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20 years of playing D&D

Orius

Adventurer
I can't remember exactly when I started playing, but I know it was early summer 1993. So sometime during the end of June or beginning of July. That makes it 20 years now since I started playing D&D. I was working as a councilor at the local scout camp, and got introduced to the game. The guy who was DMing was in his early thirties I think, and had been playing since at least 1e. He had the original 1e PHB, which I briefly looked through (I only remember a few pages), and he talked about some of the devious traps he'd use on his players like a puzzle that if incorrectly solved summoned Demogorgon for the party to battle.

From what I now know about the game, I can only conclude that he was a killer DM.

I hadn't played the game before but I was well aware of its existance from things like the D&D cartoon and all sorts of merchandising in the early 80s. And some fallout from the tail end of the Satanic Panic. Sometime later I'd read through some of the early Choose Your Own Adventure rip-off books that TSR had produced that were at the local library. Those books, and a similar series geared towards younger readers that I had a few copies of introduced me to a few of D&D's monsters years before I had even played the game: color-coded dragons, gorgons, gelatinous cubes, and elementals I definitely remember from those books.

Anyway, I was interested in the game, but didn't know anything abut it, so I asked to sit in an watch it and the DM agreed. So while about 10-12 people (!) all rolled up some characters and proceeded to play, I sat off to the side and looked through what I think was the rulebook for the Red Box (IIRC the book had a red cover. I don't remember much else about it. Like if Bargle was in it
killing Aleena
.). So it was pretty much a game of Basic D&D characters being run by a killer 1e DM who I think just made stuff up as he went along. Awesome. Not much happened in the game, there was some rping then when night fell, the DM unleashed one of his favorite critters upon the inn where the PCs had rooms: a rust monster. They killed it, but not after a cleric picked up the rust monster to pet it (no, really), with the rather predictable result to her armor. The DM I think took the descripton of it "looks like an armadillo" literally, because it was the size of one. The DM unleashed the thing on the inn with the express purpose of rusting party's gear, that was the reason he liked the rust monster so much, but even he was surprised the cleric wanted to get touchy-feely with it.

Anyway, the next day I asked to play in a smaller game, and he agreed. So me and two other guys just used the character sheets rolled up for the other game, and proceeded to explore some underground tunnel. After forcing open a stick door we encounter some geezer who insisted we leave out weapons outside, which made me immediately suspiscious of his motives. I don't remember exactly what happened, but we were captured by a bunch of nasty female elves who if weren't drow sure as hell acted like them. I refused to be made a slave, and having been reading some Conan books at the time, took my cue from them, grabbed a spear from one of them and stabbed her. (This required two back-to-back natural 1 rolls, the DM mixing up 1 and 20 for some reason, and I actually made them.) My rebellion was very short lived, as the other elves beat me unconcious. Then another player followed my lead, only to have the elves make an example of my PC by stabbing a pair of spears into his throat. My first casualty! The third player spent the entire time trying to convince the elves to make him into a sex slave instead.

Anyway, that game fell apart a few days later after come of the councilors quit, and a few other wanted to play instead. So the next game had only six players, with me joining the group. Since I hadn't played before, guess which class I got volunteered to play. And not just any cleric, I got the cleric who'd fondled the rust monster! "I don't want this character". "We need a cleric, and you're playing a female, so you can do stuff like ride unicorns." Yeah, that's going to convince me. This is 7 years before the CoDzilla edition, and about another 10 years before brony subculture emerged. I didn't want to play a female character, especially one that had lost her armor because of the previous player's actions. And I hate unicorns. Well, I wanted to replace the armor, but the guy who was trying to get some serious femdom from those drow wannabes or whatever they were farted around for like 20 minutes or so rping with the DM trying to buy a +2 axe (what's that about magical Wal-Marts again?) for his character while the rest of us got more and more bored. So finally we all left town with or without him. We encountered a bunch of pixes or something in the forest and they claimed to have tons and tons of l33t magical swag. So the guy got his axe or whatever, and they offered me a helmet with levitation powers which I thought sounded pretty useful so I bought it. About a mile or so out of their village though, the stuff all suddenly disappeared, and my PC fell on her ass because I was using the helm to levitate above the ground just because. That game ended not long after that.

Anyway, that short campaign fell apart a few days later. Since they'd all pretty much thought the DM was a killer, they decided to move up to 2e from BECMI for moar powerz so we could survive like 2 or 3 more encounters. "This DM says he like to use medusas. 'You all see a sexy woman in the shadows', then when your PC gets closer he turns you all to stone! So everyone take the Blind-Fighting proficiency." So they cracked open the 2e PHB, and rolled up some illegal characters. I wanted to play a wizard, so they rolled up a gnome fighter/mage (for the Int bonus, but gnomes can only be illusionists in 2e) for me, and gave him enough spell slots for a 4th level specialist wizard. For some reason they actually did hit points legit and I had 7 hp (why'd they not fudge cheat on that?). So after doing race and class, and combining both secondary skills and NWPs together for some reason, and all the other bits of character creation we were ready to hurl our characters into the jaws of death. They also brought in a MC binder which had the basic monsters and some of the FR and DL monsters, and another player had bought a Dark Sun splat everyone was drooling over (Dragon Kings IIRC).

So our characters ended up being captured by press gangs, only for the ship we were on to shipwreck at a deserted island with the whole crew dead. We poked around the island for a bit and ran into some evil skeleton dude in black armor. He was in a talkative mood, but everything he said ended up in something like "I'm going to kill all of you," so eventually we just rolled for initiative. We had some damn lucky rolls too, I think the DM was trying to get a TPK with the guy, but we smashed his bony ass. While trying to describe him, the DM showed us the illo on the MC binder page he was using which just happened to be the death knight. If the DM was using a death knight he was pulling a LOT of punches, like not using its fireball or power word: kill abilities. Like I said, I think the DM just winged everything. A little later we made camp. On my watch, the DM said that the wind seemed like it was picking up so I said I was using the Weather Sense proficiency. Then he rolls 4d4 and says "You take 16 points of damage. You're dead." The wind was just an invisible stalker which was just hanging around to gank one of us then it left. The other players weren't at all sympathetic either: "Dude, that monster's worth 3000 XP which we all just lost! Thanks!"

So that was it for my first D&D experiences. I was hooked anyway. I eventually ended up getting the black box Basic set and started running my own games (imagine my surprise when I saw that a 1st level MU's spells slot was 1, and not 4/3). Didn't get many game products until after I had graduated and started working, first the Arms and Equipment Guide and Psionics Handbook at some point, and then later the 2e PHB because I couldn't find a copy of the RC. In spring of 1995 I began working on my library in earnest: first the revised 2e DMG and the MM, the Fighter and Wizard Handbooks, and the volumes of the Encyclopedia Magica that had been released. Eventually I grabbed most of the PHB splats and I took an interest in Planescape because I'd been facinated by the concept of the planes ever since I'd first flipped through that 1e PHB and say the diagram of the planes there. I played on and off, just mostly DMing for the rest of 2e, though the small groups I was gaming with eventually broke up. I then moved on to playing and then running some games online in chat room during the end of 2e. I switched to 3e when it came out, but after 3.5 was released, my campaign fell apart and I'd gotten tired of trying run games in a chat room because I had a lot of player attrition. I haven't played much since in the last 10 years though, the last few games were some games I played in here, and a game I even tried to run, but it fell apart on me largely because I wasn't used to the pacing of a message board campaign.

Those first few experiences did shape a good deal of my approaches to the game as a DM though. I try to avoid killer DMing because I've been on the receiving end and it's not all that enjoyable, but I do like to let the players think I'm a killer because it's fun. Player paranoia's more enjoyable for me as a DM than TPKs anyway. That first DM said he didn't like to use any of the modules and stuff, and that's partially influenced me into largely sticking with homebrews. That and the enjoyment of worldbuilding and not quite knowing how to get a game in an official setting off the ground.
 

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Ahnehnois

First Post
I'm close to 15 years into this hobby (and close to 10 years on this site), and I'm still the newbie on ENW. Go figure.

My first DMing efforts were also pretty lousy, but useful learning experiences.
 

I started reading this thread saying to myself "holy crap, twenty years, he's been playing D&D for ages."
Then I saw the date you used (1993) and it hit me: I got into D&D twenty years ago as well. I don't think I managed to play "correctly" with the books and rules until several months later, well into 1994.

Huh, so my first time playing D&D was on the 20th anniversary of the game. Weird.
 

Jan van Leyden

Adventurer
Congratulations for your anniversary!

I'll be having my 30th this autumn. Perhaps I shopuld do the same thing as for my 25Th: getting the old band together and running some Moldvay Basic. Palace of the Silver Princess was a blast five yers ago!
 


Orius

Adventurer
I started reading this thread saying to myself "holy crap, twenty years, he's been playing D&D for ages."
Then I saw the date you used (1993) and it hit me: I got into D&D twenty years ago as well. I don't think I managed to play "correctly" with the books and rules until several months later, well into 1994.

Just think, some of the first players of the game have been pushing 40 years at this point. That's not counting the people in Dave and Gary's groups who were creating the basics of the game before it even got published.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I've been futzing with this game for now going on 32 years (1979/80) - I was just in 4th grade then, about 9-10 years old. I got the Holmes set for Christmas, and AD&D (1E) had just come out. The rules were too complicated for me, and I lost the rulebook within a month of getting it, leaving me with only B2. I DMed my friends - without the rule book and without dice (they weren't allowed at school - teachers thought they were for gambling) until about two years later when the Moldvay set came out.

The game I ran in those two years was an amalgam of things, but it always took place in a dungeon - which I later retconned into my 'Tsre Vestu' mountain campaign. One of my friends played a human wizard (Stormonu) another an elvin fighter/wizard (Arr Kann) while my third friend played a human ranger (Griffon). I had other people come and go in the game, but those three were the primary players - until Stormonu & Arr Kann got annoyed at Griffon and abandoned him to his death in a battle against some shadows. Since we weren't using dice, a lot of the game was based on exploration. Combat was completely narrative-driven though sometimes we'd use 'pick a random number 1-10' or rock-paper-scissors for the more 'epic' battles. What I find most interesting, however, was because the encounters were narrative monsters could be a lot more dangerous - even something as simple as a single animated skeleton could be life-threatening to the characters.

I did have one 'bad' experience back in those days - my friend (the one who played Stormonu) introduced me to a group who was playing D&D at the local library. We made up 1st level characters and were sent tromping through the wilderness area of B2 - an area I was pretty familiar with (see above). Unfortunately, without thinking a thing about it, I vocalized such - I loved that adventure and a chance to actually go through it from a player's perspective sounded great. However, being about 11 years old, I wasn't quite so articulate, and I'm guessing the DM took it as meaning I was planning to 'cheat' by having had memorized all the encounters. So, the DM (who was probably 15 or 16) apparently decided to kill our three-man group - by having us encounter a black dragon in the marshland area. Unfortunately for him (and not wanting to die some fifteen minutes into the game), I reminded him about the % chance it was sleeping - and it turned out to be so. I then convinced the party to subdue it. And to his apparent chagrin, we succeeded, which our elder cleric player made the mistake of chuckling over. So one of the other veteran players, who had been on the sidelines and watching this twelve-year old best the DM, leaned over with an open Dragon magazine and said "here, run this".

I have no idea what he showed that DM (who took a few minutes to read it before smiling evilly), but this 'black knight' suddenly shows up and without a word proceeded to attack us. He killed my friend's character with a lance attack and stunned one of the other players (Hold Person, I think) in the first round. The knight then dismounted to attack me on foot. I turned to the black dragon and pleaded for it to attack the knight. The DM stated that with it being Chaotic Evil, if we couldn't hold our own it wouldn't attack.

"But shouldn't you roll a morale or reaction roll for that?" I asked, "we did subdue it." The DM relented, grabbed the dice to make a morale check (2d6, I think), gave it all kinds of negative modifiers and said basically the only way it would succeed was if it critted (basically a 2, if it was 2d6). I nodded, but no longer liking or trusting this guy, I told him to roll it in the open, where everyone could see it.

The roll came up 2. The black dragon grumbled, but breathed acid on the black knight (who I knew failed the save by seeing the DM roll his eyes after making the knight's save), but it wasn't quite enough to kill him. The black knight then skewered me (completely ignoring the dragon's attack) and then, leaving our dead bodies, left arm-in-arm with the black dragon. After that, we all packed up and started to head home. The veteran guy, who'd been sitting on the DM's side of the table stopped me after the DM had headed out and confided to me, "really, that black dragon killed the knight, by about 5 hit points," he told me, leaving me stunned and furious. I ever after vowed I'd be a better and less vindictive DM than how I felt I was treated at that game.

Later, I didn't get into AD&D until 9th grade - around the time Unearthed Arcana came about - that was when I got the AD&D rules. And it was also that time that I started to get more serious about the rules. I was so disgusted with the order of the rules spread over the PHB, DMG and UA that I rewrote them down in a journal in abbreviated form so I could better compile and understand them (ah, to go back to that age when I had the time to do things like that...). Ever since AD&D, I started becoming more and more of a 'rules lawyer' sort of DM who was very strict about following the rules to the letter, as best I could.

But I think I still have a soft spot for rules-lite games that goes back to my first few years of playing.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I'll make 36 years in the hobby sometime this year. (Maybe I already have.)

My first few years wer D&D only, then a buddy of mine taught me Traveller (yes, my first PC died in PCgen) and Star Fleet Battles. The next RPG was the very first edition of Champions.

I like it on both sides of the screen, and I think I bring a good game. But I think my GMing skills are slipping.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I have been playing for 31 years. We started with D&D moldvay set and then moved on to AD&D. I guess my enduring memory of those early years was the number of rules we ignored. Rules like morale, weapon speeds, racial level restrictions, many aspects of alignment were ignored. We also had a very large number of fighters with 18/76 or so Strength and large numbers of psionic PCs. Good times!
 

N'raac

First Post
Hmmm...10th grade for me, so I guess that makes it 32 years, less a couple of months. We would have started with the Holmes set with B1, drawing chits until those dice showed up (and the local K-Mart laid in a supply of the Holmes box with B2 in it). As AD&D gradually came out, our game gradually transformed into it, although I recall someone getting their hands on the Greyhawk supplement to OD&D, and trying to integrate some of that into Basic.

It seems like we used our imaginations more and the rules/modules/supplements a lot less back then. Not that we had a lot of choice, given the relative scarcity of gaming products, modules, settings, etc. New games aplenty, but support for them? Not so much. Off the cuff, I can remember reading/playing (at least briefly) Boot Hill, Top Secret, Villains & Vigilantes, Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu and Champions (the last two having more staying power with our group) through high school and university.

As time goes on, we have less and less leisure time, so rely more and more on published materials, and mainly in the D&D/Pathfinder or Hero System rules (who has the time to learn a whole new game?) with some recent Heroquest (with some surgery to the rules).

Maybe when I'm retired and have more time to spend...
 
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SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
I'll make 36 years in the hobby sometime this year. (Maybe I already have.)

My first few years wer D&D only, then a buddy of mine taught me Traveller (yes, my first PC died in PCgen) and Star Fleet Battles. The next RPG was the very first edition of Champions.

I like it on both sides of the screen, and I think I bring a good game. But I think my GMing skills are slipping.


D&D, Traveller, and Champions. Ahh the memories.

I first played around 82? but didnt play constantly until I joined the military in 86. So 30ish years.

I also have a proud but dead Traveller character. Nice.

Wish I could get people to play Star Fleet Battles, but I suspect those days will never return.
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
It seems like we used our imaginations more and the rules/modules/supplements a lot less back then. Not that we had a lot of choice, given the relative scarcity of gaming products, modules, settings, etc. New games aplenty, but support for them? Not so much. Off the cuff, I can remember reading/playing (at least briefly) Boot Hill, Top Secret, Villains & Vigilantes, Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu and Champions (the last two having more staying power with our group) through high school and university.

Ahh, I had forgotten about Top Secret.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I've been playing since 1981 so that's 32 years for me. Shortly after playing the Holmes set, we started picking up the AD&D hardcovers. But we also branched out into Traveller, Villains and Vigilantes, Champions, Top Secret, Star Frontiers, and Gamma World.
 

delericho

Legend
I can't remember exactly when I started playing, but I know it was early summer 1993. So sometime during the end of June or beginning of July. That makes it 20 years now since I started playing D&D.

Congratulations! I'm due to hit 25 years myself come this September.
 

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
Well, I may not have played regularly until high school, but I remember playing with (and buying minis for) a friend back when I was 11. So that's about 32 years now. Damn.

Started with the hardcovers. My first character was an unnamed wizard who got to cast Burning Hands at some monsters for 1 hp of damage each before dying.

I just ran across my 1st edition Gamma World book the other day.
 

Troll_Mage

First Post
35 years, started with the box sets, simultaneously dabbling with Avalon Hill and SPI wargames. My D&D experience was partly self-taught and games stories from my classmates (Catholic school) that were in a game in the next county. In the late 70s most of the early RPGers were wargamers that were dabbling with TSR Chainmail and so on. So their games tended to be very gritty and heavy into realism.
When eventually got into a full campaign as a player, it was a very detailed campaign, with many facets of realism applied to monster ecology and the game world.... so you knew where the orcs lived, where the goblin warrens, a dragon live here etc. Adventuring was risky as it would be for a 11th -14th century mercenary, though we rarely encountered diseases that tended to wipe out medieval armies, death came swiftly to monsters and traps, so we tended to roll up many characters during the course of a campaign. Still it was a lot of fun and very immersive. Magic was on the low-end and tended to be more exotic and mysterious, rarely over the top.
My time in the university and active duty USMC tended to be the same, if not more gritty in the gory details of medieval warfare. Dabbled a bit into original Champions, Gamma World, Twilight 2000, DragonQuest, Runequest, and Traveller, but they didn't' compare to a good D&D campaign. I did enjoy a good Top Secret campaign, as the DM ran a long-term cold-war focused campaign. I eventually settled down to my home brew long-term D&D campaign with currently 4 chapters of campaigns that I have run for various groups over the last 15+ years (primarily 3.0-3.5).

Over the last few years have run several short campaigns (6th - 8th level top) Pathfinder and couple of Savage World modern day horror campaigns, and most recently a Goodman Games DCC RPG campaign - which IMO is one of the best retro flavor games out there, much better than Labyrinth Lord, C&C, or Basic FRPG. Probably have forgotten a dozen other games I have played in or run.
 


Warbringer

Explorer
I'd just started secondary school in 79 when a friend of a friend came back from the US with the three hardbacks in tow and I've been hooked ever since .... Though to be honest, fell on quiet times from 1992 to 2000
 

sheadunne

Explorer
Just hit my 30th year ('83) this summer! I started just before we moved to Norway (Army Brat). Talk about hard to find gaming books! Thankfully the base carried them (go military support of the game!) and I was able to start collecting books. We switched between 1e and BEMCI pretty easily in the early years and made up half the rules ourselves. We didn't care. I ended up running most times because no one else wanted to or really had many of the books. I remember my mother at the time arguing with teachers about allowing D&D books in place of traditional books for our reading assignments. It was all I read at the time. Eventually I got into novels, but it took a while. Who wanted to read a book when I could create one through play! I think the second RPG I played was Elf Quest (based off the comic books). I occasionally played other RPGs (Mostly TSR games since it was hard to find other publishers while overseas). It's been a fun and enjoyable hobby that's been the one staple in my life for 30 years, longer than just about anything else. Game Hard!
 

Gwaihir

Explorer
Started in 1981. Played Basic a bit until was introduced to and confused by AD&D. Ive had a couple of hiatuses (Hiatai?) during that time, including the 4 years of college, where I did not play. Played AD&D, Top Secret, Traveller, 2E, 3E and now 3.5. My pre college experience was mostly tactical, and really didnt start emphasing roleplaying until after college.

It has been enjoyable.
 

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