D&D General Your first D&D experiences?


How did you find D&D?

I began as a necessary hassle. My brother was given the Red Box back in 1979 as a November Birthday gift. He opened it and read it as a 9 year old and wanted to play - but the only person available to play was his stupid 6 year old brother (me). I built an elf under his guidance and set off for adventure. I'd guess we played for less than 30 minutes before my elf ventured into a cell in the caves of chaos ... and adventured no more. However, I was hooked. For Christmas I asked my parents for the 'real books' I saw in the bookstore. They bought me the PHB, DMG and MM. I ran my first game on the last weekend of 1979 for three kids that I hardly knew ... and that did not find the same joy I did in D&D and (as far I know) never played again ... but I was hooked. By the time I was 8 I had found my first group and was DMing weekly for them.

Now, I was likely only following about 2% of the rules, but I definitely had the heart of the game there. They played characters. Those characters were the heroes. I played all the other characters. They rolled dice to see if their plans worked out. I made sure they had paths to victory. As time went by I paid more and more attention to the rules as written. I read a lot of fantasy. I met more groups that allowed me to play as well as DM. By the time I reached high school in the late 80s I was splitting my time between D&D, Atari, Books, and music. When I reached high school, D&D was the thing that I thought about while rushing through my schoolwork and I couldn't wait to get a chance to play a character or run the next session fo my friends. My earliest efforts were likely attrociously bad - but they're the foundation that I've built 42 years of games upon.

If you want a better told tale, Matt Mercer recently recounted his 'origin story' for a 30 minute podcast called Meditative Story. It is an interesting listen.

He also recounts the origin more fully here:


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The High Aldwin
My older cousin (about 10) had the red box set and one summer got my older sister and some others playing (all about 9-11 I would say). I watched one day and asked my cousin if I could play. I played a Magic-User who casts Magic Missile and then would throw darts, so I named him "Dartson" -- later renamed "Darson". I was about 5-and-a-half and started playing daily that summer, had my best friend (also 5) join us a bit later, and his older brother and sister. So, after my cousin left that summer, it was the five of us: me, my friend, my older sister, and his older brother and sister.

When I went to school, some of our friends joined as well so we kept the group going with our older siblings moved on.


A suffusion of yellow
Two bullywugs and a carrion crawler accosted me while I was exciting the railway subway on my way home from school one afternoon. Valiantly I asked my mother to buy them for my birthday, she also added the red box for a better experience - I found friends at school who wanted to play too…
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I was introduced to AD&D 1E by my two cousins around 1979 or so. We only saw them a couple times a year, and this time when they came to visit they brought their AD&D gear and about a dozen pregenerated PC sheets they had created. We got to choose our PCs from the stack; I chose the one whose stats sucked the least and thus ended up with a human druid named "Jon." (I later found out they had programmed their computer to randomly select a number between 3 and 18 instead of adding three randomly-generated numbers between 1 and 6, which explained the crappy ability scores overall.) They ran us through a dungeon they had designed on graph paper (the dungeon was two sheets of paper wide; Harry had designed the left half and Tom designed the right half, and they took turns running a shared PC and DMing based on which half of the dungeon we were in at the time); about all I recall was fleeing from some giant rats, my little brother James running a gnome of some type who dipped his finger into a pool of liquid to see what it was (it was acid - he lost a fingertip), and there being a couple of teleport traps that shunted us across the dungeon to random places.

But that was all it took; that Christmas at our frantic urging, my two brothers and I received the three AD&D 1E core books and our gaming adventures were off and running.



Front Range Warlock
I first played D&D (Holmes Basic) as part of our school's Gifted Education program in 1983-ish. All of us (kids) immediately went home gushing about what fun we had. Shortly thereafter, the GE program was suspended and the teacher who ran just kind of disappeared (she was let go). This was deep in the Bible Belt at the height of the Satanic Panic. You do the math.


I was driving somewhere back in 2000 when I heard an advertisement on the radio for the D&D College Tour. I’d transferred to Ohio State that year and remembered a friend of mine who went to school there would set his away status to “Playing D&D in the Union” every Saturday, so I went over to check it out. I picked up some tat, which I still have, and then went to the Union that weekend to play my first D&D game. I made a fighter, which the group helped me name (Gorman). I think I ended up getting the books as a Christmas gift. I played 3e with that group for a while, then my friend and some others split off to run our own game.

I eventually got my turn to DM. My game was very strange because I made it up as I went along. It was set ostensibly in the Realms, but since I never bothered to read any of the books, I just used the names on the maps and made the rest up. I’m sure someone who was deeply into the lore would have had a conniption, assuming the campaign itself didn’t do them in. That campaign is still a source of memes though all these years later, so I must have done something right. We took a break from D&D for a while, but we eventually came back, and I’ve been our forever DM ever since (other people run other games, but I’m the run who runs something D&D-like).

I’m also still running for that and one of the other guys from our college group these 22 years later.



My first D&D experience was getting the 2nd edition AD&D books and trying to learn on my own - because no one around me played. I ended up having my sister make a gnome thief named Varia. I had no idea how RPGs were supposed to work, so I just picked monsters from the Monstrous Compendium binder and threw them at the character in random encounters - like console video games such as Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest outside the USA). Varia was in a rowboat and encountered a displacer beast - because I thought it looked cool.
I was still in middle school and found a high school guy who wanted to play. I tried to run a game for him, and he informed me "that's not how you run D&D." He showed me the ropes, just enough to get started.
Throughout middle school I didn't get much real game time, though we played a lot of HeroQuest. In high school I was able to join my first real campaign, playing some of the classic adventures from the Ravenloft setting. It wasn't until I started college that I really came into my own, running games for around 6 other players (including a professor from the University). Ever since, I've been sort of the de facto DM in my groups.


In 1977, my next door neighbor's grandson, who would visit multiple times a year, and though I was 2 years older, visited with books and module in tow. Apparently, he had dyslexia issues and his 6th grade school teacher encouraged him to learn and play D&D since it had copious amounts of reading, mathematics that he might willingly engage for the information and help overcome his learning disability. We ran a single days session running Against the Giants. It would be two years, before I found a local weekend game where my real ventures into D&D took place.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I first found D&D when I was ... 9? maybe ... at summer camp. Knights Day Camp, an appropriate name. Everyone was part of a group of 8-12 similar age kids that did most things together, but after lunch (and occasionally at other times) we'd have an hour where we signed up for various activities. I remember one year I did Indian Lore almost every day, and got close enough to the guy running it to learn some actual Indian Lore, instead of making crafts with plastic beads - which in retrospect was both rather insulting and made me the owner of the island of Manhattan.

Anyway, there were these two kids with books, and they would pick the activity which was all sorts of tabletop games liek slap hockey and stuff. I was intrigued enough to go there (instead of computers, which I was into that year) and watch them play. A few weeks later I picked up Moldvay's Red Box Basic set. But I never got a chance to play with them.

It wasn't until over a year later that I found another player, a friend of my cousin's who was a touch older than I and lived on the next street over. From there it expanded. More friends, some whom I introduced to it. At our local library. Meeting friends of friends who played, and becoming friends of them.

Ah, the memories.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I first heard about it in about 1979. One of the kids on my school bus was talking about his older brothers playing it. I wasn't really sure what it was. Fast forward a year to 1980 and a friend of mine, who had played in his Boy Scout troop, got a copy of the Holmes Basic D&D set for Xmas. We poured over that thing on the school bus all spring long and as school ended, I made up my first party of PCs. Yes, party. I was his only player that summer. So I made up 6 PCs, cribbing their names from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom books I was reading at the time. Then he ran me through the dungeon he made up. The body count was 4 dead, 2 fled to parts unknown, and one survivor who leveled up to 2nd level as a fighter.
It was awesome!


Late 70's, I was probably 7 or 8 and remember watching my older brother and his friends play. I remember that they had fallen from a boat and were arguing who was able swim with their armor on, don't remember much else.

It was a few years later, probably around 12 when I got to play for the first time. Looking back, it was a mess. The DM was the only person who had played before and we weren't allowed to see our character sheets (can't remember the reasoning) and he'd make fun of us for not knowing the rules. Looking back, it's surprising that I stuck with it, but I hooked.

Through DnD I met my very best friends in the world 30+ years ago when we were stationed together at 29 Palms. We still play regularly together. The past few years we've been doing a "survey" of different games systems - PbA, Strands of Fate, MAZES and a couple I can't remember the names of.

Watched the D&D cartoon growing up and played Zelda, Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy and other RPGs before ever seeing an actual book. A friend borrowed the 1E PHB from his uncle and we spent a weekend trying to figure things out, but we really couldn't (the rules for the game are in the DMG).

My brother found a game and joined up, but refused to introduce me to the DM, since he didn't want me "tagging along." I decided to make my own rpg, using what I remembered and stuff from video games. I got two friends together and ran a small adventure, during which my brother's DM stopped by. He asked what we were doing, and unaware of who he was, I explained (badmouthing my brother along the way). He immediately invited me into his game, explaining to my brother that I'm going to play anyway, so I best learn how to play right. He saw my initiative in making an rpg, and ao shortly after I got into the game he apprenticed me to become a DM (this was common in 1E and OD&D, since the rules weren't available to the players).


Late in 1976, I was 13 and a boy from the year above had got the white box set. He knew my friend quite well and asked us to play a game, which we did; a straight dungeon crawl which ended with my fighter, Aelric, and his M-U, Amroth, being killed by orcs after three sessions. Big thanks to DM Dave and friend Phil for getting me started.
For Xmas, I got the white boxed set myself and haven’t looked back.
Just as an aside, I started a D&D club at my school in 1977 and my grandson now attends the same school and tells me the club is still running for 9th grade and above. He’s in 7th grade and plans to join in two years.

D&D, along with friends, school and rugby, got me through a tough childhood and I’ll be forever thankful for all four.


One of the major news channels was having a segment on some kid who vanished into a pipe system under the school, who played a game called Dungeons and Dragons. Cue shot from I guess Gencon with 3D dungeons filled with monsters. I told my dad right then and there I wanted the game*. Got the Holmes set for Christmas, didn't understand a word of the rules (I was 9-10ish?) but got minis (a set of heroes and monsters) and started making maps to play out their adventures on. Roped in my friends and never looked back. Didn't start using the "real" rules until a couple years later (6th grade) with the Moldvay set, then picked up the AD&D 1E rules as an 8th grade graduation present.

* Considering what the news segment was about, it's a wonder I got it.


Mid 80's or so I read a lot of books, often finding it hard to find new books I could afford (ones that cost 25 cents or less). Then I discovered Choose Your Own Adventure Books, and got hooked on the idea of choosing a story. I read through them....and then discovered some D&D Choose Your Own Adventure Books, and read them too. In the very back of the D&D books was an add "if you like this book, try this game".

I did, and so I did.

I found the BECMI Basic Red Box at Book Barn for just $3.99. Then got some people to come over and we stumbled through the game.

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
It was 1982 and I was 12 years old in 7th grade. A whole bunch of other nerds in my classes were talking about it, so eventually I convinced my mom to buy me a copy of Moldvay. I drew up a bunch of characters and playtested them through Keep on the Borderlands in hopes of figuring out what the whole game was about and how one played it. From that day on I was in love.

My father had read both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings to me as a child, and had introduced me to both Fritz Leiber and HP Lovecraft once I was old enough to read on my own. My mother, who just knew that her son seemed to be really into this "fantasy" stuff, out of the blue one day in the early nineties gave me both the original AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide and a box of miniatures, labeled "Whizzards & Warriors". I absolutely poured through that book - an entire chapter listing magic items! A two page chart describing what happens when you're poisoned! It was all utterly fascinating to me, even if I only had a vague notion of what it was.

The problem, really, was that I had no idea that there were other books, let alone that the Players Handbook existed. The DMG kept talking about this game you were supposed to play with it, but I was very vague on how that was supposed to work. Eventually, I managed to corral a few friends in the eighth grade lunch room - I gave them each a miniature, and opened the book to the 'sample dungeon', and instructed them to place their minis on the map. The players kept asking what they could do - I filled it in as best I could imagine, but it was mainly hand-wavey - "oh you're a knight, you can attack things with your sword and have a shield". I was a bit heartbroken when the next day, one of the players stopped me in the hall and told me, "...my dad said you're not supposed to show us the map."

I really should have asked that kid to introduce me to his dad, but I did not. It wasn't until I changed schools that I was sitting in an art class and saw another student wearing a t-shirt with a dragon and a castle on it, and worked up the courage to ask him if he liked fantasy and gaming. He brought me into his 2e game, and we played for years after.

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