My Story or How A Gamer is Born!
I left public high school in the middle of my 10th grade year and transferred into an alternative high school. The new school was an oasis of calm in my otherwise turbulent life. There, an old friend from grammar school invited me to play Dungeons and Dragons after school. Role Playing Games were vastly different from the board and card games I had played in the past: there was no board and the rules were in books. I was very apprehensive, but I went along to see what the game was all about.
For over an hour we rolled dice to create a character for me. I was so bored, but I gave my Barbarian Warrior the name of Thor. The Dungeon Master, to entice me, gave me a Hammer of Thunderbolts. Cool. I was Thor with a hammer, ok? The DM started the game and the other three players became giddy with excitement. For several minutes the DM talked, but I was only half listening. Then he said, “What do you do?” My fellow players told me to attack, so I did. But how?
They handed me a crystal 20-sided die. I stared amazed, this was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen. The other guys instructed me to roll it and add three to my roll and that would be my “to hit” number. I loved dice, this was going to be fun. I carefully rolled the die on the hard-covered AD&D book given to me, I was told it was good luck. The die stopped rolling on the number 20 and everyone at the table yelled “CRIT!”
What did I do, I asked? They explained that I rolled a critical hit and discharged the special magic feature of the hammer. The hill giant was killed instantly by an enormous thunder clap. My fellow players patted me on the back. The best part was that the hammer returned to my hand like Mjolnir! I was playing my favorite comic book characters. I wanted more. At 6pm when we had to go home, I was upset that we had to stop, but they said we would pick it up after school tomorrow. We did! Almost 40 years later, I still can’t get enough.
College was fun, but I missed my after-school gaming group. For my freshman year, I didn’t get to play at all. I did run a few Top-Secret games and a few one-shots, but it was nothing like high school. Then, in November of my sophomore year, I was walking through the quad my dorm was located in, and I heard “Roll initiative!” My heart stopped, did people play D&D here? There, in one of the suites, was a group of freshman playing D&D. No way!
Later that week, I took the opportunity to introduce myself to the group. They were surprised to find another D&Der, too. The first question asked of me was, Did I run? They all hated being Dungeon Master, and desperately wanted to play, not game master. I said I would try. That group lasted over ten years in a campaign of my own design! In that time, D&D had moved to 3.0 and the rule changes caused a slight kerfuffle. We lost a few players, but found new ones. That campaign world was immortalized in my comic series “The 5 Cities of Evil.” Like all things, that group eventually disbanded. I was left with no game again, and I was 30. I had no college to meet players, I was on my own!
The internet was getting good by that time and I came upon Meet-Up, and there was an RPG (Role Playing Games) group and I joined. We met up at a Chinese restaurant. I met another gamer around my age and a really strange teenager. We decided to try to promote the group and see if we could find enough people to play, so we did. A year later we had over 100 members and had a game going on the side: The RPLI, the Role Players of Long Island.
My DMing skills were improving with my returning to graduate school. I created detailed terrains and started using miniatures. The RPLI ran several games at local gaming conventions, and we had many campaigns using our website to keep track of their games. It was truly fantastic. I didn’t have a regular game, but when I ran, it was extremely intense. The gaming systems changed, but the way I ran, with passion and diligence, was always the same! My games were very popular.
But just as soon as that phase started, it ended badly. The group fell apart, the convention ended, and the in-fighting became too intense. A new group using Meet-Up took our place and a new gaming store helped. For many years I had games, but they just weren’t fun anymore. So, without the local stores, there was no game you could get in, I was without a game and too old again!
I then found Roll 20, an online platform that allows you to play virtually with other gamers from anywhere. I found many fun games, and it was novel to use my computer to play, but I like the need for maps, so there I played for years. Most games broke up after a few sessions. Eventually I found games that played weekly, and I settled in to gaming without ever seeing those I’m playing with. I still look forward to games on Roll 20, but at the current time I play in none.
I do have a new group now and I get to play in person. The group has a wide range of ages and experiences, we play 5.0 D&D and Star Wars, and we have fun. My gamer’s journey has been a strange one, but I still get excited before a game. I still make notes during the game, and still draw pictures of characters or situations. My gamer’s journey is chronicled in dozens of drawing pads, in pictures, words, and most importantly, in hit points!