Thursday, October 14, 2010

Starting the stories

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Master's Guide
The first Dungeons & Dragons
book that I ever looked at.
I first encountered pen and paper role playing games when I was in third and fourth grade. This was back in the early 80s and my mom had me in a carpool in order to get me home from my school. Some of the kids that I rode along with were much older and involved in Boy Scouts. We generally dropped by a number of schools and homes on the way to my final destination, picking up and dropping off child cargo as we went. It could take a long time from being picked up to actually arriving at the final destination, be it school or home. To pass the time, these boys played a game in the van with meticulously drawn maps on graph paper and lots of interesting colored dice and books with interesting and terrifying monsters on the covers.

Player's Handbook (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st edition)
The second Dungeons & Dragons book that I ever read.
I blame this image of the two thieves stealing the
jeweled eye for my penchant for
playing thieves and rogues

The game they were playing was something called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

I was fascinated, but not allowed to play. The parents that shuttled us around thought I was too young. However, they didn't see the harm in letting me listen in on the boys' adventures and look through the books when they didn't need to look something up.

I was hooked.

A couple of years later, my family moved to another state. My dad was in the military and we didn't stay in one place for very long. We moved into on base housing and two boys happened to live in the town house next door. As a way of welcoming us, the parents suggested that the boys show us around and we became fast friends. A couple of days later, their dad brought home a pop up camper that needed to be aired out before being used for the summer and set it up in the parking spaces out front and I was invited to "camp" out there for the night.

With no TV and a hot Southern night in the mix, we all started to wonder if this camp out was such a good idea after all. Inevitably we started complaining about being bored. While searching through the drawers for something to do, we ran across some graph paper and I remembered the games that were played in my carpool. So I described the game as best as I could remember it to my new friends and they wanted to play that game. When I explained that I didn't have the books, they encouraged me to just make it up from what I could remember.

So, we played the game. Well, maybe not the game, but a game. They created characters by asking me various questions about what they needed. I spent a few minutes creating a dungeon on the graph paper and we found some six sided dice in another drawer that we used to roll for hits and other stuff.

They loved it. 

Dungeons and & Dragons D&D Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set in Red Box I wouldn't find out how much until later that year when my parents surprised me on my birthday with a copy of the original red box set of Dungeons and Dragons (Wizards of the Coast have just released a new D&D Starter Set using the same art as the box that I received). Apparently the boys couldn't stop talking about this game that we played involving monsters and dungeons and their parents told my parents. When my mom and dad saw the red box on some random outing to the store, they remembered the word "dungeons" and decided that this just had to be what my friends' parents had been talking about.

We played that game for the next year. When we reached the maximum character levels, we'd retire the them and start from scratch.

A couple of years later, I moved somewhere else in town and found another group of kids my age that were already playing D&D. They were using the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules and weren't interested in playing my well worn vanilla edition. I didn't mind, I was happy to be a player instead of the only Dungeon Master. When my new DM was looking to play, our group started branching out into other role playing games  that started springing up around that time.

Palladium Books Presents: Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing GameI started by stumbling across Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness in that back of a doll and collectible stuffed animal store that wasn't far from our neighborhood (that's another story). I was a fan of the graphic novels, so it seemed a good fit. After that, I picked up the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game as it used the same rule set as TMNT. Fast on its heels was Paranoia: A Role Playing Game of a Darkly Humorous Future, and Call of Cthulhu: Horror Roleplaying in the Worlds of H. P. Lovecraft. We dipped our toes into nearly every system and every world. We played games constantly and read fantasy, pulp horror, and science fiction books incessantly as potential sources of inspiration. I remember reading Moby Dick in seventh grade for extra credit (a challenge that our teacher thought no one would take up) and thinking "this would make an awesome game!" 

My friends and I were some of the most voracious readers that I knew. Sometimes it would get us into trouble. The parochial school that we attended didn't look too kindly on the monsters and demons that graced the covers of our books and the school finally gave up calling to inform our parents of what we were reading after consistently being told that "yes, they were aware of what we were reading" and "no, it didn't bother them."

HackMaster Basic RPG I moved again to attend high school and played off and on through those years. Never as much or in as varied a set of games as the previous five years. When I went away to college, I stopped playing altogether and focused more on school.

Within the last two years, I've started to come back to gaming. I've been playing hobby boardgames since just after college and some of the bleed over between that and role playing games started to pique my interest. I remembered how much I loved playing, and really missed it.

While at Gencon 2009 with my wife, who was covering the board gaming side, I picked up the HackMaster Basic RPG on a whim. Those earlier experiences with other games had me gravitating away from Dungeons and Dragons proper. I liked it. Later, I won a copy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook by entering a story into an Atomic Array podcast contest. I liked it so much, I've since bought the The Pathfinder Bestiary, which is truly awesome. At this year's Gencon, I picked up a copy of the Spirit of the Century RPG and, as a result, I've become a complete FATE system fan . I recently won another contest put on by Atomic Array, and just received Rogue Games'  Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic, which I am enjoying very much (its 12 degrees engine has a number of features similar to what I love about FATE).

All this is to say. I'm back. I've missed this stuff and I'd like to give a little something back to the community that I've enjoyed so much in the past and that's welcomed this wayward player back into the fold.

** Storied Adventures is written by a lapsed role playing geek. It is one man's chronicle of embracing one more of his many geeky facets. I have no ongoing financial relationship with any of the games listed, though I was lucky enough to win a copy of the the Pathfinder Role Playing Game and Shadow, Sword & Spell (thanks, Ed & Rone) and Richard Iorio of Rogue Games also sent me a copy of a Shadow, Sword & Spell adventure (thanks, Richard). I am, however, attached to my wife's Amazon affiliate account, so purchases made through any Amazon links support the ongoing blogging efforts of Storied Adventures (many thanks!)

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations for comming back to the fold, and its good to see more people getting interested in Fate, my group and I also recently switched from Pathfinder to Fate, we just love the freedom of creating it gives us.

    And its cool your parents supported your erading in those times where people and schools messed with ones reading. again cheers!