#RPGaDay2022 – Day 3: When

The third question for #RPGaDay2022 asks us to cast our minds back to our own introduction into the hobby. This is to give greater context to the ongoing theme underpinning this week’s thread of questions. How do I know that that is what these questions are about? I wrote them. Of course, the beauty of the questions is that they are prompts, not commandments. Do with them what you will, or bypass them entirely, we just ask everyone to be positive about the hobby in whatever you share.

That is a lot of purple dice, isn’t it?


I was first introduced to an actual roleplaying game in 1983. I had moved to yet another new town the year before and had been having some trouble with making friends. It’s not easy to move to start Grade 7 at the best of times, and I left a very comfortable place where I had fantastic friends, to arrive in a very depressing place with a lot more trouble looking for shoulders to come crashing down on. I lived quite close to the former site of the Esther Cox home if that gives you some clue about what a cheery place it could be. It wasn’t all bad, but that’s just what you say when there was very little good about something.

Yes, we read this in class, although with a less lurid cover.

I did, of course, make a few friends, and some of those friendships persisted all the way through to the end of high school and some of the ones that did endured even longer – one to this very day. One of those early friendships started with a shared love of books and computers. Talking about books led to discussion of the Choose Your Own Adventure books we had. We quickly borrowed each other’s books and had even more to say to each other as a result. Talking about computers meant talking about VIC20s, Commodore64s, and my TI 99/4a. That led to talking about video games and that led to talking about the Tunnels of Doom cartridge I really wanted to get. I had played it at a friend’s in my previous town and really, really wanted more of what it offered. I never got that cartridge (I had to make do with Alpiner and Parsec), but that conversation led to my getting to play B/X (well, just B really). This was the experience I had enjoyed in books and in Tunnels of Doom but so very much better.

That first game was killer, but it followed from the sort of session 0 which was common back then. We flipped through the rules, we talked about the character types and what they were good for, and then we copied out the ‘to hit’ matrix from page B27 onto looseleaf and extended them beyond “level 4 and higher” and beyond AC -3. He wanted me to get a good sense of how insignificant a Level 1 character could be and to not be too attached in case one perished. I found out much later how many characters he had lost in games with his much older brothers, and I think it was a real kindness for him to point out their frailty.

He was quite transparent about the type of preparation he did (map making, dungeon stocking, context setting) and I really fell in love with RPGs in that very first session. The second session cemented the relationship with gaming as I was the DM. This is the second aspect of this introduction that I really appreciate: it totally normalized the idea that there was no such thing as a permanent DM. I would not encounter people who had that experience for almost a decade.

Later that school year, during vacation, I got to play Mentzer basic with some other folks in another town. They created their setting differently. The rules seemed different, but not that different. What I now call culture of play was the big difference. It got me thinking of roleplaying gaming as a thing which required more of its players than the games I had played before I had been introduced to RPGs. There were skills to learn, there were procedures to understand and perhaps define. There were interactions to work out and smooth. This was the final knot that bound me to RPGs for life.

If I had not been introduced to RPGs and as a result made a series of good friends, my time in that awful town would have been decidedly different. RPGs made the bad times better, and through life they have continued to do so. Not just that, they made the good times great~

Tomorrow’s question looks at the venue you would select for this first game with your new inductee into gaming. If you cannot stand to wait, you can hear my answer in my combined Week One video on YouTube (See below). If you can wait (and remember that patience is a virtue) then come on back here on August 4th.

2 Responses to “#RPGaDay2022 – Day 3: When”
  1. 1983, in Garwood NJ

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