There have been two major announcements made in the past couple of months that should have had a significant impact on me, but after hearing each of them, I am left with overwhelming sense of underwhelment...
The first being the reunion of the original lineup of Black Sabbath, which was announced on 11/11/2011. The second announcement came today, at 10:00 AM EST, and I am sure I don't have to tell you what that announcement was. For those scratching their heads, follow the link provided, or choose any gaming blog at random and read the news for yourself.
I make no bones about it, both Black Sabbath and D&D mean a lot to me. I discovered them both in 1980, virtually at the same time, so there has always been a strong connection between Sabbath's music and the game I have played for over 30 years now. The announcements that Sabbath will be recording a new album, and that D&D will have a fifth edition of the game published, should have me as giddy as a schoolgirl. The truth is, I feel more numb than anything about this news. And that makes me a little more than sad.
As I thought about all of this earlier today, a few things occurred to me. What is interesting is how much Black Sabbath, and Dungeons & Dragons have in common. Well, at least in my mind. Both are considered seminal entities in their fields; Sabbath being considered by many the first real metal band, and D&D considered the first roleplaying game. Both have come under heavy fire from the religious right. Black Sabbath has influenced countless bands over the years, spawning an entire genre of bands that emulate them to one degree or another, and the impact D&D has had on the gaming industry itself cannot be easily measured. Who knows where games and gaming would be without D&D? It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it!
Looking at how both D&D and Black Sabbath have been emulated over the years reveals another interesting area of correlation. The term "retro-clone" is thrown around for games like OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord and Sword & Wizardry, which have taken various earlier editions of D&D and emulated the rules so closely that it is hard to find the differences sometimes. The same could be said for many of the bands found in the doom metal community, and it would not be a far stretch to refer to many of these Sabbath worshiping bands as retro-clones of the original act. But I think it also needs to be pointed out that in many of these cases the bands have taken the groundwork that Sabbath established, and they have expanded and built upon the original concept. Sometimes with surprisingly original results. This is something I would like to see more of from the Old-School Renaissance and the do-it-yourself game design crowd. A subject best approach on another occasion I suspect...
Getting back to my original line of thought, I guess for me the whole thing comes down to expectations, and the fear of being let down. When people start talking about new editions, reunion tours, movie remakes, reboots, reimaginings, etc. I have trained myself not to get excited, and honestly, I make myself not care. I intentionally make myself not get emotionally invested. The reason is simple: I have had my heart broken too many times by this type of thing, and I am just tired of the perpetual disappointments. The last major attack on one of my sacred cows came in the form of the Conan the Barbarian remake... need I say more?
I guess the next question is whether I will be picking up the new Black Sabbath album, or D&D 5th edition? Time will tell, of course. I admit there is the off chance that I will be pleasantly surprised by one, or even both, but at this stage I prefer to remain skeptical and downright pessimistic about both these announcements.