D&D General Was your first experience with D&D as a player or as a DM?

Was your first experience with D&D as a player or DM?

  • As a player with an experienced DM

    Votes: 54 42.9%
  • A a player with a first time DM

    Votes: 38 30.2%
  • As a DM

    Votes: 34 27.0%


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JEB

Legend
Self-taught from the AD&D 2E rules. The first game I ran for my friend and little brother used the sample adventure site in the 1981 Basic Rulebook ("The Haunted Keep") as a base, but I soon began improvising heavily during play. My first campaign thereafter became even more off-the-cuff with time, and it worked out pretty well... not my style now, though.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Sometime in 1981 when I was a 5th or 6th grader, the sitter while my parents were out played and I assume had DM'ed before. She ran my first two characters (Alexis the Dwarf and Antares the Halfling) through a short adventure using Modlvay Basic. I had to cut Alexis's hand off to save him from a cursed sword. At some point later on, rotating DMing with other friends, they ended up with some F-14s.
 
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Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
My friends and I literally just made up the rules and the game with little to no concept of how to play. It wasn’t until we got 2nd edition books and I finally understood THAC0 as a 12 year old that we started playing the game correctly. I’d just make up stories and they’d throw dice.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I’m not 100% positive it was my DM’s first time behind the screen. I know he had played before, but I don’t know about DMing. I am sure it was early in his DMing career thought, if not the first time.
 

Stormonu

Legend
As a first time DM with the Holmes box, with lots of winging it because the rules were a good stretch beyond my understanding at the time (I was only 9 years old). Didn't really start learning the game inside & out until the first red box a couple years later.
 

Alby87

Explorer
First time with a D&D like: Pathfinder 1E homebrew campain, I was a player with an experienced DM. First time with D&D, was during the pandemic, with an online DDAL game. Then, I bought materials and now I have a lot of hours of playing time :)
 

Hussar

Legend
First time was with my older brother running Keep on the Borderlands from the old Moldvay Basic set. Me an my brother's friends all made magic users. We all died to stirges very early on. :D

Cut my teeth on DMing after playing a short time, with rotating DM's with me and my friends. Good times.
 


Thanks for the responses so far.

The earliest game I remember playing in was when one of my school friends started a game in the library during lunch breaks. By the time we stuffed down our lunch and got set up we’d have about 45 min for a session, but we’d play most days of the week.

2E had just come out and our DM had the PHB. We played a homebrew version of Dragonlance using Mystara maps. We played for a couple of years until we got into high school and the DM wanted to focus on study.
 

I'm actually a little surprised how evenly spread the votes are. From this data, meager though it is, there's at least the suggestion that many groups actually do start out with a first-time DM (since option 1 is the most common, but the other two combined, both of which have a first-time DM, are 55.9%.) Meager data, forum poll, early days, etc. etc., I know not to make much of these results. Just surprising, since I expected something a lot closer to like...80% "player with an experienced DM."

(To explain a bit further: in order for us to get to 80% "player with an experienced DM," assuming no one changes their vote, we would need to rack up 61 more votes for that option without even one person voting for the other two. Even getting 30 votes all going to that one option would be pretty dramatic at this point, so these results are significantly different from what I expected.)
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I'm actually a little surprised how evenly spread the votes are. From this data, meager though it is, there's at least the suggestion that many groups actually do start out with a first-time DM (since option 1 is the most common, but the other two combined, both of which have a first-time DM, are 55.9%.) Meager data, forum poll, early days, etc. etc., I know not to make much of these results. Just surprising, since I expected something a lot closer to like...80% "player with an experienced DM."
I’m not all that surprised since I suspect a lot of people of my generation started in groups where one player had played the game a little, got excited by it, and then evangelized with their Basic D&D box by first-time DMing for a group of newbs.
 

aco175

Legend
My father had a couple guys from his work come over to show us how to play. One was the DM who seemed to know the rules well enough and the other was a statue who would turn into a PC if someone touched the statue, but nobody did. This was in the red box days where the DM would ask pointed questions such as, "How are you checking out the statue." or "Are you touching the statue." The way a question is asked makes a 9 year old very cautious.

I recall that we all died when a trap cut the party in half leaving some on one side with bugbears or hobgoblins and the others sticking around until we were flanked as well.

Next week, my father had the red box and was the DM for 5-6 of us neighborhood kids.
 

payn

Legend
I checked option 2, though the DM had experience as a player. He had this odd notion that you, the player, had levels in playing the game. You had to play so much before your level was high enough to allow you to run a game. Then, you had to earn levels as a GM to run higher level games. Was very odd and I have not seen this notion since.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I was just a freshman at a small midwestern college, and I never thought something like this could happen to me. But one week, I was late getting to class, and I had to sit in the back next to the gorgeous graduate teaching assistant. Little did I know when the TA asked if I was interested in dungeons what would await me .....
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
Sometime in 1981 when I was a 5th or 6th grader, the sitter while my parents were out played and I assume had DM'ed before. She ran my first two characters (Alexis the Dwarf and Antares the Halfling) through a short adventure using Modlvay Basic. I had to cut Alexis's hand off to save him from a cursed sword. At some point later on, rotating DMing with other friends, they ended up with some F-14s.

I’m not all that surprised since I suspect a lot of people of my generation started in groups where one player had played the game a little, got excited by it, and then evangelized with their Basic D&D box by first-time DMing for a group of newbs.

This is my general experience as well - I learned in 1981 when I was nine years old, when one of my younger brother's friends came over to hang out, and that kid's older brother got stuck driving him cuz he had his learners' permit...
Stuck having to hang out at our house for several hours, he brought his D&D stuff with him. He ended up running a quick game for me and our younger brothers, and a couple of years later I got the Basic rules for myself.

Later on, a number of kids in my neighborhood got into it although I'm not sure where some of them originally learned to play - but I know I was the first DM for a few of them.
 


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