My first… sort-of… game of Dungeons & Dragons was while walking home with a classmate after school. It was springtime 1981, I was in the 6th grade and I had just met Paul (if I recall his name correctly) for the first time. Meeting anyone on the way home from school was unheard of, as I was always very shy, and I rode my bike, never stopping unless I needed to. But on that day, as chance would have it… I didn’t ride my bike to school, so I walked home that day.
I had never seen Paul before, and it just so happened that he was in the 7th or 8th grade, and also on his way home from school. Destiny had brought us together and after we exchanged names and agreed to walk together as far as his house which was a few blocks away and en-route to my house which was a little over two miles away… he asked if I play D&D, to which I responded with the million dollar question.
What is… D & D?
Paul quickly explained and for the few blocks journey I was enjoying my first… sort-of… D&D dungeon crawl adventure as he talked me through it while we walked. It even had Darth Vader in it, which Paul told me he threw in only because that was a villain I was familiar with. I was very familiar with Darth Vader, as a few years earlier a buddy and I had scrounged up $1 each and played hooky from school and rode our bikes to see Star Wars when it came to our local theater.
Wow! After parting with Paul, I couldn’t stop thinking about D&D and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the game. I never saw Paul again… that day of school was the last day of 6th grade and my family had moved to another city soon after.
Well, another city later and my 13th birthday rolled around, I invited three of my new friends… they were all named Scott.
One of “the three Scotts” got me the
another got me the
Player Character Record Sheets;
and the other got me the
Non-Player Character Record Sheets.
They say there are 3 steps to be awesome… get cape… wear cape… fly.
But capes are for kids.
If you want to be truly awesome in 1982… invite “the three Scotts” to your 13th birthday party!
It was pure awesome!
My first dungeon… I wish I still had it but I had a difficult time just after high school as my parents screwed up my life just as surely as they could… the resulting mental illness caused me to “start over” by throwing out all my belongings including all my creative stuff such as my art, photos, music, etc… including D&D!
Well, my first dungeon was the typical 8.5” x 11” blue-lined graph rectangle full of thrown together monsters, treasure, traps (I was especially proud of my trapped room with spiked closing walls… inspired straight out of the garbage chute scene in Star Wars, which as I already mentioned, me and a friend didn’t go to school one day so we could ride our bikes… our speeder bikes as my buddy called them (he read the books, I had no idea what he was talking about), and treasures… all thrown together… no rhyme… no reason… I utilized every square of that piece of graph paper… just because it’s D&D! Laughable now but I still wish I had kept my things so I can share what my 13 year old novice D&D mind believed was genius at the time.
When I was 13, I loved playing D&D. I quickly filled a large blue binder with the campaign I was putting together and when my grades in school started falling below a ‘B’ average… my parents took my blue binder away and put it up on a high shelf. I could reach the shelf, but its height was symbolic. My parents were absurdly strict. So, I didn’t get to play any aspect of D&D until I had a ‘B’ average, which I accomplished quickly by having a friend forge a teacher’s signature on one of my weekly progress reports… yes, I had to get weekly progress reports from each of my teachers. The little respect I did lose for my parents’ unreasonable degree of strict, rebelliously manifested in this way.
I was, on the whole, very obedient and kind to them… while they became increasingly uncaring and wound up about each other that when they finally did get divorced after my younger brother graduated high school (which was their plan… “for the kids”… when I was 12 I recall they had decided to get divorced but they were going to wait until we had both graduated from high school first so as to spare us the difficulty of having to make the choices of who we wanted to live with)… suffice it to say that their divorce whirlwind was aimed at me. I won’t go into details, but my life took a severe turn for the worse and I am still picking up the pieces all these years later. But… and here is the important lesson in all of this… I am now in my 40’s and I still play D&D and other role playing games at least twice a week.
Our gaming group has played what they are calling 5th edition, this most recent Wizards of the Coast version of the Basic Set. They call it the Starter Set. We tried it when was first released and then we bought the three core books:
D&D Player’s Handbook
D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide
D&D Monster Manual
And of course, the D&D Dungeon Master’s Screen
The above WotC books are well layed-out and written and nostalgically capture the spirit of the early TSR D&D. In fact, they are beautiful, in the very least artistically speaking. I say this despite my prejudices against WotC, which exist and are many, and again… despite… the fact I play in two version 3.5 games per week.
We have since gone back to playing version 3.5. And for those of you who call it “edition”, well, this is all I got to say.
At what age did you first play Dungeons & Dragons… and do you still?
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