Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why The Long Face?'s been a fairly sad day...for fans of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and those of us delving into our childhood memories...

So, even though I should probably just go to bed and let my blog sit and stew for 20 hours or so (what is this...a crock pot??), I say, "F that shit."  I am going to bed on a positive note, and even though I've killed most of a bottle of wine, I'm also thinking 


Which is to say, let's end the evening with the brain on a happy note. thing I found, oh, about two days ago (before my mad paper diving that ended in the prior melancholy post) was THE MAP.  That is, the first map I ever drew as an (aspiring) Dungeon Master.  This is the map that started it all!

Perhaps I'll post it, if I ever figure out how to make this scanner work.

Anyway, I shall now relate the tale of my first Dungeon Mastering experience:

I was in the 3rd grade.  I had received the Moldvay Basic set for my 8th birthday...this was November of 1981.  Reagan was president already (ugh!  and I had doorbelled for Jimmy Carter the prior summer!).  I had read the whole book, cover to cover at least once (the the history of poor Black Dougal the thief...I had read at least 2-3 times).

I had now created my first dungeon map (I have no idea where I got the graph paper from).  For many, many years this a plastic, hole-punched cover...was mounted in a three-ring, red plastic binder along with my (hole-punched) Basic and Expert set.  I don't know whatever happened to that binder (or the plastic cover) but I still have the map.  I should probably seal it up for posterity.

As with nearly all the maps of my youth, there is no key.  I don't know what the f--- I was doing back then, but I'm guessing I must have pretty much winged encounters or something. I don't know.  ANYWAY...this map is NOT a dungeon (surprise!) but is instead a CASTLE, mostly a walled fortress.  The key marks things like "archer" or "spearman"...basically, any place there were men-at-arms.

The "adventure" (based on the map, it must have been inspired by the included module B1:the Keep on the Borderlands) was simply this: lay siege to the castle.  That's it.  I don't remember there being a reason for attacking it other than "you're at war." There were no special monsters or "bosses" (this was 1981 for God's sake! "Boss monsters" and video games hadn't been invented!).  Why I bothered to even draw a map rather than run B1 is beyond me...probably I had not finished reading the module, or felt it was too complicated (I was only 8 at the time).

So I ran "the siege."  There was only one younger brother.  I have no idea what kind of character he rolled up (maybe an elf), but I know it died in a hail of arrows.  He rolled up another character and this one died, too. He was on his 2nd or 3rd character when Jocelyn arrived.

Jocelyn was the daughter of my mom's friend, Joyce. My parents were involved in local politics (party organizers) as was Jocelyn's mother. The night we were gaming was "caucus night" and the First District Democrats were meeting in my living room (did I mention door-belling for Carter?).  Jocelyn had been brought along by her mom and was ushered upstairs to play with my brother and I. 

She was only a year older than me (9 at the time), and I promptly sat her down and gave her an "NPC" to play...a halfling (B/X, remember?).  While my brother's character was again dying in some frontal assault, she figured out a way to climb the wall, aided by the distraction of my brother's messy demise, and was making her way to the castle armory as stealthily as possible when her mother called her to go...I remember thinking, hey, she's pretty smart (I don't remember if the halfling died or not).

That was the first time I met Jocelyn. She would be the foundation rock of my gaming group for the next six or seven years. She would also be a good friend during that time (my best friend for most of it) and we did a lot of things besides playing D&D.  Many of the positive memories from my childhood involved her.

And on THAT note, it is time I retired for the evening.
: )


  1. I love reading "how I got started playing D&D" stories. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I just wanted to mention that I am envious of your archive from D&D days past. I'd kill to get my hands on my awful custom psionics system, created entirely during 7th grade Spanish class, or a world map I drew in 5th grade that I never used, but had a mysterious island that I decided had Greek culture and monsters. (I was really into Greek mythology in 4th-6th grades) Sadly, the oldest thing I kept was a notebook for a campaign I ran in college, a mere six or seven years ago.

  3. Don't know if you'd be as envious if you could see the state of things...basically boxes of loose papers, some in folders, some not.

    But I'm a of these days I'll sift the gold from the dross. I've already started a tiny bit....