So I spent many long hours in my unfinished basement, a dark and solitary place (probably to help foster that dungeon atmosphere), working on my version of D&D. I created maps and made cut-out miniatures. I tried to imagine how to define the abilities of ghosts and other monsters. I had a lot of fun doing all this, but, ultimately, my efforts went nowhere (good thing the hobby wasn't depending on me to help get it off the ground). I eventually turned my attention elsewhere and forgot about D&D, but D&D didn't forget about me.
A short time later (exactly when I'll discuss shortly), as I remember it, I received a present from a neighborhood friend for my birthday. Low and behold it was a magenta (I always thought it more of a pink) box emblazoned with the title Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (D&DB). This box featured the wonderful Erol Otus painting featuring two adventurers about to encounter a green dragon (I love even more the fact that this painting appeared within the cloud of a clairvoyance spell cast by a wizard which was used for the cover of the D&DX box set of the same edition). I was thrilled. It was more of a surprise because I don't remember telling anybody about this game or my desire to play it.
It's important for me to know when this happened. This was one of those pivotal points in my life; I want to understand it to its fullest. This transpired during the time that I moved from junior high school into high school. So many other things were changing then as well - my friends and my father's health just to name a few. I sometimes feel that I stepped onto a path at that juncture in my life, a path that is leading somewhere I can't yet see. I'm trying to better remember and understand my past to chart a solid course for the future.
I always thought this event took place in the late 70's, but according to acaeum.com this edition of D&DB (the 8th) was not released until 1981. This would put me in the second half of my 8th grade year of junior high school (I just realized the synchronicity of this occurrence - 8th edition in my 8th year of school, in my house we would call that a 'magic number'). I remember playing it over the summer with friends that did not attend the same high school to which I was enrolled. If I had received it for my birthday that year I would have already been in high school and therefore would not have played it with my junior high friends. I must have received it as a late gift or some such event that I'm blocking out of memory. For now I'll go with the year being 1981 when my passion for role-playing games was born.
Some might call it an obsession. It was not long after I received D&DB that I purchased (from the Sears toy department) the D&DX (with the cool, aforementioned Erol Otus cover) released the same year (as a side note, the first edition of D&DB was released in 1977 and D&DX was not released until 1981; imagine waiting 4 years before you could rise above 3rd level!). During my freshman year of high school I was introduced to AD&D1 (which was in full swing by then) and never looked back. By the end of high school I had all the core AD&D1 books, many modules, and my library was growing still. In college I began exploring games outside of the TSR line, but that is a story for another time.
With boxed set under my arm I set off on a journey that continues today, seeking high adventure in its many forms. And all is right in the realm.
Follow Your Bliss,
PS. I did eventually find a hobby store that carried role-playing games products. It was a store out in the suburbs of Cleveland, not far from my high school, that carried all the usual hobby supplies - models trains, planes and automobiles. It also had two book cases devoted to RPGs, right next to the war games. It was a small slice of Nirvana.