Thursday, February 20, 2014

A trip down memory lane... D&D 40th Anniversary...

As many others have already blogged, its the 40th Anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons...

Jeez doesn't time fly when you are having fun!

Like many others, my first introduction to gaming was via the red box set of D&D, sometime in the early 80s, as a pre-teen... hard to remember exactly now...

I remember being somewhat intimidated by the amount of stuff I had to read to figure out how to play the game initially, and picked up the slimmest book first ( the Keep on the Borderlands scenario), thinking that would be the easiest to get to grips with... oops... OK try having a go at the rulebook...

I had a great little set of mates that we played the game with, and worked our way through the red box missions and on through the Blue Expert set, through our teenage years...

The Keep on the Borderlands, was an excellent simple 'Dungeonbash' introduction, and many more great scenarios followed, eagerly bought at the games store.

A great start to RPG Dungeon bashing

Hoggy was our DM, me, Dickie, Mike and Roger the players...

At this time I also started collecting TSRs Grenadier figures but then discovered the much nicer Citadel miniatures at a quirky little 'GamesShop' (the forerunner of GW) located then in the Central Arcade in Newcastle Upon Tyne... it later moved to Pilgrim Street adjacent the Fire Station, then moved again to Clayton Street, where I think it still currently resides? [Another shop used back then for such gaming  supplies was Beatties (A hobby/model/ model railroad shop) on Pilgrim street - a forerunner to ModelZone?]

But back then the 'GameShop' was a treasure trove of varied miniatures, games and gaming magazines...

I started painting these models and self taught myself how, mostly through trial and error, starting with smelly Humbrols Enamels (discovered from my airfix model plane times), before finding acrylic paints... and starting to read WD and the then Citadel Journal, I picked up many tips to improve my painting...

TSR / Grenadier miniatures - my lead pile begins ;-)

Of course with RPG-ing, you never have all the right models you need and are constantly proxying or using counters. I recall once we came across a dragon, and a large china dragon ornament was quickly pressed into service! It was probably about the right scale too! Great times...

We spent several years playing together as a group, through our teenage years, and progressed to AD&D,  and the World of Greyhawk (I had the large map up on my teenage bedroom wall for years and endlessly poured over it, wondering who lived where),  until serious exam study became important, and then sadly, splitting up after school, to varying colleges and universities...


... and the World of Greyhawk. 

We stayed loosely in touch, though adult life; marriage, kids, jobs, and moving, round the country/world has somewhat got in the way now... yet I still look back on these halcyon days where it all started, with fond memories...

Some years ago, I tried to get back into into AD&D, but was bamboozled by the array of Editions and Realms now available. I got the 3.5Ed books, but it just didn't really get off the ground and I sold them all off...

These days I just don't have the time for RPG-ing; and trying to find a group of adults who can meet regularly for a campaign to have any chance of running successfully, has always been a tricky one...

Plus, I find being a DM requires a lot more background work to get it going and set it all up and run it, and I just don't have the time, I was always more a player than a DM/GM. Now I have far too many miniatures to get painted and terrain to make for the various wargames I enjoy now, to devote the required time as a DM...

I'd make a reasonably good player, depending on your style of RPGing (I'm not too good at 'acting & accents' though),  just not sure I could commit the regular time to a group..., ah well, things and times change, and I am happy as a wargamer these days...

I still keep my ears and eyes open though, for any Middle-Earth themed RPG games, as this is the one realm I'd love to fully immerse myself in... I got the basic MERP set many years ago (Purple box), but having come across it during my studies never had the chance to develop it further, or really get it started...

MERP - loved the cover art

At about this time GW were producing a MiddleEarth Range of figures and I collected many of these, now long since sold off...

The aged battered box from long storage still sits on my hobby library. Many years later, I then got the Decipher set of books, but again this came to naught, though I still have them... apparently the game folded when authors wern't getting paid for their work on the books (that's the rumor I heard), not sure whether they still have the licence...

Decipher - looked to be the real deal...

Recently I have become aware of "The One Ring - Adventures over the edge of the Wild", which has had good reviews, and I was sorely tempted to buy in...

TOR - close, but no cigar

... but it uses an abstract Combat system where miniatures and floor plans are not really required, and that's part of RPG-ing I enjoyed, so I have held off this purchase...

However, I digress, and back to D&D, I must say congratulations on this 40th anniversary milestone, and thanks to Mr Gygax et al, for starting me, and clearly many others, off into this wonderful gaming hobby... long may it continue...

... oh and if Hoggy, Dickie, Mike and Roger stumble across this, I hope you're all well!



  1. Good memories. Started with the Red Box with the Dragon on the gold horde.
    Not a role player now but a wargamer instead.

  2. Interesting history, Scott. I'm a relative newcomer to gaming - and primarily historicals at that, so this is quite a good background for me. Best, Dean

    1. Worth a try if you get the chance Dean, just to try it on for size... it can be a lot of fun with the right crowd...

  3. I too started with D&D (although before the Red/Blue editions came out) . . . and I still think that those early editions of D&D are much superior to ALL of the AD&D versions that came out afterwards.

    AD&D in all of its forms (including the new D&D) became too obsessed with "exactness" and forgot too much about "imagination".

    I too moved on to the wargames table top (and also have far far too many figures in my "lead pile") . . . but like you I look back with fondness on those early days.

    Thanks for sharing the memories, sir . . . and let those funny dice roll in our remembrances.

    -- Jeff

    1. Thanks for your insights Jeff... I concur, I think there was a simple charm to the Basic/Expert sets... I think later AD&D/D&D"xyz"ed's simply had so much info to grasp and tabulate they became rather off putting...

  4. Started with AD&D as 13 years olds we thought basic was for kids and were were "adults". Trying to figure out high Gygaxian was a bit of a pain but sure helped my exam results! What the hell did loquacious mean in the traits table?

    Been playing in a group since I moved to Timmers (2000-onwards) and before that with my mates from 83-1996. Burned out of 3rd really quickly and turned to Castles & Crusades as soon as that was released. We dabble with the "Old school" books now an then and have a hankering to run a 1E game again soon but we mainly use C&C as our core game as it suits our purpose. The beauty of gaming for us is chilling out and the interactions that come out round the table top- some nights, such as the past Tuesday, we spend the entire night in stitches with the mayhem we think up.

    I have made some great friends thanks to Gygax & Arnson. My son (12) is now joining our regular group so hope he too finds a pastime that, unlike x box, fires the imagination.


    1. Must confess, as a single bloke in my mid to late 20's I did stumble across another great bunch of guys, and I enjoyed weekly RPG sessions as a player, in a fantasy game where the DM had tweaked the Ruequest rules to his own liking... we enjoyed this for a couple years until home PC's became more the desired plaything at the time... and we then started taking our PC's to one guys house and connecting them all there to the same network, to play games like DOOM and Duke Nuke 'em together... but invariably the network would crash and we'd spend most of the evening trying to get that to work...

      Nice to hear you're still able to chill out and enjoy this gaming experience these days.... especially involving your son!

  5. I can't say I ever had the proper opportunity to play a roleplay game properly as a teenager our gaming group at school wasn't mature enough to sit down and play one out properly which was a shame.

    I think I've missed the boat on this one I'd love to try one out but lack the time or more importantly the players to join and play as I'd be a complete novice lol.

    I do love the books though and having read through the first version feel kind of gutted that we missed out.

    Aww well theres hope yet plus Otherworld are releasing there rules!

    1. Must admit, finding an RPG group that becomes a good bunch of mates together, with a good DM & GamesSystem is an experience hard to beat...

  6. Cool post.

    A friend of mine got the D&D box for xmas in 1979, and didn't know what to make of it, so let me have it on the condition that I run it for him.

    Our first adventure was the B1, In Search of the Unknown. Still remember trying to work out what to put in that first 10*10 alcove. Probably an orc with a +1 sword.

    Remember trying to save a pound a week so I could afford the AD&D core books. Remember I finally got the Players Handbook, and took it to our RPG club (which was just a loud, mad table at the local wargames club) and some git nicked it.

    Now I write RPG stuff for money, so not an entirely wasted youth. :)

    1. Great memories... good to hear you can earn a penny or two at it too these days!

  7. Great post, Scott. I have not rolplayed for many, many years, but I am now begining to dungeon bash with my children.

    1. Good to hear Emilio - get the next generation interested and away from the electronic gadgets...

  8. My heart skips a beat every time I see that red box. Now, I have the pleasure of playing with those same guys I played with long ago, except now the kids are involved too. I even keep a blog of our their exploits.
    Because of that Keep on the Borderlands cover, to this day my orcs tend to be red or brown, not GW green.

    1. Great to hear Baron, especially with the next generation joining in too.
      I concur, not all orcs are green!

  9. I've never crossed the road of the games when I was young... except if we consider that playing with little soldiers -including lot of AIRFIX and ATLANTIC figures - is not a game !

    It's when I've refind a box of figures (mainly cowboys and Indians!) in my parents attic that I've came back to them and then started to buy/collect and then to paint minis!

    It's always quite moving to read posts about childhood and youth times ... Thanks Scott !

    1. Thanks for your memories Sam - I too spent my early youth with Airfix toy soldiers....

  10. I grew up on D&D too, which really brought a love of gaming. Back when computer games weren't that cool, you really did have fun hanging out together around a table. We have done a bit of D&D as a group over the years and you are right about being DM, but if you do get the background work done, you can achieve lots of fun. The combat mechanic with D&D 4e is fairly cumbersome and people get bored taking an hour or two to kill something.

    1. RPGing is such a social event, I don't think being glued to a computer screen, even with the online chat it may contain, can ever compare...
      I guess sometimes simple is best, and D&D has become over complicated over the years?

  11. This article brought back some memories of the 12 year old me making my pilgrimages from Sunderland to Newcastle back in 82 to get my hands on the latest modules

    1. Ha, who knows we might have bumped into each other in the store! 12 in 82? Me too!


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