Friday, December 16, 2011

Open Friday: Did You Have a Gaming Mentor?

For the benefit of those of you who haven't been following recent discussions, here's a more detailed version of the question: How did you learn to play RPGs? Did you simply buy a boxed set or a book, read it, and start playing all on your own, or did you have someone else show you how the game was played (correctly or incorrectly)?

I'm sure there are shades of gray in between the two options, but, for the purposes of this poll, "Yes" indicates that you turned to someone else for assistance at any time, while "No" indicates that you taught yourself without any outside assistance.  I mention this because I myself began playing by cracking open a Holmes boxed set and diving in, but it wasn't until a friend's older brother corrected all my misapprehensions that I started playing the game "right." That's why I consider myself to have had a gaming mentor.

If you want to do so, you can use the comments to let me know which game you used to teach yourself the game or, if you had a mentor, who it was that taught you how to play.

89 comments:

  1. It was the eve of Christmas of ‘84 that I sat opening my very own D&D Basic Red Box Set!

    I eagerly tore open the wrapping to get to what was inside. Now I had played the game before with a friend during our school break.

    It was from that time forward that I knew what role I was meant to play in this amazing game, everything else would be second best.

    I was a Dungeon Master!

    As it worked out nobody wanted to run the game, but everyone want to play.

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  2. Nope, no mentor. Just bought the books and started running games myself.

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  3. Tony Smith. He taught me that there is more to being a DM than reading what's in the book. That the story matters, that challenging the players is key, and death is something that happens frequently and it's not your fault that PCs die.

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  4. Three at first. They had been playing for a while, when I joined in. We spent the next two years, taking turns DMing modules and home-brewed one-shots. Then another friend joined and clued us in on the idea of campaign play, which had utterly eluded us, up until that point.

    Our games during those first two years were very wargamey and almost completely lacking in role-playing, as it's usually thought of. But it really was, I think, a fine way of learning the game. And a fantastic way of learning to DM. There was no DM/Players dichotomy. Just four guys playing AD&D as we helped and taught one another, how to run the game.

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  5. The year was 1982 and I joined my first real High School club. D&D club. We started with the basic box set. Five minutes later I had a huge portion of my life fall into place.
    One of my players today is a mentor from that club and a life long friend.
    Another mentor from that club gave me his "blue book" edition when he graduated. I still break it out once in a great while.

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  6. I sort of self-taught myself, but I clicked "Yes" because there were some DMs in my early life that molded how I play today. One of whom used to play regularly with Gary (his name was also Gary).

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  7. I got the Holmes basic set for my birthday and tried to run a game for my family (my parents patiently sat at the table while I tried to figure things out). Later on, I played with friends, and probably picked up the conventional play methods from them.

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  8. We got the "Holmes" edition (as I have now been educated on what the various editions are) and played it right out of the box. When I say "we" I mean a group of 4th and 5th graders so I don't consider us being mentored since none of us had experience with the game and we were all the same age. Eventually we migrated to AD&D and continued to teach ourselves the game, always with peers, not mentors.

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  9. I said no, because I played as a DM for almost a year before I met another DM to exchange notes with. However, after that we learned from each other pretty heavily.

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  10. I said no, because the guy I learned to play with was learning at the same pace.

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  11. As with most aspects of my childhood (growing up as a nerd in in rural NY) I learned to role play (D&D, of course) in a vacuum*. That being said, my real mentor was Tom Moldvay - I learned to play from his wonderful Basic rule book, and the core of my gaming style flows from that book (preferring simple and concise rules; seeing rules as guidelines for having fun, not as law; etc.).

    (*I played two or three forgettable games with my school friends, but the bulk of games included only my nephew and I. You guys who played with groups of friends and/or in clubs at school and elsewhere: you have no idea how much I envy you. I may have to write something on my blog about this....)

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  12. Although he was never an avid gamer, my brother's casual interest in D&D was passed down to me, and I ran with it. I remember, in particular, when he showed me a yellow character sheet that he'd filled out, and the drawing of his character that he'd completed. He was a human fighter, I think, and he didn't last too long.

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  13. Since the beginning, I was the one who liked to read so I became the Dungeon Master and learned the game, then taught everyone else. At 11 years old it wasn't pretty in the early days, but it was fun. :-)

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  14. I guess I technically did, but he was useless. My friend down the street had a copy of Moldvay and I was really interested in it, so he ran it for me. Here's a word for word transcript of my first session: DM: "What kind of character do you want?" Me: "Um, a knight I guess?" DM: "Nah, you want to play a cleric. They can pull stuff out of their hats." Me: "Like a sword?" DM: "Yeah, but you can't use it. Anyway, you're a cleric. You walk into a room. There's a statue in the middle of the room. What do you do? Do you want to talk to it, touch it, what?" Me: "Um...I guess touch it." DM: "OK, it hits you and you die. Game over."

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  15. I figured out character generation in Moldvay D&D, but I couldn't figure out the map for B2 and I wasn't really sure what to do. So my mom asked a friend whose kids played AD&D, and they showed me how to run game and took me through B2. Of course, they showed me some AD&D stuff and had some rules wrong, which took me years to figure out how to do correctly . . .

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  16. I 100% taught myself first the Moldvay basic set and then AD&D. Many of the people in my campaigns were new players, so I guess I actually acted as a gaming mentor.

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  17. I clicked yes because I had a friend named Billy Taylor who in 6th grade brought in a bunch of handwritten notes (equipment lists, tables, monster descriptions) on a game his parents were playing called D&D. He showed us how to play at recess and I was hooked. I went home that day and begged my parents to take me to the local toy store to buy the game. That was the Holmes boxed set. I muddled my way through it and the rest is history. That was almost 32 years ago.

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  18. No mentor. Mr. Moldvay’s Basic booklet and Mr. Gygax’s Keep on the Borderlands were my introduction. (I think sometimes B2’s filling in some additional blanks of the Basic Set—beyond just being an adventure—is under-appreciated.)

    I also have this theory that there are some aspects of the game that were communicated person-to-person that never made it into the books. So, groups that had some connection to a Lake Geneva group played a bit differently than those of us where all the mentors had learned only from the books.

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  19. I was given the Moldvay basic boxed set that included B2 along with C1 separately for Christmas when I was nine. I jumped right into it and have been hooked on RPGs ever since. The best thing about C1 was that it reminded me of an Indiana Jones-style foray into a forgotten tomb and I'm sure that helped to keep my interest for so long. I didn't have a gaming mentor at all or even other players for several years, but I was always looking for more gaming materials. I ended up getting the Moldvay expert set a while later and then the Mentzer expert set a few years down the road (my parents goofed and got me that instead of the companion set). During this whole time, I didn't have anyone else to play with but for some reason I continued to read, study, and build adventures and characters. It was finally four years later that I ran into another gamer in my extremely small town and we began to play AD&D. I definitely did not have a mentor, but I was pretty well prepared to be a DM when I finally started playing with other people.

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  20. I started playing Avalon Hill Wargames when I was 9 and saw D&D on the shelf one day just before my 11th birthday. Bought it, read it and taught myself (and others) how to play.

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  21. Definitely mentored. An older friend brought the original D&D on Boy Scout camping trips and taught us how to play. Later came V&V, Boothill, Top Secret, Melee, and Melee. Even though I had to stop playing with him eventually (he's a horrible power gamer to this day), I will be forever grateful to him for his initiation of me into the RPGing.

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  22. I guess I had two. My first experience was with my friends, who called me to their group when I got in their school. After that I had - unfortunately for brief moments - two older Forgotten Realms DMs who greatly influenced my way of DMing.

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  23. Mt big brother taught me to play. Main;y because his regular group was strictly fantasy, and he had bought Traveller at a gaming con.

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  24. I read the AD&D materials for about a year, then played for a year in a friend's campaign, then started DMing myself in a way that would be "better" and "more realistic" than my friend's game and ended up being un-fun after less than a year. Everything since then has been learning.

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  25. I guess I was lucky to have started with the Moldvay edition as my jumping-on point. I found the rules straightforward and easy to understand. I taught my siblings, which naturally, made me the DM in all the games I played from '81 until...now. Geesh!

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  26. Started in the late 90's with the revised AD&D2e books and never moved on or looked back. My "mentors" were some older friends who taught themselves how to play about a month before I started. Of course, we did many things wrong, chief among them were hit points. We interpreted the chart as meaning that at level 2, you rolled two hit dice, three at 3rd, etc.
    Consequently, by level four or five, my thief had 125 hit points and we eventually figured out that we were doing it wrong.
    I have the good fortune to still game with some of those guys.

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  27. A couple of my high school friends had played with some older kids at the local war game club. One of them bought Holmes Basic. They showed the rest of us how to play. We moved on to AD&D as it came out over the next couple of years. I had played Avalon Hill games for a few years, but I must say, when I borrowed the Holmes basic book before we played, I could not wrap my head around how to adjudicate movement and the like, it was too free form.
    I had only play hex and chit games; I think the guys that played miniatures had a leg up on understanding the rules. There was much less need to make rulings on the fly in hex and chit games. Movement of minis is not an exact science, nor is determining line of site. On the fly rulings, tend to lead to more on the fly rulings. In a miniature game, a guy may say, I want my guys to leave the tank and occupy the building for victory points. Something that would not occur to a hex and chit guy if there was not a rule for it.

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  28. I stared at Holmes until I figured it out. Not that I understood it, mind you, but I could at least roll dice and tell other players they were dead.

    I didn't really get a mentor until . . . oh, last year - when I started reading the OSR blogosphere. :)

    - Ark

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  29. Traveller was the game. No mentor. Graduated from that to AD&D. Still no mentor. And now? Still none, but mentored many.

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  30. I was 12 or 13 and I'd asked D&D for my birthday thinking it was some kind of fantasy wargame (I was an avid wargamer at the time). When I opened the box, I thought... 'Wot, no board? no counters?'

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  31. I can't explain how truly envious I am to everyone whose story starts with "I walked into a store and bought the thing." When I started, we had to comb over every hobby and book store for 50 miles to find D&D.

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  32. More or less mentored. I was our group's wargame-teacher, others were the RPG-teachers. I didn't really get into rules & rulings until I was out of college and DMing. (Earlier for some RPGs)

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  33. No guru, no method. A friend of my schoolmate's big brother had bought Holmes set 'because of the strange looking dice in the ad', but said mate and I, and later a couple more kids from our school, cracked it mostly by ourselves. The fact that none of us knew much english back then probably did not help, although it eventually did wonders for out vocabulary. Sure, we used charm person on shadows, who in turn got paralyzed by carrion crawlers, but we had fun, nevertheless. And almost all sessions began with a sort of troubleshooting, "You know that thing we did last time? Well, here's how it should have gone..."

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  34. Got the red box when I was ten and learned to play and run a game myself - incorrectly. I then mentored my friends on playing the games I ran - incorrectly.

    Four editions later, I still don't play the damn thing right.

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  35. I didn't have a mentor. I found OA and the 2e DMG in 1990 at age 5. It was all trial and error after that, and it would be almost 9 years before I met someone who had played before instead of me having to teach my friends how to play the game.

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  36. Primarily I will point to my blog post from November 2005.

    Not all of the folks mentioned there could be considered mentors, though perhaps all of them have mentored me in some way.

    I should also add Peter's older brother Sean who got him interested in D&D and contributed some direct commentary on gaming to us.

    Frank

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  37. Thank you for making this poll!

    I voted "no". Largely due to geography (rural Maine), I never knew anyone who hobby-gamed prior to myself. I got the Holmes D&D set for Christmas and was the person who introduced everyone else in my circle of friends and at school.

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  38. Figured it out myself, between Moldvay Basic, Cook/Marsh Expert, B2, B3 (with its "programmed" introductory portion), and X1.

    Lots of exposure to Choose Your Own Adventure books and things like Scott Adams' Pirate Adventure computer game may have helped.

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  39. The Red Box solo adventure was my "Mentor", does that count?

    TB

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  40. Yep. My friend Jeff, who lived in the house behind ours, invited me over to play Moldvay basic. He didn't understand that the players weren't supposed to see the map, or hear the "for the DM only" info, or know what magic items were when they picked them up. So we sat on either side of the Caves of Chaos & he read out the whole entry for each room. Which is how my lone cleric knew to cover his eyes before going into the room with the Medusa, onto whom he promptly jammed the Helm of Alignment Changing. Presto! Lawful-aligned Medusa henchwoman.

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  41. I clicked "yes." I started playing with grade school friends in 1979-80. We thought it was D&D, but it was not. When we got a hold of the PHB & DMG, we finally got the whole experience point thing.

    In 1983, a game store opened in our town. Jeff Drake was the owner (cool name!) and the store was "Games People Play." I immediately signed up to the Saturday evening AD&D game: "Quest for The Hammer." It was there that DM Charlie Presler, players Keith Hinke, Greg Younkers, and Tim Fitzhugh taught me the finer art of playing AD&D. There were other players, but those guys were the ones that started on the LBB and knew the game inside and out.

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  42. No mentor. Around '79 me and my friends got excited about the look of the new game going around (D&D) and so we all pitched in to buy the books... which were promptly handed to me to learn how to play. Thus, my role as DM became entrenched for a very long time...

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  43. No mentor - in fact, I learned mostly in a vacuum like a few other folks here. I was in sixth grade when I convinced my grandma to buy me the Holmes blue box (w/ B2) from K-Mart and I remember reading on the box that this would be fun for the whole family - in fact, that was part of my sales pitch to my grandma. I was never so disappointed as when I found that none of my family was interested in playing. Even among my peers (though it was a very small, rural school) I was the only one with passion enough to read all the rules so I did all the teaching and DM'ing all the way up to 2nd ed. I'm sure I got tons of the rules wrong but it was still a blast!

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  44. I got the 2nd Edition ADnD books in the early 90s, but it seemed so complicated. I understood the basics, but didn't know how to get started. I got a boxed set in 1994 that had a tan/brownish book with a picture of some guys fighting a big dragon with his hands on some rocks which was drawn by Easley and was called the Classic Dungeons and Dragons game. The first adventure was escaping from Zanzer Tem's Dungeon. Me, my brother, and my best friend had a blast playing it. That was my real introduction to actually playing the game. I grew up in the Bible belt out in the country so I was battling misconceptions about the game and a lack of people who would even want to play. I kind of had to learn from the box. I was the only guy who had any DnD stuff! I initiated two folks along with myself though. I still enjoy that version best. I have some of the older stuff too which I do use for ideas and rules from some times.

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  45. Taught myself how to play from the white box, and then taught everybody else...it was years before I encountered anybody who was introduced to the hobby through somebody else's group. I recently looked back through the three tan pamphlets, and I'm astonished that I ever figured it out enough to give it a try.

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  46. Red box solo adventure taught me how to play in 1985. I was 9. I became the DM for kids on my street growing up. We played mostly chaotic characters ranging from good to evil. In the few years after I got the red box set, there were definitely some Drizz't clone characters. On the whole, the style of play and flavor of the campaign worlds was influenced by Tolkien, R. A. Salvatore, all the Rose Estes 'Endless Quest' books, Star Wars, Stephen King's Gunslinger books and Piers Anthony (can't stand his corny Xanth books in retrospect, even less than Salvatore). Pretty typical stuff. Phillip Jose Farmer's Dungeon series (written by a series of different authors) was good to discover around this same time, and added something from somewhat less well-trodden imaginary grounds to the mix. If only I had known about Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, and Gene Wolfe, I would have devoured their work. I remember being into Fritz Lieber's section in Deities and Demigods, but in the days before Amazon.com living in rural Pennsylvania, never saw copies of his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser books.

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  47. My dad introduced me to the game, when we played with my uncles; a very family affair. I then went on and introduced it to school friends, my brothers and their friends.

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  48. Hehehe more like anti-mentors. The first several DM's I encountered helped me understand how I DIDN'T think it should be done.

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  49. I voted Yes, but the funny thing is that I probably should have voted No.
    when I started playing, I had already read Mentzer Basic and Expert and the 1e PHB and DMG before playing. The group I joined only had one guy who was familiar with the rules, and he didn't GM at first. Very soon, maybe 2nd session, the games typically became me and him explaining concepts to everyone else and setting the groundwork for how most of our games in any system would work all through high school. We were the two guys out of ten who always read the books. A couple other guys did read some, but usually just what interested them. (One of the other guys had owned a shelf full of GURPS books but never played until I invited him to a D&D session).
    The experience of actually playing was much better than reading the books alone. Thing is, even though most of the rest of our group had been playing months before I showed up, I was one of two people who ended up being the Answer Man from pretty much end of the first session I played on.
    I have no idea if any of that statement was relevant. Seems to be sort of tangential to the question...

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  50. I don't get this poll. Given that DnD is structured so as to have a "master" then isn't the question basically, did you start off as a player or a GM? Secondly, the way you've defined mentoring is turning to another for rule clarifications. I've been in the gaming scene (board, miniatures, RPGs, video, you name it) since the early 70's and getting rule clarifications from others is SOP, but I wouldn't term that mentoring...more like making use of the "hive mind".

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  51. I am self-taught, circa age 9, with the Moldvay Basic set. Everything I learned about killing PCs came from T.M.'s explicit examples.
    ; )

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  52. A friend told me what was D&D and explained a bit rpgs, but it sounds rather confused - he wanted me to got in a shop to buy minis, as going alone in town was difficult with his wheeelchair. So, I get interssted and get a red bix for my 12 birthday. But it was only later I played with him.

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  53. Traveller LBB in the original 3-box set.

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  54. I was mentored by Aleena, and a red box purchased from Otasco, over Christmas break in 1983. I was 13 and had been referred to the game by a female computer science teacher after she had noted my fascination with Zork on the TRS-80. And the (baby-blue-with-white-crayon-numbers) die was cast. I don't remember her name, and she could not possibly imagine how her words still echo in my life, and that of every person I referred/taught...and the lives of those that they referred/taught, and so on. I'd be remiss if I didn't praise Mom for remembering what I wanted and purchasing the right game -- not always a guarantee when RPGs were concerned.

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  55. AD&D 1st edition. Taught myself. I have my 5 year old brother calculating negative armor classes, and think of that every time someone whines about why we should use ascending AC.

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  56. No mentor, and it made learning how to play quite difficult from just reading the books as a kid.

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  57. I'll say yes because a veteran player opened my eyes to the full potential of an RPG after I'd played self-taught.

    Started D&D with the Holmes set (with chits!) that a friend owned. Our style of play was heavily influenced by a board game we spent a LOT of time playing, Dungeon!. So our idea of playing D&D was drawing maps of rooms connected by hallways, filling them with monsters to fight and loot to collect. We never played the module and had little notion of roleplaying a character.

    Since the Holmes box wasn't mine, I'd never read the rules cover to cover, and I've little memory of them. I bought my own copy of the new (at the time) Moldvay rules while visiting relatives in a city with better-equipped hobby stores than what we had back home. I found these rules well-organized and easy to understand. Reading The Keep on the Borderlands module clued me in to a more open-ended type of play.

    That Christmas I received the 1e PHB, which was now available in the Sears catalog. I found it too complex and held it as an item of mystery and wonder, suspecting that it contained some great power that my Padawan mind couldn't grasp.

    The following month the local university offered as part of its evening community classes an AD&D class! I was 13 and having an adult DM changed everything. Emphasis was on ingenuity, not brute force, and collaboration, rather the parallel style we'd played. It was V8 moment and I was hooked.

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  58. A fellow wargamer came back from a holiday in the US with a set of the white box LBBs, which we all borrowed in turn and immediately started designing fiendish dungeons (that had no actual outside world to speak of). Technically we had six "dungeonmasters" before any of us had an actual "player." It grew to about a dozen DMs and fifteen or so players (with varying degrees of enthusiasm). Two months later we all had our own sets of D&D and the first supplements as well.

    Rather than having separate campaigns we had one party of characters who would tackle each other's dungeons in turn. This was later formalised by the original party (who were not actually the original characters due to attrition [cf fiendish]) becoming actual masters of their own dungeons (each of which contained a vulnerabilty that could be used to defeat them) in a shared world (an island about the size of Madagascar). We decided on explicit rules for how this ultimate of treasures could be hidden in the dungeons.

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  59. Started with Moldvay Basic in December 1981; of my friends who played with me, I was the oldest, and had to figure it out mostly on my own. Then when I went to high school in Fall 1983, I discovered the Chesterton High School Dungeons & Dragons Club, sponsored by the anatomy and physiology teacher, Mr. Jim Strange (yes, our D&D sponsor was "Mr. Strange," very cool). He introduced the rest of us to the City State of the Invincible Overlord as well as the "proper" way to play D&D, which fixed a lot of odd glitches in the way we played (nothing wrong with style, mind you, or even house rules, but simply misunderstandings of the way certain rules worked). He was a great DM and brooked no nonsense... he even spent the money to have t-shirts made up for us and everything. And then in late Fall in my Junior year, some priest came in and convinced our principal that D&D was Satanic (late 1985), and that was all she wrote for the CHS D&D Club...

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  60. Yes, for about a month. Then he got tired of D&D, and left me to it.

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  61. When I was 9-years-old my mom bought me a basic set (the one with the Erol Otus cover art). She also paid a teenager from the neighbourhood to DM for my friends and I once a week.

    Yeah, my mom kinda rules.

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  62. Had a best friend in grade school that had a copy of the basic set. We figured out how to play together.
    He's also the one who later introduced me to the stories of H.P. Lovecraft and the Call of Cthulhu game at the same time. It seems most people find one or the other first.

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  63. I got started by playing computer role playing games. This led to the excellent Infinity engine games by Interplay. When I finally wanted to understand how all those weird numbers and ideas were supposed to work under the hood, I ordered the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (the 3rd Edition boxed set, while I was in high school) and borrowed the core rule books from the public library.

    Sadly, I was socially isolated and didn't connect with a gaming group until nearly a decade later. I spent the meantime reading gaming humor (KoDT, Fuzzy Knights, Order of the Stick, etc.) and geek-oriented websites so I could feel connected to roleplaying, even if I couldn't find fellow gamers in my community.

    Though I've always been interested in how things work and where they come from, it wasn't until 4th edition was released that I really dug into the history of D&D's evolution and began reading and playing by the earlier rules. I'm proud to say it was my influence which convinced the local Beginner's D&D DM to play 1e, which he like far, far more.

    The look on my players' faces, none of whom had played any roleplaying game except 4e, when they killed their first Orc, with a single hit, was priceless.

    "Ok, I hit him, how much damage did I do?"
    "Enough. He's dead."
    "No, really. How much damage did I do to him?"
    "He's dead. The Cleric is up next."
    "Ok, I keep my mace and shield up and ready while I walk up to the Orc and kick him. What happens?"
    "Absolutely nothing. The first shot killed him. He's lying on the cave floor with an arrow through his chest."
    "You mean it only needed one hit? And it wasn't some kind of special 'minion?' WOW!"

    So even though I never had a gaming mentor when I was learning the game, I've become a mentor to many other gamers and DMs, leading them back to the better ways of playing.

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  64. A high school teacher. He use to play with some pretty well known people and even use to contribute to A&E . He taught us how to be " good" players and not fall into the "montyhall" way of playing.

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  65. I just got curious one day and bought the "Das Schwarze Auge" basic rules. Learning the rules all by myself was rather frustrating at first (especially character creation is "slightly" more complicated than in D&D), but at least it allows me to udnerstand stuff like D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder without much problems - though the simplicity of older editions have quite a lot of charm ^^

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  66. Self-taught.

    One summer, a friend of mine received the Holmes set (with B2) as a gift. He couldn't figure it out, so he asked me to take a crack at it. I DMed for him for a while, but his enthusiasm waned, so he let me keep the game and I assembled a group of friends from my grade school, whom I still play with today.

    It took a few years of trial and error to figure out how to play AD&D "correctly" (i.e., as written); the process of improving it through house rules continues.

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  67. A friend at school had the D&D magenta set and ran a game for me. So I took the box home and ran my own game the next day, learning as I went along (and I am still learning even today!)

    Ahhh excellent memories

    http://thunderstonecampaign.wordpress.com

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  68. Johnny McEvil said: "The look on my players' faces, none of whom had played any roleplaying game except 4e, when they killed their first Orc, with a single hit, was priceless..."

    Great story, thanks for sharing! :-)

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  69. I learned to play c. 1979-80 from my father. He'd already taught me to play a few of his AH board games (Panzer Leader, Third Reich, etc.) when he was introduced to the game by a friend and neighbor of ours. A few sessions and my brother and I were off playing on our own.

    Just as an aside, I just saw a copy of "Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Ed. for Dummies" in the game section of Barnes & Noble, for what it's worth.

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  70. Yes... Scott Bizar of FGU, at the Waterloo Hobbies store in Stony Brook, NY.

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  71. Was introduced to Blue Book D&D through an 'advanced ed' class in Grade 6. Teacher ran 1 session, I borrowed the book, and the next week was DMing for everyone.

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  72. No - AIR I got the general idea age 11 from 'Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory RPG'. I was running a free friegspiel for my classmates before I met anyone else who'd played RPGs.

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  73. No mentors. I saw Red Box in a Waldenbooks and decided it looked like a cool game.

    I had previously plowed through all the John Carter, Conan, Tarzan and Pelucidar novels (nope, no Tolkien) they had, which is interesting, since going from pulps to D&D always seemed a proper progression to me somehow.

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  74. Bill Hoyt - Empire of the Petal Throne

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  75. Easter 1983. Steve Bruce, A school friend and Tolkien fan, came to stay with us while his family was in the throes of moving several hundred miles away. Ostensibly he was staying to continue schoolwork without the distraction and upheaval of the move, but he brought with him the Moldvay Basic box, and inducted myself, my brother, and another friend into the game.

    His dungeons were very much of the "Room 1: 2 gnomes; Room 2: 8 skeletons; Room 3: 5 bandits with a pet wolf" type. Fun but very random. He only stayed with us for a few weeks, but when he left my brother and I bought the Basic set and we took turns at DMing, and began to develop our own styles. Then we discovered White Dwarf.

    So my mentors included Moldvay, Gygax, and all the early TSR module writers and White Dwarf contributors. But Steve from school was the first, so cheers to you, Brucie, wherever you are.

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  76. 1978 - a school-mate of mine introduced me to the game - then on the day I was to begin playing with him and his group, he angrily quit the game forever when his character was killed by a booby-trapped treasure chest lock. So I joined up with a few other guys and played steadily until I met my girlfriend (now my wife of 24 years). I haven't play since then (1984). Just grew out of it, I guess, but my son now plays with friends at work and is an avid videogamer (and amateur developer).

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  77. I guess I had a mentor-- but maybe in the way that some kids have a father who's generally absent, and not up to much even when he is physically there.

    Meaning the first time I played was with an "experienced" DM at my 10th birthday party. The next few weeks, I read the books and saw there was so much he either didn't get or didn't bother to tell us.

    (Take that Eric Buch!)

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  78. I got the Holmes Box assuming it would be sort of like an Avalon Hill war-game. Brought it home, figured out as much as I could, and jumped in with my younger brother and some friends in the neighborhood. The friends got on board, and we basically taught ourselves to play. I DMed a lot early on, but the classic era of my gaming was actually as a player under one of those friends who had internalized the rules better than the rest of us. I should also say that one friend got the Monster Manual (I was incredibly envious), and then the PH, and finally after a long wait, the DMG. We layered AD&D onto the Holmes stuff.

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  79. the year was 1978 (or late 1977).

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  80. Our local hobby shop ran a learning campaign for a few weeks. My brothers and I liked it a lot. (In retrospect, the older guys in the group were pretty nice to us; but we were Very Serious kids who took the game Very Seriously.)

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  81. My brother got me Baldur's Gate for the PC ... What? It, y'know, presented the D&Disms very nicely, even if it was a computer game.

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  82. Back in the 78 we had a once-a-week class in D&D. It was three hours long and the class contained a sprinkling of kids from 3rd-5th grade. So my mentor was the teacher of the class.

    How cool is that? Public education has really gone down hill in the last few decades.

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  83. I answered the poll "Yes." I observed some OD&D gaming at various NY cons. I bought Dungeon and Snapshot, while my little brother bought Holmes. We both read through Holmes and played a little, but I didn't really get into playing until college. Joined a game there and learned how to play from the other guys.

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  84. Unfortunately no, but I sometimes wonder what my RPG experiences WOULD have been like if I'd had someone to oversee and assist me in playing a D&D campaign bitd(circa 1985). Sadly, I didn't get the chance to even play the Mentzer Set when I first was introduced to it(and RPGs in general). A friend brought the set to our middle school with him, invited me to come hang out during lunch and try something 'cool'.... I showed up, perused the strange books(neither I nor my family were influenced by intimations of 'devil worship', aimed at RPGs[AD&D mostly, it seemed] then surfacing in the media of the time) he'd brought, examined the funky dice, rolled my PC's stats, and then announced to him that I'd be playing an Elf(since I had carefully read the section on Classes, I knew I had the Ability Scores to do so), whereupon I was flatly told I COULDN'T choose this class, because I DIDN'T Qualify! :-/ I politely disagreed, but he insisted, against all evidence(even though I tactfully pointed out the pertinent passages in the Player's Book to him! :-/), that my choice was invalid, and then tried to persuade me to select a Fighter instead. Whereupon I decided I had enough of this nonsense and quietly left.

    Shortly thereafter, I was inspired by Ultima III(for a ruleset[classes/magic mostly, though I tried too tease out exact combat details...]), The Twilight Realm by Christopher Carpenter, and NES Faxanadu(together providing setting inspiration) to create my own D6 based homebrew campaign, so it was all to the good, imho. But without Mentzer's 'Red Box' and an obstinate and um, puzzled(?), friend I never would've got involved in RPGs.

    Oddly enough, about 3 months later, my friend began playing in MY games(his potential D&D game fizzled out...), and we've never had any serious miscommunication, angry words or any negative issues at all! The reasons behind the disallowal of my first potential PC in D&D remain a mystery to me: my friend has long since forgot the rationale behind our disagreement. :-D When I relate this story to someone, they usually shake their heads/scowl, and murmur about 'crappy GMs' and such, but he WASN'T the GM, he was just the guy whose parents bought the set! ;-)

    I've had plenty of players come and go in my ongoing campaign(s), and at least some have started running games of their own, so I hope I was effective in passing on the knowledge and art of the hobby... Of course, I'd also like to believe that my own experience hopefully goes to show genuine interest in and desire to play can minimize the damage of a potentially off-putting situation(of a minor sort, of course) and lead to a rewarding pastime.

    Great post on a subject I'm intrigued by as well!

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  85. I never had a mentor for RPG's. I had heard about RPG's from other people back when I was in grades 4 & 5, but never had the chance to play. I also saw the ads for D&D in comic books (they were like illustrations/comics themselves. I must admit they were crappy looking and never made me want to play them).

    I had always been a big fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books, Fighting Fantasy and the line of Find Your Fate books based off of the Bond film A View To A Kill.

    At that point, I had seen ads in Starlog for the Victory Games RPG James Bond 007. So, from there I got that book, read it and that was my first RPG, and had only the book to go by for understanding how to play RPG's. I only knew one other kid at the time who was interested in anything like this. So afterwards, we both ended up getting the Mentzer set, and I haven't looked back since.

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  86. First came across D&D at Tower Hill School in Wilmington, DE circa 1978. I was in 3rd or 4th grade at the time and there was a group of much older kids playing with books and dice and metal figures at a table during recess. I didn't know what was going on but it seemed really cool and magical and like a secret society or something. Got the basic set for Christmas, including B2, then moved quickly on to AD&D with the original PHB, DMG, MM. Also my older brother (all of 11 or 12 yrs old at the time) would create choose your own adventure style games for me on our TRS-80. Lord I'm gonna cry now...

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  87. No mentor here. A bunch of us 11 year olds played Holmes at a birthday party and butchered the rules.

    It still clicked and I have been gaming ever since.

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