Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My First Time (Toys Without Tots)...

Remember your first time?  The excitement?  The sweat?  No, not that first time.  The other first time.  I mean, when you first realized that you were a gamer

So, testimonial.  The story of my first time (minus the sweat)...

Back in the sixth grade, I used to catch the bus on a street corner just one block away from where I lived.  We'd been there for years, and I clearly remember walking to elementary school and passing my future bus stop every day.  Hell, I even remember doing the math and calculating how old I'd be in the year 2000, getting the numbers right, but utterly failing to anticipate home computers and the whole Y2K thing.  But yeah, I knew that I'd turn 33 in that future time and was pretty sure I wouldn't get that awesome flying car...

But back in 1978, I found something better.  I found role-playing.

Now, I was a sixth-grader and in the process of outliving my interest in toys.  Sort of.  The truth was, I was still interested in play, but I didn't know how to channel it.  I liked models and still appreciated my Shogun Warriors and Star Wars action figures.  In short, I still loved the stuff of childhood play, but didn't have clue one about what to do with any of that...

Check out these toys.  I mean, who could resist?
(Image courtesy of the talented painter: The Mighty Eroc)

Play without toys?  Adult play?  I craved some mythical next step...  

OK, so, back to the bus stop.  It sat on the driveway of a house on a corner lot.  And sometimes, usually on warm summer nights over the previous season, the garage door was open to reveal people playing something around an elaborate tabletop diorama.  I was intrigued.  And yes, it was a war-game.  But my curious inquiries led me to a friend and his older brother who was becoming interested in a new kind of war-game called D&D.  And so it began.  My first character was Elvor the Slayer, an elf in the old-school, meaning he could alternate between fighter and magic user between adventures.  He died in old-school fashion, but the genie (so to speak) was already out of the bottle and doing stuff. 

So I was a role-player now.  It was a Saturday afternoon in early Autumn.  We were still rubbing summer out of our eyes, and there was lots of pre-game chatter about Star Wars and the latest episode of Buck Rogers coming on that night.  And there was also an adventure; something about exploring the ruins of a crypt.  But what I really remember is rolling up my character and getting a 14 intelligence.  Exciting stuff.  And then there was the game.  It was like playing with really cool toys in my mind.  Only the best toys ever...

We fought some kobolds and got a quick (and rather brutal) lesson in why we needed to search for traps and carefully explain everything we were doing.  There was surprisingly little combat, but I staggered away with 2 HP and decided I was wearing my armor next time, although my one spell had helped us stay alive.  It was chaotic, crazy stuff.  And I was totally hooked.  My love of play had survived adolescence, and I found out who I was.

Now, to be clear, I'm a lot of things.  Most more important than gamer.  But my first time, happily devoid of awkward backseat acrobatics, was still a critical (and accurate) revelation... 


  1. Hey! That is a picture of my Lord of the rings orcs!!! So cool!

    1. You did a fantastic job! And we more properly attributed these fabulous orcs to their most talented painter. They're true works of art, these beasties...


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