Friday, July 18, 2008

Frank Mentzer--coming to a Con near me

As a member of the Yahoo group, which caters to Boston-area roleplaying game enthusiasts, I receive a stream of regular messages in my inbox about area RPG games, news, and conventions. I ignore most of these messages because my gaming needs are already met, and because I view RPG conventions with a skeptical eye. The entirety of my convention experience consists of a single con--Total Confusion, which I attended way back in 1993 or thereabouts. I found the experience to be wildly uneven: The few RPG sessions I sat in on were crowded, disorganized, and largely un-fun, but I did have a blast playing a couple wargames. Overall though I had no urge to return to another con any time soon.

But a recent message from Bostongamers grabbed my eye and is causing me to consider lifting my 15-year self-imposed convention ban. Open Gaming Convention (OGC) in Nashua, NH--a short 30 or so minute ride from my doorstep--is hosting Frank Mentzer as its special guest. The convention runs from July 25-27.

That's right, D&D fans--the Frank Mentzer who authored the famous "BECMI" Dungeons and Dragons boxed sets, will be appearing at OGC. Published during 1983-86, Mentzer's legendary Basic, Expert, Companion, Masters, and Immortal sets took you from first level wimpdom all the way up to 36th level epic hero status and beyond, into the glorified air of god-hood. Although I never had a legitimate character attain Immortal or even Master's level status, I have a lot of very good memories of playing with those old box sets during my youth and teenage years (we played a D&D hybrid in those days, throwing together the AD&D and D&D rules in a mongrel but incredibly fun mix).

In fact, I still have those box sets on my shelf today, and turn to them from time to time for inspiration. Mentzer also wrote a number of other D&D modules, including a co-writing credit on the legendary The Temple of Elemental Evil (pictured here) with the master himself, Gary Gygax.

Part of me now wants to attend OGC just to shake the hand of the man who brought me so much joy all those years ago. Although Frank is still relatively young and as far as I know in the best of health, I can't help but think of Gygax's recent passing, which drove home the point that we should give thanks to the visionaries and creators of our favorite hobbies now, rather than look back with regret when the chance has passed. Besides, a Mentzer autograph would look quite nice on the inside flap of my own treasured copy of the The Temple...


ligedog said...

He has a long forum on Dragonsfoot - he's pretty accessible and seems like a cool guy.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi Liegedog, yes, I have seen (and read a quite a bit) of his forum. He does seem very approachable. I wonder if he'd be amenable to signing The Temple if I mail it to him with a self-addressed, stamped envelope?

Anonymous said...

Sure I'm accessible. ;>

Frank Mentzer