And what a change it was. Now, instead of the flimsy, monochrome books we were used to (even though they did come in a series of increasingly pretty boxes),
we now had actual, hardbound books to work from.
But such things were beyond the reach of us mere mortals, so instead we just played the new adventures with the old rules. Thus began our assault on the Aerie of the Slavelords.
Karl’s sea elf, his loyal retainers, and the huge tank of water I was somehow convinced he needed to survive went their way through the streets of the City. What we did that night had no impact on the plot, and very little to do with the scenario itself. But we had fun, and that is what mattered.
Now I was hooked, because I knew that like most of the games I had learned to play, it was possible to play this kind by myself. Harder, not as much fun, but possible. My first character was a nightmarish freak, with maxed out stats and crazy, crazy levels. Illegal, and broken in every way, it was fun to imagine the exploits of Orcslayer and his magic sword as he mowed down hordes of opponents in his quest of…something.
Exactly what, I never figured out. But my mother faithfully helped by accquiring those classic scenarios at the bookstore (the one in the mall, where ‘rich’ people shopped). A’s, T’s, and S’s arrived, (as well as a few B’s, but not many, those were for kids). I would devour the plots, dissect the statistics, and most important, roll those dice. My weekends were spent examining the lives (and deaths) of critters, creatures, and all sorts of generally bad people.
And then I would imagine people to play with. You know, the kind of people who attended Gen Con, which was advertised on the covers, in the text, and on the wrappers of those scenarios. Because there certainly weren’t any around where I was.
I wanted so badly to fight the same kinds of monsters that appeared in the novels I read, or maybe be able to play in a science fiction world or two. The kids in my neighborhood were down with tag, touch football (with a tennis ball–they cost less), and skateboarding. Occasionally, I could get one or two of them to play Monopoly, but action figures and D&D were not on their pre-adolescent radar. So for several years, my exploits into fantasy were solo.
When I did find a regular group, it was many miles and worlds away from those wonderful days in the sun. But I’ve never forgotten where I started from, and never will.