic and Expert sets, if you want to look through the Blue book(s).

  6. @ Christian -- Word. That dude sucks.

    @ sirlarkins -- great posts. Thanks for pointing me to them. I'm definetly going to reference them in my future posts. And I want one of those shirts.

    @ Dustin -- Mystara was always a great thing about your game. I'm sorry I missed the Bargle fight!


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