I don't know if this has been done before, or recently (I'm out of the loop), but wouldn't it be fun to collate a vast collection of anecdotes about people's first time playing RPGs, and especially playing D&D?
I think I've told this story on the blog before, but I've now been doing this so long I can no longer remember specific posts very well, and whenever I put anything in the search bar on my Blogger dashboard I get dozens of results which take a long time to wade through. Anyway, for those of you who are not sufficiently expert in every detail of my biography:
My friend's big brother had got his hands on the classic Basic D&D 'red box' from somewhere, and invited my friend and I and another person (I can't remember who - in my vague memories of the occasion, he sits to one side like a faceless, shadowy ghost) to play a game. I had already read lots of Fighting Fantasy books, and had read all three volumes of Advanced Fighting Fantasy, so I was familiar with the concept - or thought I was - and had spent a lot of time daydreaming about how cool and grown-up a hobby D&D seemed to be. (Bear in mind I was probably about 11 years old.) So I was very keen to give it a try.
I rolled up a halfling; my two colleagues rolled up a magic-user and a dwarf. I think I had in mind a model a little bit like Tas from the Dragonlance book - the main thing I remember was being very pleased my PC had a DEX of 16. Without any prelude (ah, those were the days!) we ventured into a dungeon. In the first room, we encountered and killed what in my memory was a carrion crawler, although that seems like a tough fight for three 1st level PCs. In the second room, we encountered a mature red dragon. We then spent the entire session trying to convince it not to kill and eat us, making a succession of increasingly creative and desperate arguments. In the end, it breathed fire on us all and killed us. The whole thing was, in essence, a contrivance by which the DM could enjoy tormenting a group of younger, impressionable kids.
I bore no resentment towards my friend's big brother - it is the god-given duty of a big brother to piss all over his younger brother and his mates at every opportunity - but I do remember thinking, 'That can't be what the game is all about.' I've been trying to figure out what it is all about ever since.
[I am currently running a Kickstarter for the 2nd edition of Yoon-Suin, the renowned campaign toolbox for fantasy games. You can back it here.]
I vividly remember buying the AD&D Player's Guide from a poky (now long-closed) bookshop. There was a wire carousel with all the brown class supplements, and a shelf of the boxed settings. Dark Sun, I remember, caught my eye.ReplyDelete
Can't remember at all the first time I played D&D, but my first RPG session was WEG's Star Wars. My brother and I ran one of the adventures in a GM-less, collaborative way, I think it was Black Ice. My brother's PC was a Talon Karrde-type smuggler, and my guy was some kind of soldier/engineer wearing an awkward Aliens-style loader rig (because there was a picture of one in a supplement, and it looked cool). We used those little micro machines SW figures for the combat. Happy times.
This was the first for me: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/284569/FastPlay-Game--Dungeons--Dragons-Worlds-of-Adventure-2eReplyDelete
I picked the halfling thief and we went through a quick 3 or 4 room dungeon where every room is connected linearly, fighting rats, skeletons, and finally a ghoul. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world! Looking back though that adventure was really, really primitive, but it shows just how basic first RPG offerings can be for new players, especially middle schoolers.
When I was 7 or 8, my older brother ran the AD&D 2nd edition intro adventure "The Ruined Tower" for me - a completely linear intro dungeon included in both Eye of the Wyvern and (apparently) Wrath of the Minotaur. I played a centaur fighter named "Smash-hoof" because we had a lot of Greek mythology picture books and we were into the Heroes of Might & Magic computer game, which includes axe-wielding centaurs as a unit. The biggest challenge was getting over the "low wall" marked on the map to enter the dungeon, because I couldn't figure out how a horse could scale it and my brother struggled to communicate to me that the wall was about 2 feet tall and I could just step over it. We later ran through the rest of Eye of the Wyvern with one of his friends, splitting the pregenerated characters included in the module between us.ReplyDelete
Nice, same for me! I've not heard many people speak of "The Ruined Tower" in the last 25 years...Delete
I loved Heroes of Might & Magic. Might need to write a blog post about that.Delete
West End Games Star Wars for me, too. Back of the car on a long trip, probably returning from my grandmother's house. My brother and I were playing smugglers running around a spaceport. I was both GM and PC.ReplyDelete
Were you able to resist treating your PC more favourably than the others??Delete
August 25th, 1977. Brooklyn, NY. Age 8.ReplyDelete
A kid a year younger than me walked up to my friends and I in front of our Middle School a week or so before school had started (pretty brave as social moves go), and asked if anyone wanted to try this new game he got. His older brother taught him to play.
The full story is here:
I saw the old Realms ads in the back of comics and was then gifted a used old basic red box from a cousin. 1987. I was 10. I have a distinct memory of reading it in on the floor of a crowded gym during a soccer tournament. I then hijacked a friended birthday party and ran them through Caldwell Castle. I remember cheating to not kill them with the rust monster. Also a ridiculous “riddle” barring entrance to the lower level which my friend yelled out instantly “oh what a goose I am!”ReplyDelete
I heard about "Oh what a goose I am" being somewhere in a D&D module - that must have been it!Delete
My father bought my brother and me the 3e starter box in a physical Wizards of the Coast store in the Tacoma Mall. I think it was maybe 2000 or 2001 before 9/11. Dad had played some 1e in college but had been away from the hobby for a long time. Dad DM'd and my brother and I played. Since there were only the two of us, we each ran multiple characters; I had the human fighter and the halfling rogue, and my brother had the dwarf fighter and dwarf cleric. I think the two most memorable encounters of that era were a gelatinous cube that couldn't get to us through a doorway so we killed it with arrows, and my fighter getting insta-killed from full HP by an x3 crit from an orc with a greataxe. I fled the table weeping and ultimately we retconned it. I was a paranoid powergamer and over-preparer for a long time after to avert such fates. It was a formative experience.ReplyDelete
"Since death may come for us this very day, this very hour, how can he who fears it have any steadfastness of soul?" - Cicero
Mine ended up too long for a comment, but in short: 1996ish, Black Box, all-nighter, rambling nonsense.ReplyDelete
Was playing Basic D&D (forget which flavor). We spent forever making our character. The fighter opened the door of the dungeon and was immediately killed by an arrow trap. Chaos ensued. The campaign ended then and there.ReplyDelete
Now that's D&D.Delete
I wrote mine, and got a bunch of others (via links I included as well as comments received), here: https://lichvanwinkle.blogspot.com/2021/01/how-you-started.htmlReplyDelete
November 18, 1977. I'm at my best friend's birthday. He gets the Holmes Basic D&D set as a present. Everyone wants to play. I'm a bit unsure of this game and offer to be the referee and he's the GM (some confusion here... :-) ) so I'm watching and reading. I stay up all night reading and re-reading the book and in the morning I announce I'm ready to run a dungeon (using the Dungeon Geomorphs and Monster and Treasure Assortment provided in the box). I was hooked...ReplyDelete
Around 2000 I was about 7 or 8 years old and i purchased a 3e boxed set just based on the cover art. I brought the game over to my grandparents and played with my grandmother. She was a good sport and humored me for about an hour but I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. We loved to play board games but I think dnd was a little more than she bargained for.ReplyDelete
My first time with D&D was Spelljammer, 2nd ed AD&D, around age 15 when I'd already played a bunch of other RPGs. I remember thinking this system is absolutely bonkers but at least it's got a setting to match. And I was right!ReplyDelete
My first time roleplaying was age 12ish with a classmate who played RuneQuest and ran a solo adventure for me to show me what it was like. I don't remember much but it started with my character going into an inn for a night, and the innkeeper was impolite and suspicious so for some reason I was convinced he was going to come and kill me at night, so I got into manic detail boobytrapping the room against intrusion. I wanted to put shards of broken glass smeared with gunk from the chamberpot upright in the floorboards and set the bed up leaning against a wall so I could shove it on the innkeep when he came in and smash him in between the bed and the pungee glass. And when no one came to murder me I escaped through a window and just ran off. I realized later my friend must have been really frustrared that I was conpletely oblivious to his intended adventure and just behaved like a paranoid lunatic but I guess it was a learning experience for us both.
Mine was weird, because I managed to make it to college (in the early 90s) without realizing that tabletop RPGs are a thing. I knew that Dungeons and Dragons existed, that it was a game of some sort, and that it was a fantasy thing with castles and wizards and such, but I only knew it as a *computer* game. To be fair, I was really into computers and computer games, and had played a lot, including D&D games, so I had a general idea what sort of game it was: you made a character and went adventuring and whether you succeeded or failed depended a lot on your character's stats and on random numbers, rather than how quickly you the player could pull the trigger. I kind of liked the idea (my trigger finger was quite slow) and had toyed around with creating such a game of my own.ReplyDelete
I was sitting in a classroom before class, discussing computer games with another student, and he was talking about one of them that he was playing, and how much freedom the designers had been able to give the player. I didn't realize it at the time, but he segued into talking about a tabletop RPG (Palladium, IIRC), and as he described what his character had done, I was in awe at the game devs who had managed to foresee a player doing something so off-the-wall and had coded it into the game. Then, he explained that there was no computer, and everything was done in the heads of the players, and that there was one player who controlled the world and everyone else in it, my mind was blown and I knew I had to try this.
I went home that day, raided a Yahtzee set for some dice, and wrote up a simple set of rules based on an idea I had had for a combination fantasy/SF computer game, and ran a game for some friends. It was an instant hit, and I continued running my makeshift game for quite some time, and it grew more and more complex. Eventually, I picked up my first actual published set of RPG rules (GURPS, which by this time was a step *down* in complexity from what I was using). It's still my favorite rule set, though I have played (and GMed) many others since then.