How I got hooked on D&D
I started playing D&D in the mid-90′s with the 2nd edition. I was renting half of a house and my upstairs neighbor invited me to play. I had some experience with Palladium and White Wolf but I hadn’t really been bitten by the RPG bug yet.
Ralph, however, was a brilliant DM and it didn’t take long to get into the swing of it. He had a love of history that he put into every session and the games were often period-authentic Britain. The game was low-fantasy and occasionally very,very dangerous.
We once traversed a swamp and were beset by two young black dragons. It was a knock-down, drag out fight that I recall thinking that we weren’t prepared for, but my more bloodthirsty relished in the challenged. In the end we prevailed!
The party set about dressing the corpses: The scaly skin was peeled of for leather. The flesh was cut and set aside to be smoked. We made camp and set about our tasks.
Then, from above came a keening wail. Through the canopy we perceive a full adult dragon seeking her young! As she came in to land at the adjacent clearing, my fellow adventurers scattered for cover that I could never reach because I was playing halfling.
Big mama came in with a ferocious, blustering display. I tried to play it cool, but I knew that my character was going to take the fall for this and my fellow players , including my future wife, started to compare me to the goat in Jurassic Park (the first one). Indignant from the ribbing, I decided to do everything I could to foil their expectations. I tried to talk myself out of it.
I’ve already said that Ralph was a brilliant DM and he wasn’t about to to let me just roll a die to see if I could lie my way out of the jam. On the spot, I had to concoct a believable tale. “Great lady! I regret that we did not arrive in time to save your magnificent sons. They were beset by bandits, whom we drove off but we were not in time.”
Though mad with grief from the sight of her dismembered children, she listened. As she calmed, the dragon began to look suspiciously into the bushes that provided the rest of the party concealment. She wasn’t convinced just yet.
I set about explaining how my companions were afraid that she might blame them for her brood’s death. By this time, I had the spotlight for a good 10 minutes and one of the fellow players decided that he was bored. From one of the bushes, a fighter yelled, admitting in shockingly vile terms that we not only killed the dragons children but that we defiled them post-mortem.
The dragon’s eyes narrowed in anger. For my bravery and cheek, I was given a slow count of three to start running. Obviously, my stubbly little legs would not effect retreat in that time so I decided to hold my ground.
Round 1 : The dragon wins initiative, followed by me. The dragon misses and I retaliate by punching it in the nose—critical hit.
I don’t remember how the rest of the combat went except that the halfling did die and, to this day, my wife occasionally teases me for standing out there like a goat staked out for bait.
However that scene forever stands out in my mind as the best and worst of role-playing. On the one hand, my halfling took a brave stand and through a combination of clever role-play and lucky die rolls, accomplished something highly improbably twice. On the other hand, it revealed how little the other players cared for anything outside of combat and their willingness to leave one of their own behind.
In any event, by then, I was hooked!