This is part two of "Why I Love Fantasy." I left out some stuff last time, so I wanted to add more to get the full picture.
I guess I was around 13 when I started playing D&D. It was always sort of a "forbidden game" around my parts growing up in Mississippi. People thought it was about devil worship or some such. To me, it was just about being someone else for several hours a night. I remember we'd all gather over at a friend's house and have to wait until midnight to play for fear parents may drop a ban hammer on us. My first character I made was named Raxtar. I still remember this! He wielded a halberd (a long pole-arm) and probably wore splint mail because that had the best Armor Class at Level 1. I don't remember what Raxtar did in that first game, but I'm sure he did something cool.
Weekends were D&D time, plain and simple. At first, I was a player. The first major campaign I remember involved us being sucked out of the real world into a sort of alternate reality fantasy world. We spent many a night hunched over a kitchen table, rolling dice and trying to keep one friend who was a "little too loud" quiet.
As I got older, I became the DM of my group and we had an ever-rotating cast of characters. The main PCs in my game were a thief, a necromancer, and a warrior. Throughout my game I had several others rotate in and out, but those three were the main ones. I always tried to make things that happened in my game seem important, so that the characters were emotionally invested in some way. The way I did this was by using the old standard "this person is your brother/sister/mother/father." It's sort of a natural way to connect someone by blood.
I had my PCs in a place called the United Orc Republic. A place ironically named because there were no orcs there. Just a sinister army called the Black Horde. The Black Horde were both evil and cool, so they had an appeal on various levels. When my PCs fought someone, it usually meant something. But I had a lot of memorable "random" encounters. A bugbear with a yellow curtain draped over his neck, a group of strangely named assassins (Akanaka Blacka), "shadow guys," tech-mages, robotic death knights, basilisks, an orc named "Butt" and many others. In any case, my D&D game ended around the time I started college and never really picked back up from there. I have played on and off since then, but nothing captured the magic from age 13-18.
It was amazing how much I missed out on "real life" during that period. But it's also amazing how I don't really regret it either, because those were awesome times. I didn't have girlfriends really or have an interest in sports outside playing soccer off and on. D&D was my passion. I remember sitting at K-Mart in the stock room doodling pictures and planning games for the weekend sessions. Something that linked me to wanting to become a writer later on. My PCs were my audience, and I'd do whatever I could to hook them, to entertain them, to get them wanting more. One day I thought, "What if I could do that for more than three or four people?"
Thus, my love for writing was born.
I sometimes think back and wonder what my life would have been like if I never rolled that first d20. I think it would have been a lot less interesting, that's for sure.
Part III coming soon, in which I'll discuss video games.
Any memories of your D&D (or other game) days?