Monday, February 10, 2014

[D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop] Day Ten

First gaming magazine you ever bought.

Oh man, talk about sweet nostalgia.

Almost more than my old Basic and Expert sets, my first issue of Dragon magazine conjures up memories of the excitement of getting into the tabletop gaming hobby. I don't remember exactly when I bought it (most likely as a back issue at my local Hastings), but it would've been right around the time I bought my Basic set. Out of the dozen or so back issues I had to choose from, I went with this one probably for no better reason than the Jeff Easley cover, which spoke deeply to my abiding love for skeletal undead.

The contents of the magazine, however, proved even more exciting. Looking back at my PDF copy (the original having long since fallen apart from frequent use), there's nothing in there that's particularly outstanding in terms of the articles. In fact, years later I would learn that common knowledge dictates that Dragon's glory days were well behind it by this point.

None of this mattered to me at the time.

The reason for this relates to something I still see to this day whenever I encounter someone just getting into the hobby. People tend to think of RPGs as solely synonymous with "D&D" (or miniatures games with "Warhammer"), and there's always this palpable sense of mixed shock and excitement when I show them just how many games are really out there, how many unvisited opportunities there are, twinkling in the unexplored vastness of hobby-space, if you will. As I was my own mentor in the hobby, it was this issue of Dragon that constituted my own eye-opening moment.

The issue's table of contents boasts articles for Call of Cthulhu, AD&D, and Top Secret. The review section offers an overview of horror gaming (as it stood at the time) and reviews Cthulhu Now, Beyond the Supernatural, S. Petersen's Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters, and GURPS Horror, 2nd edition. (And how's that for a classic line-up of horror gaming goodness?) There is also an article on introducing a plague epidemic to your fantasy world, with enough learned background on the Black Death that I was able to write a report for my 7th-grade history class using that article as my sole reference, and an article on how to paint skeletal miniatures that has informed my approach ever since.

The articles were only one half of the equation, however. Every bit as exciting to me were the ads, for these spoke of yet more untapped gaming pleasures: Victorian sci-fi (Space: 1889), Hoth (WEG's Star Wars), giant robots (Robotech), turtles (TMNT and Other Strangeness), ratmen (the newly-released Skaven miniatures), post-apocalypse (Twilight: 2000), "knights of chaos" (a new Ral Partha line), and some place called "Waterdeep".

The D&D boxed sets captured my imagination, sure, but issue 138 of Dragon is where I fell in love with the tabletop gaming hobby for good.
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