It Gets a Bit Fuzzy
We last left off with my younger self about to buy my first TSR product: The Basic Set.
Oddly enough, this pivotal moment in the story remains the least clear to my memory.
I’d have to put it in the fall of 1983. Paul and I were best friends, spending most weekends at each other’s house pretending to go on monster slaying adventures. The Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was in its first season. I can remember seeing each the first time they aired, and then watching them all over again when they re-ran. I think I had even played a short game of it with him and his older sister.
In other words, the D&D craze was reaching a frenzied peak for us and much of the country.
Joining the Society…
While some may read 1983 and think, holy cow, that’s a long time ago and did you really play with all those charts!? Many others probably read 1983 and think that I’m still wet behind the ears and I had missed the years leading up to the pinnacle. After all, orange spines make up the bulk of my book collection. Again, this will mean something to some of you, and nothing to others.
Somehow, whether it was a gift or something I had saved my own money for, I ended up with a brand new, color your cheap plastic dice with supplied crayon, Elmore emblazoned, red boxed, Dungeons & Dragons: Basic Rules Set 1. I remember coloring in and polishing the dice. I remember the inspiring artwork inside. I remember the imagination inspiring lists of monsters and their descriptions.
For a 10 year old who had never read a novel longer than 100 pages, even the basic set was pretty complicated. I probably struggled for a couple of days with it, until I swallowed my pride and asked my mom to help me figure out the introductory, choose your own style adventure. I remember her working through the adventure with me on a car ride to Thanksgiving at my Grandpa’s house.
Hit the Ground Running
While I still remain a bit disappointed that I never got to hunt down Bargle and avenge my first NPC friend, the intro adventure did succeed marvelously. After getting through the intro adventure, it all suddenly clicked. I devoured the books. I read and re-read them. I drew up maps, memorized monsters, and wrote down adventures.
Before long I wanted more and my collection would begin to grow as I discovered something interesting. I found reading the books nearly as much fun as playing it. I still really enjoy that aspect of the hobby today.
My first module would be G1-3: Against the Giants. One of the greatest modules of all time. Unfortunately, not a great choice for a beginner’s module (either character experience but more importantly, player experience). Shortly after that, I think I got B1: In Search of the Unknown. This time not even a great module in addition to being very difficult to decipher. It’s the only module I know of that has you fill in the monsters and treasure before you start. After these two purchases, I’m a little surprised I stuck with it.
But I did stick with it, and I played it once or twice with Paul, but it was really the imagined potential and the pretend play that it spawned that kept me interested. Eventually, I would pick up S3: Expedition to Barrier Peaks, the blue box Expert Set, and continue collecting modules and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books over the next 5 or 6 years.
The collecting bug had bitten me hard.