I think it was in fifth grade. I’m horrible with the school part of this. I’ll probably have to come back and edit later. The year was 1984, and i got a book at Christmas that changed everything. The place was a town called Solace. If you looked in the boughs of an ancient Vallenwood tree there, you’ll find a renowned place of respite called the Inn of the Last Home. A couple old friends, Tanis, Sturm, Caramon, Raistlin, Flint, and Tasslehoff, all made good on a promise to reunite five years after taking the world of Krynn by storm in their own fashions. The rest my friends, is the stuff of legends.
At this same time, for the last few years I had been immersed in a few old books that someone, and to this day I’m not really sure, had gotten tired of. These tomes ended up in my grubby little hands probably around ’82 or so.
I’d been reading these, along with some other books that were passed around, for quite awhile. But it was always in my bedroom, or maybe stowed away on the couch in the living room, by myself. I inventoried every room in that Keep countless times. I put together quite few groups of traveling adventurers that would make their way back and forth between the stronghold and the Caves of Chaos. How many times can one group fight a minotaur? Countless times my friend, countless times if he keeps scaring them off with his horde of goblin buddies.
But one day in that fifth grade class, we all got a blank sheet of white paper we had to tape to our desks. On that paper, we were supposed to write our name, so we could all go around and learn each other’s names. Then around our names, we were told to put things on there that we enjoyed, what we liked to do to have fun.
I can’t remember everything i wrote on there that day, but I do remember one thing. I put a little Dungeons & Dragons doodle on there. Pretty sure it was also accompanied by my best rendition of a longsword. Then when were all done, we taped them to our desks, and got the chance to walk around the classroom and introduce ourselves to our cohorts that were going to help us navigate the treachery of Mrs. Harris-Kellum’s fifth grade adventure in the cavernous halls of Lake Tract elementary school.
I do remember going around and trying to be funny, but there also wasn’t a ton i could relate to. I wasn’t very good at sports, though I was a fan by osmosis due to it always being on the tv in my house. I wasn’t hip to the music of the day. My sister, eight years older than me (so i guess maybe 16 at the time) was enjoying the midst of MTVs heyday, had the market on that, high Jersey hair full of Aqua Net and all that jazz. I couldn’t dance, and girls were still yucky then. Though if you found yourself thinking of one, it was best practice to punch her in the arm to let her know she was cool.
Just as I was finishing my arduous lap of interrogation, I was stopped in my tracks by a desk not far from mine. John was his name, and his paper had it all. Bats, I think there were a few swords, something about Dracula, and then there it was. It wasn’t just an ampersand, it was THE ampersand. The D&D one. I quickly put my hands in pockets and glanced down at my shoelaces, giving my sneakers the move to put a quick tap to the legs of his desk. ”Hey man, you like D&D too?”. It was as good an intro as I could think of really. I was trying to contain my excitement. D&D was a blast, so much fun to my imagination, but all of the sudden it dawned on me. What was D&D like with two people? Or a group of kids for that matter? Were there others like me that would want to spend a few hours getting their heroes dressed up in some plate mail armor, grabbing a shield, a longsword, supplies, and head out into the caves? Would they want to help me try to track down that pesky hermit we keep hearing about who lives in a tree somewhere in the marshes?
John did in fact love D&D. By bike ride he lived about a half hour away, which was a pittance for the opportunity to play D&D with someone else. John had many more books than I did, AND he wanted to be the Dungeon Master! SOLD! Thus began my foray into in the Atlan Tepe Mountain region in northern Karameikos, the wonderful world we dorks know of as Mystara. John and I quickly became good friends. On the weekends we’d start early on Saturday morning upstairs in his bedroom, on the second floor where his room was festooned with works I’d never heard of but would soon come to love. Who was this Steve Jackson, and how or why did he have so many cool games? What was that under the TV, a Nintendo? We had no idea that in just two years, some game called Castlevania would come out a sap away a good half of our D&D time as we tried valiantly as Simon Belmont to take down Dracula and all of the undead denizens of his haunted world.
So this is a good start for now I think. I don’t have a clue just where this blog is going, but I just wanted to get some practice, get it started, and have some fun! I really hope you come along for the ride friends!