My RPG DNA: Part 1: the Early Years, AD&D 1e

I was tired tonight (I had a rough seminar today) and I felt like playing a game.  I then realized that writing brings me more joy and peace of mind than playing Torchlight, Half-Life 2: Episode 1 or Puzzle Pirate (yeah, I’m that casual and late in my games).

That’s why I decided to take a page out of Rob Donaghue’s blog and share my tabletop RPG DNA, Chatty style!

After having played for more than 25 years, I feel cycles come and go in my relationship with the role playing games I currently play.  I cycle through games, styles and formulas in some sort of mystic, some would say bipolar, sine-wave.  My players, being good sports, usually followed suit.

As I feel another such cycle ending in the near future, I started thinking back… 28 years ago.

Its starts with paper sheets, a pencil and a die…

I was 9, I was spending a lazy Saturday at my friend Mathieu’s place (no, not current Math). Mathieu was this highly artistic and imaginative soul that always created new stuff.  We were a great team, creating awesome stories on tape and playing cool adventure games in his backyard.  On that summer weekend, he had just told me about this game his cousin had shown him where you made a character, gave him weapons and explored caverns to kill monsters and get treasure.

Math: “I got killed a lot”

Phil: “Can we play?”

Math (always inventing stuff on the fly): “He had this blue box with weird blue dice, but we can invent our own rules!”

So we created a game where we put a name on a sheet of paper and added cool equipment like ‘swords’ and ‘crossbows”.  Math would take another sheet and draw the cavern as I explored it and invent weird people, situations and characters for me to interact with.

I eventually had to fight a paper-thin demon that took up the whole width and height of a corridor. So we decided that combat would go as such:

Roll a d6 and consult this mental table:

  1. Character dies
  2. Character is gravely wounded
  3. Character is slightly wounded
  4. Monster is slightly wounded
  5. Monster is gravely wounded
  6. Monster dies

I’m fuzzy as to how many ‘slightly’ it took to die, but I don’t recall it being an issue…

Needless to say, I became obsessed with that game within minutes.  I played it with Math time and time again.  We switched positions many time.  Math’s adventures were varied, occurring in caverns, trains and boats.  I was a more classical game master, with dungeons, traps and magic rings that regenerated lost limbs.

I started drawing dungeons, lots of them, and filling them with traps, monsters, traps, treasures, traps, some friendly NPCs… and traps.

I showed the game to my father and mother, they didn’t seem to be that impressed.  I DO recall my sports jock of a father trying REALLY hard to play along and my mother being vaguely disturbed with the implied violence of the game (and dealing with “concerned” mothers calling home over the next few years).  She did type my first dungeon as an assignment for her typing class and ‘got’ that the game was the tool that was making me bloom socially.

Thanks for being so cool mom!

It’s Advanced!

I eventually showed the game to my 13 year old neighbor Marc (who’s claim to fame was to be the only kid on the street to own an Intellivision!) and we played, and played and played.  A few weeks later, he came to my place with an English, hardcover book.  The one with the kickass wizard up there (I still find it awesome).

Marc: This guy at school invited me to play this game with them. It’s a bit like yours. He lent me this book. Look, its says ‘Advanced’ on it.

Phil: Let’s play it now!

In 1983-84, the 1e Players Handbook was not available in French and we only had one somewhat bilingual friend named Eric nearby.  We invited him to play with us and we tried to piece together what the game was about, through the heavy handed prose and sheer madness that was trying to decipher Gary’s writing while being so young and one language removed.

Not-so nostalgic aside: Say what you want of AD&D 1e, I think that many loved it so much because we had to unlock the game in our own way, adopting bits of rules, ignoring  most of it and making up the rest so we could get to the full fantasy RPG experience it offered.  It is the one thing I miss most about it. 1e was MY game because I had no choice to hack it otherwise I’d never would have been able to play it.

We ended up playing proto-AD&D with classes, equipment and the spells (The Illusionist was the BEST, I mean Phanschmargosomething Killer? I wanna play that!).  Yet, we still played combat with the 1d6 .  You hit on a 4-6 (dealing damage + Str Bonus) and the monsters hit you when you rolled a 1-3 on your attack dice, dealing damage by DM fiat.

Marc bought the Player’s Handbook and the Monster Manual II (showing us that monsters had stats, XPs and treasure).  Eric bough a module (Against the Cult of the Reptile God) and we played until I got killed by assassins hiding in the village’s Inn.

We bought our polyhedral dice piecemeal, you know, those transluscent, uninked dice with the sprue marks on them? As we played, our combat rules slowly became more complex as we pieced the rules together.  We switched the DM’s role around.  Eric and Marc (better English readers) ran published adventures like the Saltmarsh series and Against the Giants. We never finished them because I usually got everyone killed within one or 2 sessions of the adventure.

I was already an investigator player back then, fancy that.

Chatty Phil becomes a DM

When it was my turn to DM, it was usually some horrible homebrewed pre-teen dungeon that often got my older geek friends into hissy fits

Marc: Phil, the Dungeon Master can’t be a NPC that gives quest, that’s only in that cartoon you watch!

Eric: A Poo elemental eh? So mature!

When I was 11, I broke my piggy bank (I was a paperboy) and bought a few things that changed my life:

  • The 1e Dungeon Master Guide (I was the first to get it in our group, we’d been playing for 2 years)
  • The Village of Hommlet module
  • The World of Greyhawk boxed set

On my bus ride home, I dove in the DMG and had the first of many epiphanies…

Phil: Ohhhh! So you need to roll high on a d20 to hit according to this table here?  Hey! Are those naked chicks?

The last bit we needed to make the game fully playable fell into place.

It took me about 4 years to develop the English reading skills to eventually go through the whole book. I never regretted it… except the grappling and pummeling rules.

Over the next few years, I ran Village of Hommlet at least 8 times. We played campaigns made out of threadbare stories, the Greyhawk hexmap and random encounters and loved it.  We also played the 2nd Dragonlance module, where I had Tasslehoff Burrfoot (the Kender Thief) as a character and got nearly killed by Raistlin 3 times for stealing his Staff of the Magus.

I finally crashed the whole game when I went out to talk to Lord Verminard in one of those scenes where sane players are supposed to listen to uberstrong  NPCs make a speech, not interrupt it.

Yeah, we all got killed. I think I’m starting to see a 25 year-long trend here…

Moving on.

I went through a few gaming groups from the early to mid 80′s. Right up to Junior High where I met the Math that still plays with us, forming the core of my current group.  We played AD&D right up to the point that the 2nd edition came out.

But that’s a story for another time.

How about you? What were your early years?  Are you still in them?  Tell us your stories!

Comments

  1. I think I was maybe 8 when I started playing RPGs with my friend. The ones we started with were B/X D&D (in Finnish) and ANKH (Adventurers of the North-Kalevala Heroes, a Finnish d&d clone based on iron age folklore). I don’t know which one came first. There weren’t many translated modules so we made our own adventures and even games. I clearly remember our lego game and one scifi game which we used with some Amiga computer game (I think we flied the space parts within the cgame). I also made a Jurassic Park rpg with my cousins.

    Ages 8-12 we played ANKH, B/X D&D, LOTR (it was like MERP for kids), MERP, Rolemaster, Twilight 2000, Cyberpunk 2020, Stormbringer,Elhendi (a Finnish elf rpg) and I also tried Harnmaster and Runequest but found them too hard or bizarre (ducks?!).

    We all read French but knew English well enough (I learned it by playing King’s Quest with a dictionary) so in early teens we tried games in English and finally settled to Rolemaster SS and the Shadowworld setting.

    When 3e came out, I bought it and it brought me back to D&D and it has been The Game since. Nowadays we usually play heavily houseruled d20 games (d&d in FR & Eberron and Conan d20) and Savage Worlds. I also play 1-on-1 games of B/X with my 8 yo daughter.

    p.s. ANKH rules!

  2. Thanks for the post and invite to share.

    I was 8 years old when we (my twin brother and I) started playing with a close friend. I think in that one weekend we played much more than we slept or did anything else. My first character was an elf (so exotic!); grey oozes ate him in the Caves of Chaos. And we were hooked.

    I got the Moldvay red box for the next Christmas, and my brother got the blue box. I became a DM from that point on. I wrote most of my own adventures, learning to steal from movies and comics. Any magic item I saw in a movie was translated into D&D. (Remember that movie The Sword and the Sorcerer? I made up Talon’s three-bladed sword. It shot its blades! How cool was that?)

    My brother and I saved money to buy the advanced books. All the kids on the street were D&D converts, with me as the DM or, occasionally, our friend Mark.

    My parents became more and more religious. They bought into the hype around the D&D game, and my stepmother threw our books out a couple years later.

    We kept playing RPGs, though. (D&D was the only evil one.) And we played Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Marvel Super Heroes, Car Wars, Palladium RPG, Heroes Unlimited, MERP, Rolemaster, Call of Cthulhu, Twilight 2000, GURPS, Shadowrun, and a host of other games. Heroes Unlimited, GURPS, and Shadowrun became staples. I basically missed all of 2e D&D. Then 3e brought me back into the fold.

    The rest is history. I have the honor of having worked on 3e in its later years and 4e from its early days. Good times.

    It was and is a great pastime. I believe it kept more than one friend out of trouble and veered one back on course. Today, few things occupy my mind and time like RPGs. They have brought me great friendships, great times, and useful skills. RPGs continue to give back to me as I explore blogging about them and talking about them on Twitter and elsewhere. I expect to continue to receive such a bounty–especially at GenCon.

    I’m grateful RPGs exist.
    .-= Chris Sims´s last blog ..Mailbag 3 – The Pitch =-.

  3. I would have been about 8 or 10 when i started playing RPG’s however i had no idea what i was doing. I called them Brain Quests and it involved me nagging my family or friends into sitting down and listening to me ramble on and on about scenarios to which they made simple choices and i would interprete and imprivse the story as i went based on their choices (in hindsight it was more of a choose your own adventure with an 8 year old narrator). From there i discovered video games and started hanging out with a group of kids older than myself. We would play games like Street Fighter 2 and Mario Brothers all weekend and then talk about it through school.

    Throughout my teen years i continued creating stories and characters that i would have loved to have seen in games and movies, but most of the time they just got written down and thrown in a box where i kept all my creations, later on i transferred everything onto pc when i got one.

    My real RPG epiphany was about 5 years ago. I had spent the morning playing video games with my girlfriend and we got into a discussion how everything in videogames is generally the same no matter what you were playing, and how there is no real freedom within them (This is a massive generalisation i know). That comment lead to a light bulb going off in my head and i vaguely recalled seeing and hearing about this board game called dungeons and dragons! (i know D&D a board game, i was naive). I searched local game stores and reatilers for the game for several weeks to no avail, often greeted by blank stares and weird looks (I live in the Whitsundays, Australia for your information, not the easiest country or town to acquire RPG content). With one last effort i searched for D&D on ebay and got smacked in the face with an explosion of RPG content. I nearly maxed out my credit card in an insane spending spree and well to cut this overly long rambling history lesson as short as possible, I started with two players, my girlfriend and a family friend who had played in the late 70′s. 5 years on i’m running two games a week for over 10 players and this quiet little sporting/tourist town is slowly getting infected with the RPG madness :)

    Thanks for the great article and somewhat insane invitation to let me go on and on about my origins.

    Scott

  4. @Pekka: I read Middle Earth Roleplaying Game in my 3rd year of High School and we tried to play it, but I quit in disgust halfway through character generation because I kept getting lost. I did use the published adventures later in my Gurps Fantasy campaigns.

    Oh you play with your 8 year old too? So cool. I agree that B/X is great for that! Thanks for Sharing.

    @Chris: Dude, we have been RPG brothers during the 90s it seems. I loved GURPS… until the David Pulver era made me realize that I wanted a game, not an advanced reality design engine :)

    It’s so funny that whole thing about American religious parents and the whole D&D IS EVIL BUT ALL OTHER GAMES ARE FINE, I know it baffles our European friends. I recall my Junior High girlfriend writing to (and getting published in) a pre-teen magazine to share her concerns that I was playing D&D so often and so passionately.

    I share your gratefullness towards the hobby. Without it, we would not have had that awkward first meeting at Gen Con 2 years ago (Hey I’m a fan of yours! No no, I’m a fan of Yours!) that ultimately ended up making us friends and having you here with us and on the Web 2.0 sphere.

    That’s so cool.

    @Scott: Ahh so you’re from Down Under? That explains so many things! I’m kidding. I can tell that it would have been difficult to find RPG material where you came from but I smiled a lot with how you re-created the interactive storytelling game so young.

    Awesome story, and never apologize for the length of a comment here. I’m Chatty, but I love reading other people’s stories!

  5. @Chatty, Thank you, i’ll make sure to let myself ramble next time until my hearts content. Yes, i’m an “aussie”, but atleast i’m not canadian… Oh wait, haha. Anyway enough of the name calling, looking forward to part 2.

  6. Say what you want of AD&D 1e, I think that many loved it so much because we had to unlock the game in our own way, adopting bits of rules, ignoring most of it and making up the rest so we could get to the full fantasy RPG experience it offered.

    That’s precisely how I feel about 2e, for what it’s worth. I had a lot of fun with those rulebooks, but would be hard-pressed to claim that we were ever really playing by the rules.

    Hey! Are those naked chicks?

    The last bit we needed to make the game fully playable fell into place.

    How did you guys ever play before naked chicks? ;)

  7. I was a late bloomer and started playing when I was 14, but I did start back in 1981 with the red box (which still rests on my shelf with characters in them). We would play everywhere we could, but I remember one Senior-Skip day we all went to the local state park and played all day. The people who got me into it were diverse and played all sorts of games including the math heavy V&V. I quickly became a DM and would spend hours after school writing adventures and worlds, even if they were never run.

    Some memories include:
    Running an adventure wherein the players had to pick up the bazooka so they could shoot it at the rust monster trapped at the bottom of the pit.
    Knowing where all the stores were that carried gaming supplies so I could run into them while my mother was next door at another store. I never really had to explain the game to her.
    Making copies of gaming books on my mothers copier. One of us would by a book and then we would make copies of them for the rest. I really didnt understand the concept of trademark and such back then. The smell of something newly printed can still take me back to those days.

    Due to religious pressures I got rid of virtually all my RPG books at one point but have since gotten them all back and then some. I now have 6 shelving units of rpgs with more in storage.

    I tended to stick to those I met in high-school and after high-school we started playing in college, where we began an 11-year real-time campaign. In that time I also ran a variety of games that included Shadowrun, WoD, MERP, Rolemaster, TORG and others.

    15 years ago I got lucky and married a gamer so I was able to have a “normal” life while still gaming. She at least understands my obsession. She plays in my games and I play in hers. Right now I am running 4E and she is running a couple of 3rd edition Gamma World games. I’m working on starting a Rogue Trader game soon.
    .-= callin´s last blog ..Racial Ancestry =-.

  8. The first game I ever played in was Traveller back in 1977, and it was a learn-by-playing experience for us all. I remember the four of us rolling characters (including the GM – we were just turning the pages and doing what it said) then taking part (ok, starting) a firefight in a starport, just because we refused to pay the customs duty on our cargo.

    We died messily, and very quickly. Traveller combat is lethal. Our experiences with that game completely shaped our tactics when we moved to Red Box D&D. When the Goblins charged, we ran. When the skeletons came, we ran. When the rabbits came, we made rabbit stew. Carefully. It took a few sessions before we realized that D&D characters (yes, even with their single-digit Hit Points) aren’t quite such injury magnets as their Traveller equals.

    But the Traveller experience stuck with us; combat was something to respect. Be prepared, be well armed and never, ever piss of a customs official when he can call in a grav jeep with a mounted Heavy SMG as support.
    .-= greywulf´s last blog ..Damn you DLL =-.

  9. @Chatty: What’s really interesting is a lot of other games had in them more authentic occultism than D&D did.
    .-= Chris Sims´s last blog ..Mailbag 3 – The Pitch =-.

  10. Reading the post and the comments brought back a flood of memories. Wow.

    I got to watch my older brothers play DnD with their friends in 1979, out of the box with the full plate fighter (maybe a paladin?) with a bow and a wizard with a wand taking on a red dragon sitting on (of course!) a giant heap of loot. Thinking back, and considering the limitations on characters in that box, those two doofs probably died quick, horrible deaths.

    Anyway, I convinced my oldest brother, who always DMd, to let me play, and I made a dwarf fighter, neutral evil — that was because my other brother made a NE elf, so I figured that’s what I ought to do, too. We met at a tavern, trusted one another immediately, and set off down a road looking for….I had no idea. We soon found a hole in the ground, and I climbed down into it (using my 50′ rope)(from the large sack within my leather backpack)…I have no idea why. I think that’s just what you do when you find yourself strolling down a forested road with an almost complete stranger, you’re both armed to the teeth, supposedly evil, and you find a big hole.

    My dwarf found, within the hole, an ankheg, and smashed it to pieces with his mace…while the elf ran off with his backpack and the rope. That was the end of my first DnD adventure. I also remember using 3×5 file cards to create backstories for and draw (really lousy) pictures of monsters I’d one day use in my own games. That, and the several pages of magic items I drew, as if I had some paper armory from which to equip my characters…you know, cool stuff like a pair of bracers that each held a pocket dimension inhabited by 10 (each) friendly silver dragons that would appear and kick ass at my 10 year-old command. Yeah, that was pretty cool. I wouldn’t want to try and create those with 3.5e magic item rules. No way.

    I am having flashbacks of so many ridiculous kid gaming experiences — any of you getting the same thing? Like having Def Leppard and their tour bus transported across the dimensions in order to appear along a forested road in a DnD adventure so the PCs could save their hair metal bacon? I didn’t make that up — I ran it. In 1983. Oh boy.

  11. @Scott: Yeah, yeah. Laugh at us all you want Scott. Canada the farthest 2 countries can be on our mudball so we can call ourselves names all we want you Vegemite-loving World of Dorkness loving roleplayer :)

    It’s not like your going to come and punch me in the face. Although I hear you could call your prime minister and lodge a formal complaint. Apparently, he’s beer buddy with all of you… combined.

    Seriously, I’m jealous! I’d love to live in a country where the spiders that invade your home can kill your kids!

    @Dave: I agree. I’m pretty sure that if I had been 10 years younger, I would have said the same thing about 2e. However, since I was 16-17 when 2e came out and I was bilingual by that time, I was in a phase of my gaming life where applying the rules was really important. At that time, both the 1e and 2e rulesets failed to address my needs so I drifted to others. But 1e will keep a special place in my hearth like 2e will in yours.

    Also, great editor joke on the nakid chicks thing.

    @callin: Did you stop because of self/boyfriend imposed religious belief? I’m morbidly curious about America’s relationship between its religious belief and focus on just the one RPG. As Chris mentions, other RPGs had less press but much deeper occult content, which seems to indicate more of an ‘easy target’ issue than genuine religious concerns for the activity.

    I’m happy that you found a spouse that shares your geeky passion! This is geek gold if you ask me!

    @Greywulf: I was wondering why so much of your writing was affected by the philosophy of playing it safe. As you can see, I didn’t mind dying much, so I did it a lot! But I recall that Traveler’s Char Gen is so heavy that you don’t want to lose a character on the first encounter. I really have to try it someday.

    @Chris: Yes but none of them got a fraction of the press time that D&D got from the right wing media/lobbies. Hell, Mazes and Monsters was such a transparent dig at the ‘dangers of D&D’ that they even used another freaking alliteration… I wonder if there was an agenda there? :)

    @Jeremy:

    (blockquote) Like having Def Leppard and their tour bus transported across the dimensions in order to appear along a forested road in a DnD adventure so the PCs could save their hair metal bacon? (/blockquote)

    You sir win the Internet today. :)

  12. Hmm.
    Welcome to editing.
    Tunnels and Trolls and Melee. 1975, with my friend Peter and his Oldest Brother, Steve. Peter and I were 9; Steve was in High School.
    The next year D&D was added in (with these yellow, 2 sided character sheets that came in a pad), where Peter ran most of the games for us. I went to Private school after that, and brought T&T with me, though during that summer Steve introduced Traveller to us. I liked the character generation of Traveller even then; though I hated the lethality at the time. I had just turned 11…(and I should mention Bunnies and Burrows based on Watership down, as well…

    But in Private school, I became the GM. This started with te BAsic set, but AD&D came out at this point, and I had no idea they were different philosophies…I just thought one was the more advanced (thus coller) version. This was 78, I believe. Steve, Peter’s Older brother, I think was looking down his nose at us as he was playing C&S, but when I was away at school, in between classes, at break, at lunch, at each other’s house…dice were everywhere.I had had some older gamer exposure, so I was broken of any Monty Haul tendencies early after the first sessions I ran. I still remember being told that no one will take me seriously as a GM if it is too easy. Which provided the obvious results, until I found a middle realm.

    In eighth grade, I lived at a friends house during the school year to stay at Private school. All we did was game. By 9th grade, I had added in seperate avoid and protect rules for my AD&D, and in 10th, I was tinkering with the continous initiative system that I would stay with. In 11th, I would have the first of my gamaing girlfriends, and by the end of 11th (end of 83), I revamped many rules, and created my Celtricia campaign.

    Which is still ongoing.

    Thanks, phil, for the chance to reflect.
    .-= LordVreeg´s last blog ..added Korang the Artificer =-.

  13. When I was around 9 or 10 years old, I talked to my one male cousin about this game that he played called D&D with pewter miniatures on a tabletop, but that’s about as far as that went. Once I got to late middle school, I met The O, Dave, and The Main Event (among many others) who introduced me to 2nd Edition in the Revised books period, which the PHB and MM are both still sitting on my shelf a few feet away from me right now. Dave was the DM and as he’s talked about several times the games back then included pretty much every popular movie (sci-fi and fantasy) element that they could, along with countless real world references like Bob Dole as a Tanarii (I had no idea what they were or really who Bob Dole was at that point, I just knew it was hilarious). I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom with The O and making my first character, an elven wizard and quickly latching onto the importance of the d4 and its use in magic missile. After a decent number of adventures he fell unconscious during a courtroom broke out into a fight, and The Main Event made the decision to leave him in haste as the rest of the party fled through a portal. I believe at that point he was stepped on by Gigantor. I’m not kidding. Dave really knew how to DM back in those days… :D

    From there I played a lot of 2E D&D, GURPS, d6 Star Wars, World of Darkness, and 3E D&D all mixed together through all of high school.

    I didn’t start DMing more than one-shots or short lived campaigns until college, when the need arose as players presented themselves with no one to run a game.

  14. I started on D&D basic, back in… 1982? But I didn’t get much chance to play it, and then I bought Dragonlance (the books) and they had such an air of possibility about them…

    Then I moved to Australia, and it took two years to find other gamers, so I didn’t get to do it in earnest till I was 14 or 15, playing at my friend’s house late into the night, mostly just the two of us.

    Then I moved to a lead-smelting town, and in year 11 I assembled a group, we got started on AD&D 1st ed and I have never looked back, though I changed games a lot. One session we played for 17 hours straight through a 46 degree day, and when I cycled home at 1am it must have still been 40 degrees, you could feel the clumps of warmer air where the night was still cooling down, but I was off on a distant snowy mountain in a castle surrounded by dead orcs and treasure, didn’t even notice the heat…
    .-= faustusnotes´s last blog ..A balanced, entirely skill based d20 system? =-.

  15. My very first gaming experience – sitting on the bedroom floor with a GM and player #2. This is the only thing I remember from that day:

    DM: “You come to a door. Do you go in?”

    Us: “Sure.”

    DM: “Ok, you take this much damage because you fall into a pool of acid…”

    Actually, I think the DM may have been on acid…

    -Tourq
    .-= Tourq´s last blog ..The Red Knight – Steal this Background =-.

  16. Chatty: I remember explaining the character gen of MERP and Rolemaster to my GM when we were around 11. If you had the fortitude to fight through the character building, it was a great game.

    And yeah, I try to turn my daughter into a gamer. I mentioned that DM’d an adventure in the comments of some earlier post (lasers and witches). I think I’ll write more about it when I start my Finnish folklore in d&d and fantasy blog if I get my life in order.

  17. Starwind1985 says:

    I’m a newbie compared to most of y’all. My first exposure to roleplaying was about 8 years ago when my best friend talked me into playing in a session of the online game she played in over IRC chat. After 30 minutes of just roleplaying i was bored and signed off. A couple years later, I’m back home visiting the same friend and it happens to be d&d night. Unfortunately her dm wasn’t comfortable with adding someone with no experience who would only be there for one session so i had to watch. Finally about 4 years ago a friend talked me into playing a solo session with him of 3.5 d&d. I rolled up a half-elf rogue and we got started. Never had I imagined that I could have much fun with a sheet of paper and a handful of strange dice. The next day we found out that my girlfriend used to play 2nd edition and would love to play with us. Soon we had a full party and were playing every other day. Now i own about a dozen books and we play once a week with a group between 5 and 10 people depending on who all can make it.

  18. 10 years ago, in Study Hall in High School, my friend came in and said, “We are going to play D&D.” He pulled out his 2ed books, sat us down, and we made characters. I played a Bard with a Strength score of 4, so he used his bow all of the time. Some of my greatest memories belong to that game. Inadvertently burning down an entire forest by setting a Treant on fire, who thus ran screaming through the forest as it burned. Critically fumbling an attack roll and having my bow explode in my hands, knocking me of the castle wall I was standing on, the DM was brutal. And out thieving the Thief, it was priceless to see his face after I swiped the bag of gold right out of his hand as he held it out in front of him and not even knowing who did it.

    When 3rd edition came out we switched over and went through lots of campaigns. As our normal DM’s left for the military, I picked up the slack and started DMing. I’ve mostly ran premade adventures, but I’ve been told after each campaign that I have improved.

    The best game I’ve run was when I ran the Eberron adventure, Eyes of the Lich Queen. My players had tons of fun, even though I was able to claim a couple of their lives throughout the game. Triple 20 rolls on the unkillable Fighter and the most memorable death in any game I’ve played in, getting the Cleric to heal himself to death. Poison that reverses positive and negative energy effects is really nasty.

    From there we have gone back and forth from 4ed and 3.5. I ran 4ed for awhile and had to stop DMing with college projects taking more of my attention. Currently playing a 3.5 game and starting to plan for a homebrew 4ed game for when we finish our current game.

  19. @Chatty… as for American religious beliefs vs DND, you really have to look at Pat Robertson and his 700 Club on CBN (now ABC Family). Robertson attempted to run for President back in the 80s and was always heavily turning his religious beliefs into a political agenda. Back in the 80s, there was a case in which a guy got way too deep into playing D&D to the point where he was acting out as his character in real life… and eventually killed some people. The guy was nuts, obviously… but that just gave Robertson ammunition against TSR/D&D for corrupting the morality of the American people. I wish I remembered more details of the case… I did a paper on it for a college freshman level English paper. But that was about 20 years ago. lol

    As for me, I started with the basic box set rules back in 1982. Played for about a year or two then and purchased the three AD&D core rulebooks. From there, I mostly just read the books whenever the mood hit me, but rarely had the opportunity to play. Then, in 1990, I made some new acquaintances who were heavily into the game. I was a pool hustler at that time, but the more I talked to them about AD&D, the more I wanted to play. So, over the next year or so, I gradually started hustling pool less often and playing ‘D’ more often. Most of the time, the games were extremely munchkinized, but it was a lot of fun. Sometimes, we would need a break from ‘D’ and play other games like Shadowrun, Rifts, the FASA Star Trek RPG, and others. We had a lot of fun with those games as well, even though the dice pool system of Shadowrun was unpopular with our group. We always came back to ‘D’, though, at least until some in the group decided that they only wanted to play Vampire instead. Go figure… the dice pool system of Shadowrun was a headache, but they fell in love with the Worlds of Darkness version of it. Yuck! :)

  20. @Chatty, Ha, fear my 2 day old comback! I think i have failed to mention that my current plans have me visiting GenCon in the US next year so a punch in the face might be on the cards :), You bacon loving, “ay-Hoser” saying, French-English crossbreeds, you all smell of Elderberries!

    Their isn’t that much that can kill you down here. Only the Spiders, Snakes, Sharks, Crocodiles, Jellyfish, Octopus, Dingoes and Dropbears!… Actually is their any good real estate going cheap over there at the moment?

    Scott
    .-= Scott´s last blog ..The Planar Orphan =-.

  21. bigbobbiek says:

    I started playing late, back in 2003 in college with D&D 3.5. In that first game, the Fighter looked cool to me (all those feats!), and I wanted to play him very badly (you know, that class that 7 years later I have yet to play even once). However, my friends told me they needed a Rogue, so that’s what I was going to play. Okay, I can do that. Then I was told that as a first level character I had just finished my training, and had not encountered any monsters yet. Okay I can do that too.

    So later that session, my friends had mixed reactions. Some thought it funny, others got mad. I myself still enjoy the memory of seeing a group of skeletons jump out at us, screaming “OH GOD MOMMY NO!”, and running away from these terrible things that should be dead but weren’t. I spent the combat making skill checks to hide in a bush and occasionally gathered the courage to shoot at the horrible nasties with my crossbow.

    Over the years I have had as much fun if not more with other characters, some brave warriors, some wise mages, and some just plain wise-cracking NPC’s designed to anger my players. But that first encounter has always been dear to me.

  22. My first session of gaming involved Lemon Drops (mmm them are tasty), three other girls, and a version of the evening I fondly remember (what really happened might be different). I do know, positively, for sure, I think, that I named my first character Lemon Drop, maybe.

    I like to think that I’ve graduated since then, but I’ll always miss that +10 Vorpal Sword.
    .-= Charisma´s last blog ..Rescuing Racel – Steal this Adventure =-.

  23. Is it Chatty’s kids that bring him back to this?

    My first adventure started with “You’re walking down a coridor, when all of a sudden….” I had a wizard with 1 HP, a 10 foot pole, and there was an angry orc. I tried to jump over the orc using the pole. The clever orc turned around. I think I woke up by the Orc’s camp fire just before being roasted.

    Perhaps discovering D&D our own way was the real adventure for all of us old players.

    I’m playing 4e with my son who’s 8. Its been really fun, and he totally gets it. Last week he fired 4 arrows into a wall, climbed up, and began to rain death on the enemy. Legolas couldn’t have done it better.

    Suddenly he askes if he can run an adventure. 4e is too hard I think. So.. I’m ebaying in a pile of basic D&D for him to use. 4e reminded me of Basic for its simplicity and ease.

    As much as I like 1e AD&D I don’t think I’ll ever go back. The reason I left was that it was so dogmatic in its ways. I always wanted more or different. I can get the same feel with Basic and infinitely less rules to read.

  24. Scott you can’t forget about us dragons. We live in Australia too you know. All those wildfires you have, guess who starts them. That’s right, dragons.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] web content guy Bart Carroll. It was especially cool for me because it allowed me to explore my gaming DNA a bit in a way I wasn’t expecting. In fact, I’ve tried to write  posts about it  in [...]

  2. [...] exercise of reminiscing about  gaming history, I too started sharing my story, starting with my initial infatuation with AD&D covering the mid-80’s period where I was between the age of 10 and [...]

  3. [...] nostalgic.  And since I was inspired by Chatty DM’s “Gaming DNA” posts (part one and two), I want to share a history of my dominant gaming [...]

  4. [...] by Rob Donaghue’s gaming DNA post, I decided to share my gaming history first with the early 80’s (with the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) and then with the bipolar crunchy/fluffy [...]

  5. [...]  Several others responded to the meme (links at the bottom of Rob’s post), including the “Chatty DM” Philippe-Antoine Menard.  His second contribution to the meme was published yesterday, while I was mentally chewing on [...]