January 16, 2012

My "introduction" to Dungeons & Dragons

I read a wonder post today regarding one blogger's introduction to role-playing games and felt motivated to post about my introduction.  This isn't my actual introduction to RPGs, but the most appropriate one.

I was initially introduced to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in late 1978 or possibly early 1979.  I had an Uncle who played and another Uncle who wanted to play.  I was 7 1/2 at the time and the one Uncle was maybe 11 and "too young" to play with his Brother-in-Law's group.  We both read the Player's Handbook and I tried to GM.  It was a joke, but we had fun.

Fast forward a couple of years to when I was in 6th grade going to school in Wollaston, Massachusetts.  Actually I was from Wollaston and the local school was closed down, so we had to be bused to a school in Quincy.  That school was pretty crowded and not a very good school.  One thing they did was institute a free "activity period" on Thursday afternoons.  Teacher and older students volunteered to run a wide assortment of activities that students could sign up for.  One activity was playing Dungeons & Dragons.

I was so stoked about finally getting to play. My very first PC was an Elf.  This was back when an Elf was both a race and a player character class.  The overwhelming majority of details about the game and my character are lost to me, but I do remember one thing: my PC was consumed by Green Slime.  Normally an attack of Green Slime is a quick death sentence and you need to roll up a new PC.  For some reason the GM allowed my PC to adventure for some time with the Green Slime slowly consuming my character.

To this day I prefer Elves and hate Green Slime.  You will not find Green Slime or the like in any adventure I write.  While I don't have problems with Save versus Death situations, I don't use monsters that instant-kill PCs.  Sure you might get turned to stone by a Medusa, but you are going to get ample warning that one is around before hand.  Using Green Slime to me is like having a Hippogriff die of a heart attack in the sky and having it land on a PC simply out of the blue.  It can suck the life out of the game just as fast as it smashes the life out of a PC.

Activity Period went away from school as suddenly as it appeared, but it was too late as I was hooked.  I went out and got my own D&D boxed set, the first of many, and devoured the rules.  I tried to get my brother to play, but it was just not meant to be.  The neighborhood kids could care less.  Any game that involved reading was right out of the question.  There was Kickball and there was the Atari 2600.  If you were lucky you knew someone who had Intellivision Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game....that was OK.


I thought the one game sucked, but the Treasure of the Minotaur was kind of cool.


The summer after 6th grade I moved back to Iowa to live with my Father.  I tried to get into gaming, but there wasn't much luck in rural Iowa.  We attended a Mennonite church and every Christmas holiday season the Church would announce a list of evil and violent games that every good parent would make sure NOT to get their child.  Of course Dungeons & Dragons was high up on that list so there was no way in hell I was getting what I really wanted for Christmas.

Instead, my folks got me Star Frontiers for Christmas.  It was a good game in its own right, but it was not Dungeons & Dragons.  The only really cool thing about Star Frontiers was that I was briefly allowed to play it in school.  I was in 8th grade at this point.  My friends and I had a study hall period 1st thing in the morning a couple times a week.  The teacher in charge of the study hall allowed us to play as long as we kept the volume down.  That only lasted a week or two until we had to stop because there were too many students wanting to play or watch us play.  Bummer.

I got the odd game in here and there in High School and we had a small campaign going my freshman year at Iowa State University.  Unfortunately having to work as many hours as I could as well as study really put a crimp in my free time.

Once I joined the Air Force and actually had free time I started playing again.  I found a group at Fort Lewis and another when I relocated to Schweinfurt Germany.  Another dry spell occurred when I got out of the military and moved to Boise.  That drought cleared right up with my discovery of HackMaster while in Las Vegas on my Honeymoon.  For the record we were at the comic book store where I bought it at my wife's request.

It was all downhill, or uphill depending on your point of view, from there.  I love playing RPGs, with HackMaster being my #1 choice, and I have lots of friends across the country because of the game.  While I may have had a rocky road when it comes to playing, it got me to where I am today and I appreciate what I have so much more because of it.

Next time you pick up a pair of dice, think about what you get out of it.  If you haven't played before...maybe you should start.  We could always use another player......

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