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It's D&D's 40th anniversary. Tell me your D&D history, and what it means to you!


Well, that was fun
Staff member
Tomorrow, January 26th, is researcher Jon Peterson's best-guess for the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. "For all the reasons listed above, it's probably impossible to narrow in on one date and say with any certainty that this is when the game was released. But if we need to celebrate somewhere in the neighborhood of late January, then the last Sunday of the month (this year, the 26th) seems like the best candidate. As the El Conquistador advertisement above notes, Sunday was the day when Gary invited the world to drop by his house, at 1:30 PM, to have a first experience of Dungeons & Dragons. Since it's a weekend, many of us can clear our schedules to revisit some classic tabletop. So this coming January 26th, 2014, do take the time to celebrate the birth of Dungeons & Dragons and role-playing games."

I started playing D&D nearly 30 years ago. I was about 12 years old, and played the B of BECMI at lunchtime with my friends at school. One day somebody turned up with some hardcover books called "Advanced" Dungeons & Dragons, which we promptly switched to. The following years were filled with avid consumption of Weis & Hickman's Dragonlance Chronicles (and later, the Legends). I had a bit of a break round about the time I went off to university, but soon fell in with a new gaming crowd and AD&D 2nd Edition. I remember one rules dispute which had me look up the phone number of TSR UK to ask them a question - it was about a lion's claw attacks and offhand weapons or somesuch. A nice lady took my phone number, saying everyone was at lunch. Half an hour later, my phone rang and a chap from TSR UK (I wish I knew his name) called to help us with the rules.

In 1999-ish I stumbled across a website called Eric Noah's Unofficial D&D 3rd Edition News. It transpired that a new edition of D&D was in the works, and I devoured every snippet of information coming from a remarkably candid development team at WotC. Since then I've played 3E, 3.5, 4E, and Pathfinder; and later this year we'll see the advent of D&D Next (or whatever name they go with).

D&D has been an enormous part of my life for nearly 30 years, and I suspect it will be for many years to come.

Plenty of news organizations have mentioned this occasion, including the Guardian and USA Today. This year, Community (the TV show) will have a D&D 40th-anniversary episode.

Happy birthday, Dungeons & Dragons!

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Slumbering in Tsar
For me, D&D (now Pathfinder) has always been my creative outlet.

I started with the basic set then quickly moved to AD&D as well. I devoured the 1E Player's Handbook, DMG, and Monster Manual and have been smitten since. I still remember the sheer joy I felt when walking into Waldenbooks and seeing the 1E Monster Manual 2 when it first came out. I read that thing form cover to cover immediately.

As a 10-14 year old kid at the time, the game really expanded my vocabulary and introduced me to the whole fantasy genre (thanks, Appendix N!). I appreciated that the game was not written for children.

I quickly moved to 2E when it came out, but hated the loss of demons & devils (what the heck is a tanar'ri?). Unfortunately, my gaming group dissolved near the end of 2E because the rules became so imbalanced that it stopped being fun for some. I was hesitant about 3E at first, but since they kept the fluff (for the most part), I was very jazzed up when it released and loved it immediately. I liked the changes in 3.5, but was unhappy that it (along with Osseum's implosion) killed one of the main d20 companies I admired: Bastion Press.

Never tried 4E as the timing, marketing, and changes were all big turn-offs for me (and, most importantly, I was *happy* with 3.5).

So now it's Pathfinder, which I think they've done a super job with.

I don't need Next, so the only way I see me getting any further D&D product is if it's usable with Pathfinder (such as an adventure).

Still, I love what D&D was to me as a 10-38 year old. :)
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First Post
in 1995 I had made friends at my new highschool with a family of 5 brothers, they had gotten me to a reinfair that year, and a LARP, and we played RIFTs once...

right before Christmas I was at a book store and found a beginner box set of D&D and bought it. One of our friends had played 1e long before with his uncle and walked me through setting up a game.

Christmas holiday we started. I bought folders for each player, and put a green character sheet a few sheets of lined paper, a few index cards and a sheet of graph paper in each.

We started with a Human Ranger (anikin) an Elven wizard (Dalimar) a Human Bard (Mcbride) an albino elven fighter/theif (Shadar Doom) and a human cleric (Benard). Three or four games in another friend joined as half elf Cleric/WIzard

The friends I made have stayed with me all the way through the years...

I think I should call them today... but not to game half of them play pathfinder, and I will never do that again.

I am looking forward to NEXT, and can hardl wait to read the new PHB just like that starter one almost 20 years ago


First Post
I was 8 years old, and Bobby down the street liked me. My mom thought it was so cute I had a 'boyfriend'. (Years later she didn't think at 15 it was cute I had one though) Bobby and I were at his house watching an old VHS of King Kong when he told me about this game his dad played.

When his dad got home that night we begged him to let me play. My first character was a half elf Fighter named ‘Lady Knightstar’ She died only a few hours into my second game. I was heartbroken, but itwas my own fault I charged a group of bugbears…

Bobby was my first boyfriend, my first kiss, my first timeskinny dipping… but I will always remember him as the guy who taought me toplay the game I have played for 18 years now…wow I feel old

D&D to this day is my favorite pass time.

Thank you Gary and Dave, thank you Morrus

Tommorrow I will be playing Myth and magic a 2e retro clone


My first character was a half elf Fighter named ‘Lady Knightstar’ She died only a few hours into my second game. I was heartbroken, but itwas my own fault I charged a group of bugbears…

But did you scream, "No, Not Lady Knightstar! NO, NO! I'M GOING TO DIE!"

If not, you couldn't have cared enough about the role-playing... ;)

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What D&D means to me

I started role-playing back in high school in the early 1980s with the boxed sets and "BECMI" edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I've been running my homebrew "Vanished Lands" campaign setting for about 30 years now, with hundreds of Player Characters and dozens of role-players over the years.

Through gaming, I met lifelong friends in college in Upstate New York. In freshman year, I even got my entire floor in the dorm to try gaming. Through those AD&D circles, I met the woman who became my wife.

When I had the good fortune to teach for a year in New York City, most of my students participated in my AD&D2 games, including some who later got married themselves. D&D has given my friends a common interest and language.

In the 1990s near Washington, D.C., and in the 2000s around Boston, D&D3.x and other tabletop RPGs helped me build new circles of friends. I've never had difficulty recruiting players, with groups as large as more than a dozen people at a time.

EnWorld has helped me stay in touch with the larger community and follow trends in our hobby. I'm currently running two adventuring parties using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, a D20 retro-clone, but I hope that D&D "Next" is successful. Long live RPGs!

In 1979, at National Wildlife Federation summer camp in North Carolina, a kid in my cabin had the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook and, at a picnic table outside one afternoon, helped several of us create a group (I'm pretty sure I was a half-elf ranger, since I made several more of them over the next few years) and ran us through the "adventure" on the cover of the book. I was the only one to avoid being slaughtered by the lizardmen in their temple, although the adventure ended with me hiding around a corridor, trying to figure out how I was going to escape.

My family moved after camp that summer (my parents needed us out of the house to pack everything up without us being underfoot) and in our new town, we found an experienced middle school DM and a family of kids up for playing. We played AD&D (with Basic and Expert modules as well), Villains & Vigilantes, experimented with Runequest and Traveller and even Toon.

My brother and I played two-person games once we moved again, and I mostly drifted away from it until after college. I started an online game via Java chat window embedded on my home page with some friends, playing 2E D&D (and using stuff from the 2E Diablo adaptation, probably making me the only person to have used that stuff) online for a few months, until we heard about a new edition coming, which I followed closely on Eric Noah's site.

Another group wanted to start playing D&D with the third edition, but this time, we were wanting to use this new Ptolus book I'd preordered. But we started a warm-up campaign at the other end of the empire, before the book came out, intending to shut it down and switch over to Ptolus once I had the book in my hot little hands. Eight years later, that campaign is just wrapping up now. The next campaign will be set in Ptolus, although it'll likely be run in Castles & Crusades, which brings back the 1E flavor I started off with and many of the D20 improvements under the hood.


Started in 1993 after playing Eye of the Beholder and reading the 1st ed MM, FF, UA, OA and DMG. We had no PHB and eventually started using a very old Red Box and some modules. 1st campaign I played in was BECMI as one of the guys bought the RC. Switched to 2nd ed in 1995 and 3rd ed in 2000. Went back to 2nd ed and retroclones end of 2012.

D&D as a brand name is basically dead to me though. Not that interested in D&DN for me and the local RPG club seems to have rejected it already so no other DMs will be using it that I know of.


Thank you for the call out on the anniversary! As with you I started about age 12 but I'm older so it has been closer to 37 years that I've been playing.

My first exposure to it was at West Point, where my father taught math. A friend invited me to try it out. We played in a musty basement of one of the old officer's quarters houses with my friend and 4-5 cadets. I was rather nervous in their presence and the game was a mystery, since I did not know any of the rules. I still remember the character: a dwarf fighter with 2 hit points and can still remember the cadet-referee describing us walking down a wooden passage covered with hay. One of us fell through a hole. There was much more to it b ut that's all I remember after all the years.

Regardless, I was hooked at the time. I already played a lot of wargames (this was the golden age of hex war games) so I was no stranger to games but this game was very different, with its figures, open ended play, game master, even little oddities like using the Outdoor Survival map (in the very early days).

For the next 30 days I played continuously, daily when younger, moving to weekends in college and post college gradually becoming less frequent. These days, sadly, we only play every few months but I'm starting to look for a more frequent gaming group.

I've played all the editions, from the original 3 book game, then with the original supplements, through 4E although I have since moved to Pathfinder but am not sure I will try D&D next, at least not without finding a group that is playing it. These days, I do a lot more table top gaming than RPGs, although that's more a matter of path of least resistance.

Cheers to D&D!


First Post
What D&D means to me

My first game of D&D took place over 30 years ago in an empty classroom at the Bronx High School of Science. A kid I met in my sophomore year told me about this older student that ran this game called Dungeons and Dragons occasionally when they could find an empty classroom away from the faculty. It was a wonderful combination of sneaking around, rebellion and the reward of being able to play a game all at a school that was pretty intensive academically and very competitive.

While I sort of lost track of our Original Dungeon Master, I still keep in touch (sort of) with the guy that brought me to my first game. Thanks Peter, thanks to Gary Gygax and to all the people that help create a world that I still visit today. I have played many characters but the Paladins have always been my favorites.

Mr. Gygax, R.I.P. Sir.


I may call myself "gurps gm", but...


I started with the "White Box" in about 1975, and quickly added the "little brown books".

By the end of about 1976, I had the whole nine yards of Original D&D and was playing it with area teens. I quickly developed a snail-mail relationship with Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, to mention a few.

In late 1976, I became a long-time Judges Guild Judge (Game Master). I bought almost every D&D related project they ever made, except, for some reason, the "Inferno" book. Although I continued my relationship with Judges Guild to the bitter (original) end, I also started working with AD&D 2nd edition.

I continued to buy TSR material through 3rd edition, and 3.5. But I bought very little of 4th edition, having switched over mostly to Pathfinder.

I also play =many= other RPG's - Sci-Fi (especially "Star Trek"), Fantasy (I got into Runequest and Earthdawn in a big way), Horror (mostly "Call of Cthulhu"), Modern (mostly a blend of "Spycraft", "Shadowforce Archer, and Stargate"), Victorian (a lot of "Space 1889"), and boatloads more.

I now play almost everything, but a LOT of GURPS - and 3.5 and Pathfinder.

I also play board wargames such as "Squad Leader" and "Panzer Blitz", miniatures games (I like "Kings of War" right now), card games (I have done "Magic", but I like "Warlord" and "World of Warcraft" better). And I also do regular board games such as "Settlers" and "Carcassonne".

That's about (plus or minus) 39 years of gaming. I will celebrate my 40th anniversary of gaming in 2015. I've never seen anything that involved my creative juices better than a good RPG. I enjoy working with both the "old-school" gamers and the new blood. I've done volunteer work for a couple companies and participated in tournaments. Ask me about the time I did a demo of "GURPS: Imperial Rome" in a church...

Ian Danton

D&D History

My first experience of D&D was watching a group of friends playing after school and thinking it looked like fun. One of them lent me a copy of the First Edition Players Handbook which I then read that evening, and if I am honest was completely bamboozled by. I knew however that I wanted to play myself and have never lost that desire (much to my parents initial chagrin). That was in 1982. I still get the thrill of excitement from picking up the Player's Handbook, even though I understand it (a little) more now......

“It is the year 2005…”

Except it was actually 1986 and I was sitting in a movie theater, hearing those words from Transformers: The Movie. I was staying with my mother for the summer and she had the Dragonlance Chronicles , which I devoured hungrily.

A few years later, my older step-brother from my father’s new relationship showed me the Red Box. I remembered seeing an ad for this game in the Dragonlance books and remembered watching the D&D cartoon sometimes while waiting for Transformers (I’m still a Trans-fanatic after all this time).
My first character was “The” fighter in the Red Box, in a homebrew campaign that included the Isle of Dread, run by my step-brother. I quickly decided to DM and put together a group of middle school friends. We quickly moved on to 2nd Edition when that came out (I skipped 1st Edition entirely, except for the Monster Manual and Monster Manual II which were just awesome to read through, even though I didn’t understand the stats).

When I joined the Air Force in ’94, my time with D&D diminished as World of Darkness and Palladium took over my gaming time and the group I ended up with. I managed to squeeze in a few more 2nd Edition campaigns, though, before D&D and my life took a sudden left turn. I’ll spare you the personal details, but suffice to say that 3rd Edition was a big change to the game as big changes were happening in my life and I found a great deal of comfort and refuge in D&D at that time. I joined the Navy and finally managed to run a campaign from 1st to beyond 20th, using the loose adventure path-ish series of The Sunless Citadel through Bastion of Broken Souls. 3.5 came out just as I was leaving the Navy.

I didn’t discover EN World until 2004 and mostly lurked until 2007 when I started doing play-by-post. 4th Edition came along as my involvement in the online community (via Gleemax and EN World) was at its height. I ended up taking a break from 4E and being online for a bit and took up with Pathfinder and tried a few other games. D&D Next has brought me back into the fold and I am quite eager to see what the final version looks like.
D&D has been a refuge and safe haven for much of my life. Many of us are familiar with the trope of the outcast kid, always bullied, never fitting in – well, that was me and D&D kept me mostly sane.
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Great thread!

I started playing back in 1980 with the softback AD&D Player's Handbook and Monster Manual and a bright yellow cardboard DM's screen made by Judges' Guild for OD&D. I didn't have a DMG until my 13th birthday that summer - we used photocopied combat tables stuck to a piece of card - and I remember making a spinner because I didn't have a d12. My friends and I played through most of the classic modules during our time at school – GDQ, S1-4, the A series, Ravenloft, Dragonlance and Oriental Adventures.

I taught my girlfriend (now my wife) to play at university in 1987, luring her into the game by getting her interested in painting miniatures. We played a one-to-one game set in the Forgotten Realms for many years together using the Old Grey Box. It was a fun way to spend time in the years we didn't have any money. We saved up for the 2e DMG by putting 1p, 2p & 5p pieces in a jar until we had enough. Back in 1992 I was thrilled to have an adventure published in Dungeon magazine.

When 3e came out in 2000, I asked my old school-friends if they fancied playing D&D again. They did and we've been playing every month ever since, moving on to 3.5, then starting a new campaign with 4e set in Parsantium, the city setting I'm about to publish. It's been a great way to make sure we all get together and have fun on a regular basis.

Although I've played many other RPGs, I keep coming back to D&D. This year my wife and I are going to GenCon to celebrate 40 wonderful years. I can't wait!


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I first started playing AD&D back in '79 or so, during an afternoon when my best friend, David, and I decided to check out a "gaming group" holding session in one of the classrooms after school. The group was running AD&D and the DM informed us that his dad had just purchased these new books for him, so he wanted to start a campaign. David and I hopped in and rolled up characters--he ran a human ranger and I ran a trusty, ax-wielding dwarf fighter named Borak. The games in those days were Monty-Haulish to the Nth degree and by the time Borak was retired he was somewhere in the neighborhood of a 99th level fighter/63rd level Thief/something-level cleric.

Yeah, I know, you're probably rolling your eyes, but we had fun.

I dropped from that group over the summer and later, in high school, joined another group playing AD&D (much more conservatively and closer to RAW)--the core of which I gamed with up until my "retirement" from RP-ing last year, though I have been gaming some with my kids. I've played all editions of D&D, even tried out the first couple of rules sets for D&D Next (though I really didn't care for them), and while I've found other systems better at some things, D&D is still, I think, one of the easiest to introduce new players to . . . if you limit things to the Player's Handbook. And it's the game that got me hooked on role-playing in the first place.

Happy Birthday, D&D.

Happy Birthday! Break out the silly hats and crackers!

I got started in D&D via a friend about 1981, with the Moldvay BD&D pink box -- I had gotten into fantasy via Tolkien's books about two years prior after becoming a huge Star Wars fan. Moved into Cook Expert from there and then AD&D, switching between the variants seamlessly, along side playing a large number of tabletop wargames. I got out of tabletop for a while when I went off to college about the time 2E rolled out, though I kept playing the video games -- Gold Box and Eye of the Beholder -- and toted my D&D collection around everywhere, though eventually marriage and career intervened.

In 2000 my wife and I were at a computer game store and I was looking at a box for a game called "Baldur's Gate" when my wife said "Remember when you played those in college? You should do that again." Buying the game box, I discovered inside a flyer for the "New 3rd Edition of D&D", and shortly thereafter found Eric Noah's site and joined the DND-L mailing list ... which convinced me to pick the just-released 3E rulebooks up. I've been hanging around here in various incarnations ever since, though my tabletop play time has declined pretty significantly since I returned from overseas at the end of 2009 -- career getting in the way again.

D&D remains a fun escape and a way to exercise my brain as well as meet a lot of neat people, but its long-term influence on me goes much farther than that. I think I owe J.R.R.Tolkien and Gary Gygax a debt of gratitude -- it if weren't for them, I would not read as much as I do, wouldn't have developed the vocabulary I have, and wouldn't have developed the interest in math that I have, all of which led to better education, career, and opportunities than might have occurred otherwise.

Oh, yeah, and I didn't spend all those years playing D&D and not learn a little bit about courage.


First Post
It was 1999. A college friend invited me and I reluctantly accepted out of peer pressure. I didn't want to go, because D&D was this creepy satanic thing where kids killed themselves in steam tunnels. It probably had something to do with Wicca or whatever.

The guy helping me make my character (an RPGA judge playtesting "Third Edition", he tells me; had no clue what that meant) suggested an elven Ftr-Mu. The DM said I had to make a level 1 character, even though the party included a level 20/20 cleric/psion. I had no idea what any of this meant. Whatever. Scary nerd people doing and saying scary nerd things. And probably satanic.

I rolled my stats in order, 3d6. First roll, 18. Weird (but surprisingly amiable) Judge of Satan's Game freaks out. "Roll a percentile!" he says. "Do wha?" He hands me a couple more occult dice, and I roll them. One says "0" and the other says "00". The whole room freaks the heck out. Whatever. I write 18/00 on my sheet as instructed.

Throughout the session, I died three times. The third time I ejected from a volcano and hurtled halfway across a continent (???) and was dying in a tree. The fellow who invited me, playing a necromancer, pokes my dying body with a stick until my spellbook fell out.

The game ended with me trapped in a queens throne room while the rest of the party battle griffon riders on the castle wall (as in, they are walking on the wall; how cool is THAT?). I just killed the archmage with a lucky critical hit. The queen stares me down, the guards are moving in, I got ONE chance!

And, the session's over. What? NO! We can't end here!

I spent the rest of the week obsessing with what my character does next. Do I have a verbal battle of wits with the evil queen? Do I grab the table runner cloth, tie it to a table leg and leap out the window? Do I fight the guards and capture the queen?

Anyhow, I never made it to the next week. My mom had something to do and couldn't drive me to the game. It would be two more years before I picked up my own copy of 3E, brought it to bible study, and let my friends in on the adventure.

Dungeons & Dragons and I were almost fated to be, given how I kept bumping into related things.
Growing up a child of the '80s, I loved the cartoon. In the '90s I read comic books that had advertisements for D&D starter games (never available anywhere near me) and campaign settings, including a Ravenloft ad I remember fascinating me.

Here's a couple of the ads, scanned from the backs of my comics:
001.jpg 003.jpg 002.jpg

For my 12th birthday (1991) I received the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy. In the back of the first book were some notes on how the novel had its start in the game, with Raistlin's character inspired by the player who brought him to life and scenes in the book (Tas in the Wicker Dragon) coming from playtest sessions. (Which basically meant the first Dragonlance books were fanfic.)
The idea of a game where you could play characters and improv situations like climbing into a wicker dragon fascinated me. But I had no idea how that would work.

During a sleepover a year or so later, a friend improved a game for me, using number guessing in place of die rolls. It was amazing fun and I finally realized how the game worked. I continued to devour Dragonlance books and even started reading Dragon magazine (which my school library had a subscription to). I still had no idea how to play or where to get the books until I stumbled across someone reading the books and asked, and he directed me to a local comic/games store. I slowly saved the money to buy the books over the course of many months, slowly getting the three core books over the course of my birthday and Christmas. This would have been 1993.

I met most of my friends in Jr. High and High School because of D&D. I might not have had any friends had I not recognised books and started talking to them.
After University, in 2005, I lost half my friends as they were "school friends" and the other half moved elsewhere in the country. I turned to D&D to meet to new people, getting involved in Living Greyhawk. When 4e was announced and LG died, we started a homegame, which I'm running to this day. There's been a few changes and some turn over but it's a fairly solid group. The one newcomer I met via D&D Encounters and has become a really good friend at or away from the table.

D&D used to be one of my hobbies. I've always had addictive hobbies. In the early '90s I collected comic trading card. I still have most of them, tucked away in boxes somewhere. I think. Then it became comic books, and I identified as a comic geek for much of my life. I learned to read in part because of comics books and as I type this in my office, I have several thousand comics in boxes behind me. Then, late in jr. high I started buying D&D. But I still spent most of my money on comics and only bought the occasional D&D product. I didn't really start spending until I got my first job and started buying used Ravenloft products in a comic/games/curio shop (My favourite setting.)
D&D slowly moved from an occasional hobby to a major part of my life during late 3e when I started playing LG. It got me out of the house and interacting with people. I bought more and more books to use them at the table. And, slowly, over the last four or five years, gaming has become my main hobby as I've bought fewer and fewer comic books (after growing disenfranchised with Marvel and DC).

D&D and gaming is how I met almost all of my friends. It's my main hobby that I spend money on. It's one of my main methods of social interaction outside of work and family. It helps me relax and keeps me sane in a world of stress and work. As I do a gaming webcomic and blog, even when I'm not gaming it's how I recreate.
And having dropped comic books, most console gaming, trading cards... it's the only hobby I have left.


I've always had addictive hobbies.

I agree... It all started in 1991, when after playing a gold box Mac game I entered an hobby shop in Milan called Unicorn (I guess) and bought the D&D black box. Before that fantasy had been Fighting Fantasy books and Shannara and the Lord of the Rings... After that it became Dragonlance and Faerun and Dark Sun...
I of course had to DM, so I quickly moved my friends first to the Rules Cyclopedia, than to AD&D.
years later we switched to 3.0, I developed my original setting (Alfeimur, which is currently available on RPGNow) and...
Well, to sum it up we still play regular weekly games using 4e (with lots of house rules) and we still enjoy the hobby, despite jobs, careers and other addictive hobbies.
Thanks D&D, you turned escapism into a fine art!


First Post
But did you scream, "No, Not Lady Knightstar! NO, NO! I'M GOING TO DIE!"

If not, you couldn't have cared enough about the role-playing... ;)

View attachment 60373

No, I was too busy drawing up my Dwarven Fighter/Thief Diamond to notice. I was going to totally bethe toughest knife fighter ever…
Although I have seen it before chixtack never stop making me face palm thinking Do people really think this?

Halloween Horror For 5E