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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Continuing my humble beginnings...

(This text actually taken from my original attempt at the RPG4EVR blog, unedited.)

In the cold month of October in 1984, my journey into the realm of role playing games began after several months of anticipation. In those days, games like Dungeons & Dragons had a label stating "Ages 10 to adult". For some reason my friends and I adhered to that. Once I turned 10 years old, I was officially inducted into role playing.

I started like many role players, with TSR's Dungeons & Dragons. I remember the first book I received from my parent's one Christmas after becoming a role player: Fiend Folio - which was a monster book for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I had a book no one else in my friend group could claim or find, and I was very proud.

It took a while, but I became so accustomed to the rules that I started Dungeon Mastering. I allowed my imagination to take me to lands I had never seen or even dreamt of before. My biggest problem was that my imagination only went so far. I admit that in those early times… and even sometimes today… I take plots and storylines from movies, TV and books and warp them to my design. I forget how many different versions of Conan or Merlin I had created as characters or how many times I've used the plotline from movies like The Professional or the Indiana Jones films. I never took the entirety of the story, though; just key elements of the story to get the feel of the adventure.

When the George Lucas movie Willow came out, my attentions were focused. I had stories revolving around it, designed characters based off of it, and began my interest in drawing melee weapons. Swords were my favorite, since they were the easiest to draw. I had a spiral notebooks devoted to these ideas and drawings. I had double-bladed, triple-bladed, double-ended, wavy, bent, long, short and various other types of swords. It was never about the functionality of the sword, only the way it looked to me.

During my phase of sword drawing, I came-up with an idea for a set of 5 swords that corresponded to the 5 major evil dragons in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Each sword had powers reflecting the dragon it was based from. The red sword would give protection from fire and have other fire-based powers. White would have cold protection and powers. And so on. I initially designed these because of my interest in dragons... much like any young boy. But then my interest came around to Her. She took my breath away every time I looked at Her. I was smitten. This wasn't my first love, but it had a deeper impact than the childhood crushes before. The She/Her I refer to is none other than the Queen of Dragonkind - Tiamat!

She first came to me in the Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon. She was the perfect combination of all the dragons I had already grown to admire. I didn't really think about that fact that She was evil. It never really entered my mind. I understand the difference between Good and Evil, but it didn't really mean that much to me at the time.

In the early months of my role playing "career", it was just my friend Scott and I. We would get together several times a week to play Dungeons & Dragons. At this time, we only had a few books. Thankfully, our local library carried several of the books we didn't have and we checked the out on a regular basis. As time went by, these books would be the target of theft from the library and they would discontinue carrying them or similar books. The last time I was able to check-out a copy of Wilderness Survival Guide for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was back in 1988, I believe. That was the last role playing book I had ever checked-out from the library.

We soon discovered that Scott and I were not the only boys in our neighborhood that enjoyed the occasional game of Dungeons & Dragons. We soon made friends with another role-player on the next street over. His name was James and he was a year older than I, just like Scott. James brought our interest into games other than Dungeons & Dragons, such as Champions.

Dungeons & Dragons involved having an entire set of dice; d4, d6, d8, 2d10, d12 & d20. Champions only needed the tradition six-sided die. When I first started playing Champions, I raided every board game we had in the house for extra dice. Yahtzee, Monopoly, Aggravation, Kizmet and so on. At one point, I had a collection of about 32 six-sided dice. At one point during a session of Champions, I think I only ever used 20 at the most.

While we focused ourselves on Champions, we made friends with another role playing soul; Shawn. He had recently moved up from California, and had been playing about as long as any one of us. He became the friend we always wanted to game with because he was innovative and exciting. He also introduced us to new games such as Marvel Super Heroes, Top Secret and the Palladium role playing system which includes games like Robotech and Heroes Unlimited. We were gradually increasing our realm of interest of games we would play. This would later turn into trouble for many of us… myself included.

The next-door neighbor to James had purchased a mobile home trailer that he had parked near James' house. One summer, we asked if we could use it for a Memorial Day weekend, and he agreed to our request. We didn't take it anywhere, as none of us were old enough to have a driver's license at that time. We lived in it for the next 3 days just role playing. I remember that we started with a session of Champions, but we spent the bulk of the weekend playing TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). It was James, Shawn and I and it was one of the best weekends I had spent in a long time. (This was also well before puberty, so none of us had those interests, yet.)

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