One day, one of my friends (I can't remember if it was Carl or Chris) pulled out these green-lined character sheets covered with arcane runes like "THAC0," "Bend bars/lift gates," "Constitution" and "Save versus Death." The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons logo was featured at the top. I had heard of D&D but really had no idea what it was. "It's like Final Fantasy, but you can make whatever kind of character you want," they explained to me. "Then you make up stories and adventures and stuff for them to go on."
My 12-year old mind was blown. I immediately made a character, which I remember vividly (I think his name was Arik). He had 20 Strength, 20 Constitution, 20 Dexterity, 5 Intelligence, 5 Wisdom and 15 Charisma. He had 600 hit points (we all started with 600 hit points) and had a Sword of Elements, which could attack with whatever type of damage was appropriate at the time.
We obviously had no idea what we were doing. We had no rule book, no dice, very little idea of how the game worked besides a few hours one of the other guys had played with some older kids. All he had were those ugly green character record sheets. And we loved it.
Most of our games looked like this:
DM: You meet an ogre.
Player: I hit it with my katana of destiny.
DM: How much damage do you do?
Player: Um, 500?
DM: It's dead. You find a potion, but it's not labeled.
Player: I taste it, does anything happen?
DM: It was poison. You die.
We played that for awhile, and then tried Marvel Superheroes, which was even more fun. You could make your own superhero? With whatever ridiculous powers you wanted? And I can beat-up Spider-Man??? Once again, we neglected to read the rule book, so that made it even better. It wasn't until Christmas that year when I got the D&D Basic Boxed set, and I sat down and realized that role-playing games actually had RULES. So many things suddenly made sense now, like: "Oh, so Turn Undead doesn't actually mean you transform into a zombie!" The box also came with a set of ugly polyhedral dice. I still have them, and though they really suck (I usually don't believe in luck affecting the probability of dice, but that stupid twenty-sider can't roll a 20 to save its goddam life), they hold a special place in my heart.
I'm now approaching 19 years playing table-top RPGs. Have I learned anything interesting or useful enough that people will want to read what I have to say? Probably not, but I still hope I can sufficiently minimize the suck so you'll stop by from time to time to read my ramblings. While you're here, leave a comment while you're at it. Tell us all about your first time.2
Join me next week when I'll tell you about the greatest RPG ever.
1 Which was probably for the best - even when I saw that movie years later, it still made no sense to me.
2 Yes, I mean first time-time playing D&D. But if you want to tell me about other firsts, that's okay, too.