Monday, August 30, 2010

Wood smoke smells like Dungeons & Dragons to me.

I was building a fire last week to do some back yard cooking, and as I was poking up the coals, the smell of the smoke brought back to mind a certain experience of D&D.
They say that sense memories associated with smell are the most powerful and long lasting. So, I thought I'd ask you guys what sort of things have associations with gaming in your minds. What triggers memories, or gaming related thoughts for you?

The reason that wood smoke makes me think of gaming is that we played alot of D&D at summer camp in Boy Scouts. Yeah, I was a scout. It was some of the most enjoyable time in my life. There isn't anywhere that I'm more at ease than in the woods. Science Fiction conventions and Renn faires are close though. Heh...

I know scouting is quite unfashionable and un-PC now. Anytime I run into a discussion of it online, it takes an awful bashing. That all goes right over my head I'm afraid. My experience of scouting has no connection to what everyone wants to attack it for today. Like my view of old guard gaming vs the popular view of same I suppose.
Anyway, at camp we had those big canvas wall tents with the wood frames that open at each end. What we did was set up our tents in a five pointed star shape, with the inside corners touching, and then cover the open center with a big dining fly. We supported the center like a big top with a pole cut on site. This gave us a very big indoor space for gaming.

Now I never experienced any flack for playing D&D as a kid. Our scoutmaster didn't care a whit. We may not have been your average scout troop though. At least, what we did as scouts doesn't seem to have much in common with what the internet thinks scouts do.

We dragged a stereo and several car batteries with us so we could blast AC/DC and Black Sabbath in camp. We brought coolers loaded with Cokes, candy bars and chips to sell to the other troops at usurious rates. Black Elk speaks, Tom Brown's woodscraft books and the teachings of Don Juan were passed around at night and were just as esteemed as the DMG and the Scout field manual.

During the day we'd go tromping around in the woods and do scout stuff, and at night we'd game until we passed out. It was D&D camp as much as it was scout camp.
Hmmm, I bet I could get some takers for an adult D&D camp now. What would you guys think of two weeks with nothing but gaming and camp cooking without distractions?
That's a mostly rhetorical question. I can't swing the time myself. It's a nice idea though.

So, what apparently non-gaming related thing makes you think of gaming?


Derek said...

Camping always makes me think of it too. Lot's of scout camps involved play on the way to and from, if not while in camp as well.

The smells of swamp, bayou and kerosene do as well. For a couple years a group I played CoC with in Louisiana would pole pirogues back into the swamps (always a car passenger, I never really knew where we were once we got off the main roads) and play in camp by the light of old kerosene lanterns. Good times ....

Alexis Smolensk said...


In my High School, from 3 pm to 6 pm on Fridays - and as late as 10 pm if there was a game going on in the school's gym, which there almost always was, we would play D&D on the big tables of the school's cafeteria. There were usually three or four games of some kind going, a couple of war games and a couple of D&D ... so there'd be about twenty to thirty people casually sitting around.

We did a lot of testing of the words 'high impact' as they applied to dice by hurling the length of hundred foot hallways to see if we could score the edges.

Now when I see a big cafeteria, I'm taken back.

E.G.Palmer said...

Call of Cthulu in a swamp by lantern light, that's awesome!

I played in the school cafeteria during study hall. At least the one year I had a fellow player. We just had single player games and traded off DMing.

Jeffrey Runokivi said...

Sir, you have my attention. I was a scout as well and spent many happy night time hours playing D&D with my fellow scouts, at summer camp and during winter cabin outing for the most part. It was great fun...had the time of my life. We even played D&D at Brownsea and during Order of the Arrow gatherings.
As for scouting, I am with you there. I worked my way up to Eagle and had the time of my life doing so. I am glad, however, that I am not part of it now...things have gotten strange over BSA way. Its Sad.
Thanks for reminding me of those great times.

Mr. R

Al said...

"We dragged a stereo and several car batteries with us so we could blast AC/DC and Black Sabbath in camp." - Yep, that was us too!

It is sad what's happened to Boy Scouts - I signed my oldest son up a few years back, looking forward to watching him form some great memories of his own, and pulled him out only 3 months later. Its (in my area, at least) become little more than a retail point-of-sale with some vague arts and crafts trappings pinned on for show. I hope there are still some good scout clubs out there doing stuff the ol'fashioned way. :(