…yeah, that’s a very obscure reference, Dementoids
A Remembrance Of Games Gone By
As some of my LJ friends have done today, I hereforth tell the tale of my first encounter with Dungeons & Dragons.
It was late November of 1976 and my first wife and I had been living in the Eugene/Springfield, Oregon area for just shy of 2 months. I was newly out of the Navy and trying hard to put the memory of that 4 years behind me.
In Eugene, there was a bookstore that I found had a reasonably good selection of sci-fi, fantasy, etc. One day, while visiting there, I heard two young college age guys talking about something called Dungeons & Dragons. I had never heard of it before then, but from what the one was telling the other, it appeared to be a game where you could play a Conanesque fighter or a Gandalflike mage and go adventuring in dungeons.
Being a longtime fan of Tolkien, Lieber and Howard, this intrigued me, so I introduced myself and asked them about D&D. The one fellow, whose name is lost in the mists of middle aged memory, excitedly told me about the game and how cool it was to go through dungeons gathering loot and killing monsters. His friend, who I found had not yet played the game, told me a guy who was a “DM” was starting up a new dungeon and was looking for players. I got info and phone numbers from them and left, thinking that I’d check this D&D thing out.
About a week later, I showed up at the DM’s home. It was actually his parents home, but they were on vacation and he had the run of the house. (in fact, this 30+ guy still lived with his folks, had a part time job delivering bundles of newspapers and looked like every stereotypical cat piss man gamer I’ve ever met since then…but he was the first).
There were 6 players and after a few minutes of chat and introductions, we all created characters, with mine being a human fighter. I think I had 7 hit points. It was all very exciting to me and I was already thinking of how I’d buckle a swash or two. Then we entered the dungeon.
For about 30 minutes, not much happened. We found the bones of a few previous adventurers, searched a room that yielded a bit of loot and went deeper into the darkness. Then, out of a side tunnel, came a couple of orcs. A pitched battle ensued, which damned near killed several of us. Still, it was exciting and fun and we got some more loot. Life was looking good.
The next hour went much the same, except that our Elven archer got killed, we met a strange old man who healed us in exchange for half our loot and we found a passage to a lower level. Naturally, flush with full hit points, we went down to level 2.
And got killed by a troll. Utterly wiped out. No survivors. Game session over.
Now, not knowing any better, I assumed we had just messed up somehow. Maybe we should avoid going down to Level 2 next time.
Wouldn’t have mattered. The next session was all about traps, which picked us off until we were all dead.
Session 3? Horde of orcs handed us our sliced off asses.
Sessions 4-6? More Killer DM fun.
I created a new character each time, only to see him die. Talking with the other players, I could feel the dissension in the ranks. This game could be better…be more fun. After the last session, one player, whose name was Tom (the only name I really remember, now) had pretty much decided to start DMing his own game, with “less dying and shit”.
Alas, by this point, my marriage had entered the “argument of the day” stage and was working rapidly towards critical mass. I played no more D&D in Oregon, or anywhere else, for about a year and a half. But I never forgot those early wonderful and frustrating sessions, so that when I next played D&D, I knew what I wanted out of the game. Even more importantly, it planted the seeds of GMing in me, which eventually lead me into a whole series of real life adventures.
But that’s another story:)