My job has been exceptionally busy over the last few weeks and as a result I have had very little opportunity to write anything for the Blog or paint anything for the Analogue Challenge. I'm still very busy but I am slowly getting to grips with my suddenly increased workload and hopefully things will return to some sort of equilibrium over the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping to have a new entry for the Challenge by the end of the week (I've already submitted my Casualty bonus entry) and I am trying to catch up on the huge back load of Blog Posts that I haven't had a chance to read. I'll get there eventually, but it may take a couple of weeks!
One event that almost passed me by unnoticed was the 40th anniversary of the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game. My own involvement with this game started over 30 years ago when I was about 12 or 13. I was first introduced to D&D through a friend - after a very brief apprenticeship in fantasy gaming through the Fighting Fantasy solo gaming books by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. It was a short step from these adventure books to proper roleplaying when I and some of my friends bought the now famous Frank Mentzer 'Red Box' rulebooks. We played the sample scenario given in the Dungeon Masters booklet and I still vividly remember my first combat victory against a Carrion Crawler. My character was a stereotypical Barbarian hero called Vulcan the Slayer (facepalm!) and that first game was a simple monster bashing adventure, but I loved it, and I was instantly hooked for life.
|D&D Red Box - My Introduction to Adventure|
This was also the time when I painted my first model - a Knight in black armour with gold edging - using the only paints I had available at the time, some Humbrol enamels. It was an awful paint job but at the time I was very proud of it. I was one of only a handful of player's to use a fully painted miniature in those early games and although the techniques and materials I use have changed a lot since then, I still hold true to the principle that I never game with naked metal! Unfortunately that first mini was lost a long time ago and its only now I look back and wished I had realised that this was a special possession marking the start of a lifelong hobby. I can't remember where I even bought the model, but back then there seemed to be plenty of small independent games shops to choose from.
|A picture of me before I became 'BigLee' circa 1985|
(clearly 'Selfies' are not a new phenomenon!)
Most of the group have run games over the years and I have twice adopted the role of Dungeon Master for short campaigns. This picture shows me preparing for a game sometime around 1985. We were still using the red box 'basic' rules at the time but we had also bought the Blue 'Expert' box and the Black 'Master' boxes as they became available. I would happily spend hours planning out huge underground complexes, stocking them with all manner of monsters, traps and treasures.
Most of the time we would create our own 'dungeons' but we would also reach for inspiration in the pages of Dragon magazine and even the earlier editions of White Dwarf. One such dungeon complex I developed was based on an article in WD43 called The Hive of the Hrrr'l which featured creatures called the Flymen. I expanded the original maps into a huge complex of rooms and chambers which kept us busy for many many weeks. In later years, using the 3rd edition rules I designed an entire world setting called The Isles of Ethos and my players fought their way through two long story arcs before we moved on to the 4th Edition rules.
|Nearly all the members of my first D&D group are |
Over the years many of my early gaming buddies have moved on and moved away and as far as I know I'm the only one still playing with toy soldiers on a regular basis. But although we are not gaming on a regular basis most of us still keep in touch - through the wonders of social media - and we still occasionally gather for an impromptu board game or one off RPG game. I credit the strength and endurance of our friendships entirely down to the hours we spent 'adventuring' together as young adults. Yes we were socially awkward geeks but through the enduring power of collaborative roleplaying games like D&D we became slightly less socially awkward adults... and I wouldn't trade a minute of it for anything else.