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Can You Go Home Again? +


I was chatting with a friend of mine yesterday and we were discussing favorite RPG experiences as GMs, and I realized most of my favorite GM moments were during the 2E era. I think that is partly because it was a long, formative era for me (mid 80s to late 2000s, through adolescence into young adulthood). I also think it is because 2E enabled the sorts of high fantasy we were aiming for, mostly by getting out of the way. (Note, I have many other great ROG memories, from many other games, right up to the present; I am just speaking in general here.)

When he asked if I would run 2E again, my kneejerk reaction was a resounding YES!, in a New York minute.

But, on reflection, I don't know that I would, because I am pretty sure it would not be the same experience. It isn't just that post TSR D&D systems have been generally better (for some subset of definitions of "better"). It is also that those memories are just that, memories. They are certainly colored by hindsight and nostalgia, and even if they are accurate I am not same as I was at that time. I would run 2E again to recapture those feelings and experiences and I don't think it is possible. I don't think you can go home again.

What do you think? Can you go home again? Can you return to old games and old campaigns and recapture what you felt 5 or 10 or 30 years ago? Do you, personally, feel like there is more to that desire than nostalgia?

One Note: This is a plus (+) thread for a simple reason -- I do not wan to talk about editions versus editions. 5E is some folks first D&D and they can be nostalgic for it. Some people played RIFTS as their first RPG, or they fell in love with Vampire The Masquerade. We won't be judging people's preferences in this thread, or questioning peoples' memories. If someone tells you they love(d) a thing, let them have that, please.

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I think I agree. Chasing nostalgia can be fun, but you never really recapture that feeling.

I have great memories playing 3.5e and I don't think I could recreate those memories by making my current group play 3.5e. Inversely, I think if I could go back in time and switch my old books for 5e ones, or perhaps another system entirely, I'd probably still have those fond memories.

I'm not nostalgic for the system, I'm nostalgic for the experience. I think being a teenager with loads of free time, playing with a group of people who were all as equally invested as I was is what made it special.

Someone online said once that everyone's favorite video game console is the one they had when they were 14/15/16. You can argue over objective and subjective differences. Why one is better than another. You may even have the ability to look at it introspectively and acknowledge that your favorite console isn't as good as current ones, or even competitors from the same time. It's likely your favorite because you had it at the perfect time. A cross roads of being old enough to grok games and have a fun and challenging experience playing them, but also being young enough that you have maximum free time, and minimum responsibilities allowing you to make the most of these experiences.

I think the same goes for RPGs.


Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
Personally I wouldn't try.

I'm generally against chasing nostalgia; to this day there's a ton of media from my youth I don't watch rewatch precisely because I have no desire to sully my childhood memories with my jaded adult eye.

I'm pretty sure going back to 2e (my teenage game) would reveal it to be just as fiddly and annoying as I imagine a 35 year old game would be.

That being said, if a group I trusted wanted to do a one-short or short game to revisit, I'd be OK with that. But I have no desire to "drive the bus" setting that sort of thing up, nor am I seeking it out.


I ran 1e AD&D for like 15 years, and from my experience, no you can't go home again. When I tried to run it, all the things that annoyed me about it then annoyed me 10 times more now. Unlike you though, I wouldn't silo all my best memories to back in the day. I'm still having great sessions and games today.

As far as returning home goes, I have similar feelings on returning to Jamaica. The home that I knew from my childhood doesn't exist anymore. That is not a bad thing - I am happy to observe less poverty for instance. But it isn't home anymore. So, no, you can't go home.

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