Sunday, March 25, 2012

My First Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Game

The Time: May, 1978
The Setting: James Dugan's* dining room with three other 12 year olds. James informs I've just randomly rolled up my first Advanced D+D character: a half-orc.

Action: Forget everything you know about orcs now-a-days. The half-orc in the Player's Hand Book wasn't exactly the "go to guy" for character generation. The fantasy adventure game that builds a magic land of swords and sorcery could randomly turn one of the players into a monster you've killed countless times, back in the Basic / Expert Games. Nobody 'played' the half-orc. Not on purpose. Everybody wanted to be Gandalf, Aragorn, or Legolas (or one of the stars from the movie, Excalibur), which made for a strange experience around the table, with nobody (except James, who owned the books) having seen the PHB picture of a half-orc before that night.

The upside was I also rolled my first, officially corroborated, straight 18 Strength roll (with the percentage bonus and everything) that night. We chewed up a lot of time with character generation, but eventually we found an abandoned castle, fought off a few wolves, and I battled 2 skeletons before falling into a spiked pit trap: most of it determined by James through random die rolls (some behind the screen, some not). That's how he DM’d, and since he was the only one with the DMG, we figured that's how you played Advanced D+D. Later, I learned he determined everything by random die rolls. That's how I got the half-orc in the first place.


The Take Away: I out-lasted everybody but the fighter (who was quickly killed by another skeleton down the hall). So, even though we didn't make it out of the first level, we still had fun. What kind I say? The game builds character.

*(For legal purposes, not his real name. And the above picture is from the 1978 Player's Handbook by Gary Gygax, pg. 18. Trademarked by TSR/ Wizards of the Coast, 2012).  

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