D&D General My Journey with D&D


Not to long after I learned how to read, I discovered that I liked reading. This was the early 80's and I read any book I could get. As a kid I never had much money. But lucky at lots of yard, garage and barn sales, along with flea markets, books were cheep. There were tons of re prints of 'pulp fiction' printed in small "pocket books"(and many were by a company called Pocket Books). A lot of them were sci-fi or fantasy, so I got hooked. I would read the small books quickly, so I always needed more books. One day I found Choose Your Own Adventure books and loved the idea that you got to pick and ending and each book had like three endings. Then there were lots of other choose type books, like The Time Machine and some fantasy "D&D" choose your own adventure books. And in the very back of those books was an add "if you liked this book, try this game(D&D)". So I did.

With some saved money I bought the Basic Set. It was all a bit confusing, but I just muddled through. I introduced D&D to my friends and off we went. Running through all the B modules. And a lot of the D&D stuff at the stores did not fit with our game, and that was odd. It was all the AD&D 1E stuff, of course, but we were just confused. Still I bought and used it, just sticking to more the BECMI rules. And all the Judges Guild stuff, those books were everywhere too.

To make room for Traveler, Star Wars D6 and Marvel Super Heroes.

After figuring out it was another D&D game, I got into this. There sure were more players to pick from too. Dragonlance is a couple years old at this point, but new to me. And they had D&D novels! I play through the "Dragons Of" modules a bunch. I jump right into the Forgotten Realms as soon as it was released.

In high school and 2E helps gaming explode. A lot of new players are attracted by the 'new' fancy rules. I run games for a lot of different types of people. A bunch of jocks have me run a game at a closed Taco Bell and a group of cheerleaders have me run a game for them.

High school ends, and everyone scatters. My long time friends each move on to something, as do I, and there is not much time for any games in the next couple years. Though by the end of the millennium we are all more or less back in our home area. Now all working adults, waiting to see if the world was going to end of Y2K.

D&D 3E
The world did not end, but a new edition of D&D came out. We dove right back in. With game stores in malls, and WotC short lived The Keep store, malls became a hot place to play RPGs....and card games. 3E brought in a bunch of new players.
Was a bit of a bump, but we gamed on. RPGs where everywhere, with D&D leading the way. Malls, game stores, libraries, and more were full of games. It was amazing.

Then it just all fell apart. Suddenly there were less gamers. Less hype. Less everything. Game stores closed, Borders was gone, and even many malls died.

D&D 4E
This game was not made for me. I continued on with a couple of 3.5E games, including my age old childhood friends.

D&D 5E
My old group stayed with 3.5E. I was slow to pick up yet another "new" D&D. But with most people only playing 5E I came around to running a few games. As part time game organizer at my rec I brought a lot of new people to the game. Using 5E as it is so 'easy'.

And today, running a couple games a week...3.5E and 5E. Just waiting fr what "not 6E" will be.....

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Laws of Mordenkainen, Elminster, & Fistandantilus
I love this idea for a thread and I have enjoyed reading the journeys from those who have shared. Thanks, G Ban 007 for getting the ball rolling.

1980: My first experiences with D&D were actually live-action. I was six and the neighbor across the street who had the AD&D books as well as bookshelves filled with Tolkien and other great gateways to other worlds took me on live-action adventures in his yard. A garbage can lid was a shield, a broom handle my sword, the in-ground swimming pool was a pit of acid into which I maneuvered a troll after luring it out of its lair. It was a hoot.

For Christmas of 1981, my sister got the Moldvay Basic set and the AD&D Player's Handbook. I played a character in a D&D game that a girl down the street three years older than me would DM or that my sister would run.

Then around 1985 or so I started playing in some AD&D games with classmates. In 1987, I met my long-term friend Wes who was also three years older than me (and who would die of H1N1 in 2009). He DMed and I played the son of my first character -- a paladin -- in Wes's campaign.

In 1988 I GMed for the first time: Marvel Super Heroes by TSR. My friends -- especially Wes who was stuck always being the DM -- loved playing in it.

1989: So, I went from GMing Marvel Super Heroes to DMing AD&D 2nd edition. I was hot on 2nd edition, which had just come out. I had been reading all of the promotional material on it as it was being developed. I had picked up the 1987 grey-box Forgotten Realms box set and decided to save myself some time in world-building by setting my first campaign in the Realms. This campaign was a great success. Our dear friend Josh, who played Minya Mardin, died when he was 17 of Hodgkin's disease. I was one of his pall bearers. The campaign continued and Wes's character became a demigod in it. Josh's character went missing and no one ever found out what happened to him. The face of my version of the Realms changed to where it would be unrecognizable to anyone familiar with the Realms. Wes played the daughter of his previous character. We picked up a few more players. Wes and I would dream up all kinds of new spells. I built-up a thick binder of all of my homebrew rules and spells.

I attended Gen Con in 1992, '93, and '97 (after hitchhiking across the country and arriving without a badge...but I found one at the entrance, picked it up and went in and found Wes and another friend and hung out with them and then got a ride hundreds of miles home a few days later). At Gen Con in 1993 I met Gary Gyax...we spoke about a number of things, including his view that fantasy had never been adapted to the silver screen. As a fan of Excalibur, I didn't understand...but later I would (see below). I would also meet Dave Arneson. Unlike my time with Gygax, we didn't talk for very long.

1996: I began playing live-action games, including a well-run and played Vampire LARP in Manhattan, where I was living at the time. We met at different locations in the city, including the Winter Garden at the base of the World Trade Center, which would be destroyed five years later.

When 3rd edition and 3.5 were released, I read them but mostly sat them out.

2007: I began to anticipate the release of 4th edition after reading a promotional book about its development that emphasized the new cosmology. I was taken with the addition of the Shadowfell and Feywild, which I realize were in 3rd edition, but which I first learned about at this time. My campaign world had basically became a Shadowfell version of the Realms, so it resonated with me.

2008: I was hyped up about 4th edition and joined a game. I introduced it to my wife and we played with the group I found and, after a number of sessions, I became fatigued with how long combat would take and how weak the narrative and role-playing opportunities were with that particular group.

2014: I skipped participating in the D&D Next playtest, but kept abreast of it. I was more than skeptical that the design team could achieve their stated goals. It seemed about as unlikely as making a successful film version of The Lord of the Rings. But just as I walked out of the theater after seeing The Fellowship of the Ring and finally understood what Gygax meant about how (until that moment) fantasy had never been translated to the screen, when I picked up the new Player's Handbook on the day it first appeared on shelves, I took to it right away. The seeming impossible goal of uniting fans of all editions had been achieved.

So much did I like its design, that I began DMing again: I DMed my daughter (who in a twist of fate, was born on what would have been Wes's 39th birthday on his first birthday after he died) in a continuation of my Realms campaign. I DMed a world mostly filled with gnomes and halflings. I DMed a world where most NPCs were inspired by rock stars and the great villains were Beatles-inspired and had a yellow submarine as an Astral plane-spanning artifact. Now I am DMing a Elizabethan England campaign where magic derives from the Feywild, which can be accessed on certain full moon nights at certain portals where ley lines intersect. My players are two families of parents and children (seven players) who were introduced to D&D by me.

2024: I have been keeping abreast of the development of the new core books and I am excited...mostly that the design team gets to tweak the things it wants to after a decade of play, but that they are keeping the engine under the hood the same so that we don't need to purchase new "editions" of the various adventures and campaign settings released in 5th edition. My overall sense is that the game is in good hands and it is a fun activity for me to share with my daughter and some friends.
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New Year's 80/81: My first exposure to D&D by an old friend that I hadn't seen in years. It was B1. I was 12.

1e: Most of the 80's were just spent Theorycrafting, as I couldn't find a group to join. Read the living <beep> out of the 1e and Basic/Expert rules. Picked up most of the modules. Collected Dragon magazines. Played in a campagin or two. In college I got to GM my first campaign - which imploded because I mishandled a Heat Metal cast at my anti-paladin BBEG. First lesson learned: Don't Panic.

2e/the 90's: The early 90's were my slacker period. I fell in with a bunch of gamers, ended up sharing an apartment with them, and played pretty much daily. Fun times. Then Drama happened, and I ended up moving away to start my professional career. I then started running a campaign with a co-worker and his wife as the core players and had a few other players wander in and out. That 2e campaign is still remembered fondly.

3e/the 2000's: Started watching the pre-launch news here back during Eric Noah's days. Mid-May 2003 I launch my 1st 3e campaign, set in the same world as my 2e campaign. Searched out players through a LFG mailing list (that's no longer active). That group has been running (in Thesus's ship fashion) ever since then. The 1st campaign takes the caharacters from 2nd to 28th), and runs for 5 years. Take a little break, then run my 2nd 3.x campaign - a non-PHB, psionics only campaign in a different world. This ran for 3-4 years. (I miss the 3.x warlock, even if it did have a problem with AoE, it was a GREAT blaster mage. I also really liked how the 3.5 Psionics worked, especially once augmented with 3PP expansions.)

4e/the Teen's: The group ran the 4e playtest, and then a sample of the 4e variant of B2 (Keep on the Shadowfells?), and immediately decided it wasn't for us. One of the other players ran a 3.x Kitchen-sink Temple of Elemental Evil campaign (3.x artificers rock. But I'll probably never need to run a crafter mage again. And the ToB martials stood up well in the same company.) This again ran Epic (level 25 or so?). While I was playing there, I was also GMing in other systems - particularly Wild Talents. As well as other one-shot games.

5e/Late Teens: Picked up 5e pretty much as soon as it came out, and actually pulled in some new blood to the hobby (yay!). Ran a very vanilla 5e game - Tyranny of Dragons all the way through, plus an Epic add-on where the players advanced into the First Hell/Avernus to Kill Tiamat. But I was pretty much constantly frustrated by the Spell Rules - concentration, lack of buffs, spell delays, etc. I also really miss the 3.x monster templates. Contrasting this, the Legendary and Lair actions are GREAT concepts.

So now I'm running PF2e, which if I was been derisive about it, I'd describe as "What 4e should have been". About half-way between 3.x and 5e in complexity. VERY solid mechanical choices though all twenty levels. Classes that feel uniquely distinct from each other, and with large variance in their in-class options. ... I LIKE PF2e.


Lost in Dark Sun
Was introduced to tabletop roleplaying games about eleven years ago with Pathfinder 1e. Hated absolutely everything about the system, but since playing fantasy games was literally the only thing me and my dad had a common interest in at the time (and the group of players were fun to hang out with), I stuck with it.

Then 5e came along in and our group switched over to that. My dad loved it because it reminded him of AD&D 1e (which was his introduction to TTRPGs), my old DM loved it because it “didn’t try to quantify life”, while I loved it because the system was just so much simpler and more enjoyable for me than Pathfinder.

That first group has since broken up, but we still keep in contact. Everyone from that group is still playing 5e, and all but one has been DMing since 2019


I started with 3.5 myself and have dabbled a bit in 5th edition, but it's always interesting to hear about people's experiences with older editions. It seems like each edition has its own unique charm and drawbacks, and it's cool to see how your preferences and playstyle evolved over time. Do you have a favorite edition that you always find yourself coming back to, or do you enjoy exploring different systems regularly?


First introduction to D&D was with 3.5 in spring of 2004. I was already playing VtM at the time and HS buddy asked me to join their D&D game. He sold it like " It's like power metal version of role playing". Being the fan of power metal, said yes. Also, other guys in group were cool dudes.

When 4e came out, i had another group, we tried it, but it just didn't suit our style of play. So we went back to 3.5 than to PF1. We got bored with PF1, so one of the guys proposed that we start new game with 2ed ad&d. We played 2ed for almost 2 years and then, D&D next playtest came around. So we switched first to Next, then to 5e and here we are, decade later, still playing 5e.


I played and GMed B/X.

Then GMed AD&D, and GMing the original OA is where I started to learn how to GM in my preferred style.

For 19 years (1990-2008) I GMed mostly Rolemaster, but GMed a bit of and played a bit more of AD&D 2nd ed.

I GMed only a few sessions of 3E.

From 2009, I GMed a lot of and played a bit of 4e. I've also GMed a few sessions of AD&D and B/X.

In the past 6 or 7 years my fantasy RPGing has been mostly Burning Wheel, Prince Valiant, and Torchbearer 2e.

Basic D&D - Didn't get to play a lot, as relying on a library book, and convincing some friends to play as well, and it was mainly dungeon crawling which we enjoyed running our newly created characters through, and otherwise me having fun doing up maps in our old maths workbooks and imagining what monsters would go where, depending on the dungeon level (1st level of dungeon has this, 2nd level that etc) - but was fun thought excercise.

For me as well, being able to find D&D materials in a library was a huge part of my introduction to the hobby (that and Endless Quest books and a metalhead kid that ran the first D&D game I ever played). I would read Dragon magazine issues in the library, making photocopies of stuff I found interesting. The rules didn't yet make sense; and even after I picked up the Basic set, parts of AD&D remained arcane.


Reeks of Jedi
Fun stories.


Watched the D&D cartoon as a kid. Never thought about it beyond that.

2nd Ed: Tail end of it. Read some Drizzt and Dragonlance. Played some EQ. Decided to give D&D a shot. Local gaming story had a group that met once a week so I went to watch. Clogged the toilet. They still invited me back. First ever character was a Human Fighter duel wielding swords. He wanted to find and marry a mermaid (he was a fisherman by trade). He died in the opening round vs a Death Knight via Power Word Kill.

By the by, traded my MtG collection for the 3 core books. YES I regret that. Ugh those cards are worth so much now...

3rd Ed: This is when I hit it like a drug addict on crack. Spent way to much money and started DMing (and never quit). First character was a Human Barbarian. DM had us start after a shipwreck on a beach scavenging for supplies which became my favorite way to start a campaign. Looking back now, the whole system was bloated and far to Min/Max able and I have PTSD just looking at a Pathfinder 1E book. I'd play it agan but I'd never want to run it,

4th Ed. Bounced off pretty quick. If I wanted to play WoW I'd play WoW. (I was playing WoW at the time btw).

5th Ed. D&D is trying to bring us fans back! And it worked for a long time but the more I DMed it the less I liked it. I know some disagree, but this is D&D Superheroes. It's still overly complicated and some of that is baked in. I go play just core 2E or Basic and with a shaving of some oddities and have a better time... Plan to pick up the Core 5.5 and might even run an adventure. We'll see.


1st Ed. Finally picked up 1E and thanks to OSRIC ran it after "Separating the Wheat from the Chaff" and it was great. Ran awesome. Like I said with 2E trim some unneeded stuff and it flies. Yeah the saves are kind of odd but you get used to it.

B/X BECMI. Currently running a B/X game and yeah its great. D&D boiled down to simplicity. Sure it has that old school oddness like the Saves but you figure it out. Some OSR systems even change the AC to ascending and use a more modern version of calculating attacks in combat.

Speaking of OSR, Shadowdark is almost perfect for me aside from the XP aspect of it. I love running prewritten adventures but converting can be a chore. I wonder if I can just use B/X's leveling system or 3rd eds. Hhmm . But if I made homebrew dungeon stuff I'd use this.
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