...Gygax & Arneson created Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). And all was right in the realm. Like many gamers of my generation, D&D is where it all started. Although I was not there at the groundbreaking I did arrive soon afterward.
D&D was well established as a cultural phenomenon by the late 1970's, which is when it first showed up on my radar. I have a clear memory of watching a local television program during the mid morning (probably during summer vactation). Featured on the program was a segment about a new game called Dungeons & Dragons. With a state-of-the-art flip-board drawing of a sample dungeon, the presenter discussed the basics of characters, monsters and dungeons.
Amazing, I thought, a game where the 'board' is different everytime you play! In fact, the board is only revealed as you play and each player has a unique character with which to explore this dungeon. Mind blowing. I had to have this game.
Even as a kid I loved games, all kinds of games. I loved games with lots of pieces, or as some have called them, fiddly-bits. The more fiddly-bits, the better the game. Games like Monopoly were ok, but I liked unusual games: Eacape from the Death Star, Happy Days, and the ever chic Welcome Back Kotter - Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose game (if you don't believe me on the last two, check out the links to boardgamegeek.com and see for yourself). Only a couple of things stood between me and possessing this game: access to a hobby store and money.
As a pre-teen in the late 70's I had two ways of getting arround: my bicycle and the city buses. Growing up in Cleveland there were not many places to safely ride your bike outside of the Metroparks, which were nowhere near me. Not that that stopped me from riding unsafely (like on the I-90 freeway, for example - a story for another time). Though not as economical as my bike, the city buses were by far the safer and farther reaching option. That is, if you knew where you wanted to go.
This may be obvious to most, but there was no Google back then, let alone the Internet. You had to let your fingers do the walking if you were looking for a store you hadnever been to, and the Yellow Pages were not the most well-indexed tomes. That's really beside the point; had I truely wanted to find such a store I would have. The more problematic hurddle was money.
My father was a cobbler (the kind that worked with shoes, not desserts) and my mother a seamstress. They had worked out of a storefront a few miles from our home for a number of years before my father's health started failing. By this time, we were living on the disability checks, my dad's pension from Italy and whatever money my mom could make doing dress and clothing alterations from our home. We lived in a working class neighborhood and it is a testament to my mom's budgeting skills that we were as comforable as we were (somehow that budgeting gene missed me). Needless to say, I couldn't really afford such "frivaless things like games", as my mom would say (translated from Italian). Without money, what is a kid to do?
End Of Part 1
[Note: I will be typing a lot about my various experiences with all the editions of Dungeons & Dragons. To make thinks a little easier on my fingers and hopefully clarify which of the various editions I'm writing about, I plan to use the following abreviations within a post (for the Topic lables I'll replace the '&' with an 'n' since the ampersand won't work in a link):
- D&D - The Dungeons & Dragons RPG phenomenon as a whole
- D&DB - The Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules Set
- D&DX - The Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rules Set
- D&DC - The Dungeons & Dragons Companion Rules Set
- D&DM - The Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules Set
- D&DI - The Dungeons & Dragons Immortals Rules Set
- D&DRC - The Dungeons & Dragons Rules Compendium
- AD&D - The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line as a whole
- AD&D1 - The first edition of Advenced Dungeons & Dragons; subsequent editions will be labeled with the appropriate number; i.e., AD&D2 for second edition, AD&D3, etc.
- OD&D - The original Dungeons & Dragons game release and all of its supplements (Greyhawk, Blackmoor, etc.)
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