As we trundle into the weekend, I thought I'd share something that has no other value than as fuel for my own personal nostalgia: my first role playing game character.
First, a little back story: I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but I more or less "backed into" Dungeons & Dragons. You see, by the end of the 70's, I was familiar with the game - probably from having seen it in KayBee Toys - and that was the extent of my knowledge of it. I was curious, but not enough to spend my hard(ly)-earned allowance on it. (That privilege was reserved for Star Wars merchandise, Micronauts, etc.) And I was cool with that.
For some reason I'll never fully comprehend, my demeanor toward the game changed drastically around 1980. With the simple discovery that a good friend's older brother played the game, I suddenly found my interest in the game blossoming. I imagine this was partially fueled by media hype surrounding D&D (the new "fad" was - it seemed - forever appearing in various news outlets back in the day), by the ever-growing line of products for the game, by the growing buzz surrounding the fantasy genre - and probably more than a little by my Hobbit-loving 8th-grade English teacher.
I'll cover all of this in more depth in my next "Growing Up Geeky" post, because there was an awful lot going on back in those days - and covering it all in detail is far beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say, my interest in the game reached a zenith sometime during 1980 or 1981.
My first D&D product was not a set of rules, but a module: A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. This wasn't something I bought for myself - heck, it wasn't even something someone else bought for me. No, it was something my mother bought as a present for aforementioned friend's impending birthday. Knowing nothing about the game, neither of us knew what to purchase first. She brought the shrink-wrapped module home, and before wrapping it up she asked my nephew and I if we'd like to open it and see what it looked like inside.
Would we like to open it? Well, duh! Of course we would - and that's just what we did.
Again, I'll get to the details in a later post, but my friend never got that particular birthday present. We got him something else, and Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords became my gateway into D&D. Later, I would add Grenadier's "Specialists" boxed set of miniatures to my collection. More of the Grenadier sets would follow. And, on Christmas morning, 1981, I would finally own the game proper in the form of the Moldvay Basic set.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I did a lot of thinking about D&D before ever getting to actually play the game. I had some serious preconceptions as a result. I knew, for instance, just what the fantastic world of the game was like (driven by artwork I'd seen adorning covers of various D&D products, such as B1: In Search of the Unknown and Eldritch Wizardry. (I had a pretty solid mental picture of the world, so it was a good thing that D&D didn't come with a an in-built world setting - that may have turned out to be a deal-breaker.)
I also knew who my first character was: an elf prince by the name of "Moordow."
Inspired by the paladin in the "Specialists" set ("What the heck's a paladin? That's how my elf should look though.") Moordow was alive in my mind months before I pulled out my six-sider that day in late December of '81. And I swear, his stats were rolled as written. (Go ahead - prove I'm not telling the truth.)
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