The Early Years
For some reason, I can still recall many of the details from that exact moment that I was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons. I think the year was 1980 which would have made me five years old. At that time in my life, my parents spent a considerable amount of time partying at their friend’s house. Crazy hippies. This was fine with my brother and I (who was two years older than me) since one of the couples had two sons; one was the same age as my brother (who I will call Jason to protect the innocent) and the other was the same age as me (who I’ll call David). The parents would hang out on the main floor doing things best not seen by children’s eyes, and the four of us kids would amuse ourselves downstairs by playing board games or Atari. Every now and then one of the parents would stagger downstairs to make sure that we were still alive, or we would rise from the cellars into the thick, smoky air of the Overworld in search of snacks.
On one particular night, my friend’s uncle (let’s call him Roland) was visiting Jason and David’s dad. He must not have been partying with the other grownups very much though because I recall him sitting in a corner by himself hunched over a bunch of books, some strangely shaped reddish-orange dice, and a bag full of half-painted lead figurines. I remember Jason asking Roland if we could play with him. I also remember quite vividly my parents quickly interjecting by telling us that it wasn’t suitable for children, especially ones as young as David and I.
I didn’t get to play that night, but something about that game seemed to just click with me and I became addicted instantly. I have no recollection how it came to be, but our little foursome somehow got a hold of those books and figurines not too long after that night. Maybe Jason’s parents bought him his own boxed set, or maybe Roland simply left his books at the house and forgot about them. I’m sure Jason could tell me if I asked him, but either way, there was no way we were going to part with them after that. In fact, I bet I still have those little lead figurines in my basement somewhere to this day (I don’t think they were referred to as miniatures in those days).
Jason and I took to the game more than my brother and David did, which was a little odd considering that we were the farthest apart in age and should have the least amount in common, but for a while at least all four of us would play together. We didn’t have a very good handle of the rules at that time but we mastered the most important one right away – “thou shalt use thy imagination to have fun”. At first, Jason took the role of the Dungeon Master, but it didn’t take long before I was the one wanting to run the show.
The Pre-Teen Years
As the years rolled by and D&D began to evolve into a much more sophisticated game, I continued to pour a considerable amount of time and energy into it as my brother and David gradually lost interest. Jason still had a strong interest in D&D, as well as a bunch of other types of games, and we would still play occasionally. More often than not though, I was the one wanting to get together so I could make him play the latest game of my own design (such as my G.I. Joe RPG game) or to run him though my home-brewed campaign. Other roleplaying games eventually began to surface and we tried those out too, but nothing compared to the original. There is always something special about your first love.
The Teen Years
And then everything changed when I discovered girls. Ha, ha, I’m just kidding. That’s not true at all. If anything, I played even more D&D during junior high and high school than I did when I was a pre-teen. The only difference now was that although I still loved the game, and so did my closest friends, we were keenly aware that girls did not. So we played D&D in semi-secret when we weren’t out on the prowl making a point of not talking about our extra-curricular activities in the presence of the fairer sex. I like to think that I understood the difference between being a geek (which I thought was cool), and acting like a geek (not so cool). Some of you might think poorly of me for being ashamed of being a gamer, but you have to keep in mind that geek culture was most definitely not popular at that time, and there was no way in hell I was going to let a game get in the way of my other . . . pursuits. And if it wasn’t for this time in my life, I would never have come up with my website name.
The University Years
Admittedly, my interest in D&D waned a little during my college and university years, but I suppose that is to be expected. After all, considering the amount of loans I accrued during my six years of post-secondary education, I figured that passing might be a good idea. I also met my wife during this time, and although I made no attempt to hide my interest in gaming from her like I might have in the past, she made it pretty clear that it was not he thing. I kinda felt that maybe Dungeons & Dragons was destined to fade into a fond memory from my youth like it did for so many others.
The Working Years
It turns out that although the flames may have dwindled down to just an ember, the fire never truly went out. That became apparent to me when I started to finally earn a little bit of disposable income and 3.5 Edition books began to magically appear on my shelves when the wife wasn’t looking. I still didn’t have anyone to play the game with but at least I could get my fix by looking at the art and enjoying the quality of other people’s work. And then along came Paizo with their Pathfinder Beta Playtest book in 2008 which pretty much rekindled my addiction. Thanks a lot guys.
Nowadays, as a full-time engineer, a non-gamer wife, and three kids, it’s hard to find the time and people to play my favorite game of all time with. Instead, I must be content to focus my energies on developing my game design skills as I did in my youth, and attempt to create something of quality so I can give back to the D&D/Pathfinder community in hopes that others might get the same level of enjoyment that I have from this truly fantastic game.
Here’s to another 36 years!