Sunday, February 2, 2014

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

First person you introduced to D&D. Which edition? Their first character?

Unlike my own introduction to D&D, this memory is a lot less shrouded in quantum uncertainties.

The same year I played D&D for the first time, my family relocated (or re-relocated, as the case may be) back to my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I reconnected with my old friends, went back to my old school - life was good. It was then that I decided to take the plunge and buy the Mentzer boxed set for myself.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get any of my old friends interested in playing with me. By this point I had entered middle school, and I met a few other kids who played (or claimed to), but just couldn't manage to get a game together. I was nevertheless getting increasingly immersed in the hobby, buying new games and back issues of Dragon magazine. Then we moved again.

The pickings turned out to be even slimmer at my new junior high. I made a good friend in a kid named Alex, and he was interested in RPGs, but try as we might we couldn't get anyone else to buy in. Finally, by our freshman year in high school, we got sick of waiting around and decided to get together for a game, just the two of us.

I was still primarily interested in being a player, so we rationalized our decision by saying that I was going to run some games for Alex as a way to familiarize him with the RPG experience so that he could start running games of his own. (The previous year he had gone to buy himself a Player's Handbook and had somehow walked out of the Game Keeper with a Gray Box instead, so he was itching to run some adventures in the Realms. It took him years to finally buy a PHB of his own.)

Best I can figure, it was a Sunday afternoon some time in late September 1992 when I had Alex over and we went about getting him set up with a character. After all those years of delayed gratification, I was giddy with excitement at the prospect of finally being able to game. I recall that we used one of the wonkier attribute generation methods in the DMG, the one where you roll 3d6 twelve times, pick the best six rolls, and assign them at will. Alex ended up with a half-elf ranger he named Arthur McArthur; we had encountered the name in a history textbook and thought it was hilarious, not really understanding the historical context in our callowness.

I had designed a kobold dungeon full to the brim with nasty tricks and traps. Alex hired a henchman he dubbed Patsy and headed in. I think he made it through three rooms before setting off a fireball trap. Arthur McArthur was incinerated and Patsy barely survived. The faithful servant dragged his employer's corpse back to town and the local priest volunteered to resurrect the ranger (mainly because I wanted an excuse to roll on the random resurrection table). We kept rolling until we got something cool. I think we ended up on troll.

All in all, it was a pretty lame session, but I was just happy to be playing finally. The funny thing is that we very quickly got away from that sort of bog-standard D&D experience. We were never that big on dungeon crawling, or hiring henchmen, or resurrection/reincarnation magic, or any of that. Hell, we weren't even that big on D&D per se: the next day at school, we started talking about me running a Rifts game. I loaned Alex my copies of Atlantis, Vampire Kingdoms, and the main book, and some time during the week he created an Atlantean Undead Slayer named Douglas von Holsing. The following Sunday, we played our first game of Rifts, and it was only after that session, I think, that we both knew we'd be playing RPGs for a long time to come.
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