My first time was in a basement with shag carpet, on top of a pool table while a Hamm’s beer neon sign flickered in the background. There were curse words constantly being used, smells of body odor and even a mention or two of condoms. The first time you play D&D is always magical.
I had known of the existence of Dungeons and Dragons for years and had even happened upon my oldest brother playing with his friends in our basement from time to time. I was initially entranced by the Monster Manuals. As a kid I loved categories and ways to measure one thing to another and along with the Guinness Book of World Records the Monster Manual enabled me to do that. I no longer had to wonder what the result of a fight between a Minotaur and a T-Rex could be, I could look on pages 28 and 71 and make a pretty good assumption that the Minotaur and his measly 6 hit dice would get gobbled by the T-Rex since just one of it’s 3 attacks could do up to 40 damage. Bye bye Mantuar.
But at the age of 9 I was happy to just browse through the manuals and issues of Dungeon magazine dreaming about potential match-ups and sketching the creatures I saw inside. I never actually tried to learn the game until about 4 years later.
The events that lead to me sitting in the Trich family basement to try out Dungeons and Dragons for the first time have been losts to the mists of a 38 year old mind. What I do remember however is that my childhood friend Paul was the Dungeon Master while his brother Bryan, another friend Jason and then I were the adventurers. Bryan was either a straight-up warrior or a barbarian because I remember him being obsessed with swinging a halberd. Jason was a thief named Oogus (the name of the DM’s pet frog) and I decided to be the wizard of the group named Rasmus (I had just returned from a summer trip to Germany where I had drank my first swig of wine to toast the German god of wind Rasmus before going out sailing with my host family).
Again, because of my fickle memory, I don’t remember much about that first adventure but there are flashes of remembrance from that day. I’m sure there was a conversation about finding someone to have sex with when the group was in a tavern and since our public education had done it’s job, we had to discuss what one would use as a condom when rubber wasn’t available. I remember being extremely disappointed that magic missile was not only a cruddy spell but I was severely limited in how often I could use it per day. There was at least one occasion where we attempted to solve a puzzle (I assume unsuccessfully)with 50 ft of rope and a 10 ft pole. And I know for certain that one of the final pieces of treasure we received after defeating the big bad guy was a full suit of armor made out of gold.
Thats it, thats all I remember from my first attempt at playing Dungeons and Dragons. So why have I continued to play for twenty-five years after such an inauspicious beginning? Because that beginning was still fun! I got to roll a 20 sided dice!At an age when I was quiet and timid Rasmus was clever and bold. I could shoot magical rays from my fingers and kill fantastical creatures. Most importantly though, I learned how much fun it was to get a group of good friends together to tell cooperatively tell a story. Its the same reason I still play today.