Saturday, January 23, 2021

Lich van Winkle asks - How did you start?

This post asks how you started gaming.

I've posted about this before, but for posterity on my own blog, here are my answers:

1. The year you began, and with which role-playing game

1. 1981, Basic D&D and AD&D. See #2.

2. Did you figure it out alone, or were you introduced by a lone but experienced GM, or by joining a preexisting group?

2. Two teens, sons of my mom's friend, taught me to play. They ran me with a mix of my D&D set and AD&D, which they played. I subsequently went right to AD&D but played with a weird mix of partially understood rules.

3. What was your first group like? Was it private among friends, in a game store, or in a club? Were they older, younger than you? Did their style of play shape the way you played later?

3. I assembled a lot of like-minded 4th graders and we played. We frequently fragmented into other groups. No one outside our immediate grade played with us. My first mixed-age group was in Junior High when a kid one year older played with us.

4. Your favorite role-playing game. (Was it the game you started with?)

4. GURPS. Not what I started with.

5. Anything else you want to share reflecting the impact of how you started on how you play(ed).

5. I think the weird mix of rules, and frequent rules arguments by kids who half-remembered the rules, heavily influenced my Rule Zero-heavy play style and rules writing style. Also, my general wariness playing with other gamers, as opposed to playing with friends who like to game. Later experience didn't cure me of that.

What about you guys? Submit your answers over at his blog, but you can copy them into my comments if you want my opinion on your experience. Heh.


  1. Thanks, Peter. And I hope that it won't be just guys 45-55 years old responding to my little survey. I want to hear from younger players!

  2. Also posted over there:

    1. Somewhere around 1984 or 1985, Basic D&D (Frank Mentzer, I believe). Pretty much after reading the Hobbit, which I think was 5th or 6th grade.

    2. Formally, through a PTO-sponsored Saturday morning extracurricular group/club; they had rocketry, various crafts, etc., and also had D&D. I think that was January of 5th or 6th grade. The DM, as I recall, was a high school kid. I played an Elf. The next year, they had the same club, and I played AD&D as a human druid.

    3. The first “group” of any sort was the club, and I played with friends as well. However, in high school, I met up with a bunch of older kids (about 5-7 years older than me) from my summer job and played with that group in a pretty sustained campaign for a good period of time. They probably had some effect how I played, but it was not defining as it evolved over the course of 30+ years.

    4. GURPS. It was not what I started with. I still enjoy D&D, and 5th edition is fun, but I prefer the less abstract combat of GURPS, particularly the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. The customization was very important to me as well. I really liked AD&D 2nd Edition’s Player’s Option book, which allowed you to mess around with classes and races, IIRC, which led to the possibility of a more customized class. The lack of defense rolls in D&D has always irked me.

    5. It’s hard to say how much those early years influenced later gaming; not much, I think. I have good memories from them (bits and pieces here and there), but they are scattered and involved several groups with very different play styles. Looking at it a bit differently, I never played in a group where you had to watch your back, where other players were rivals or couldn’t be trusted, and just having knowledge of such groups’ existence probably defined how I play today. I much prefer the collaborative aspect of role-playing games to other games where you compete against friends and family (Monopoly, Munchkin, Catan, etc.). Those games can be a lot of fun as well, but I prefer games where you work with people rather than trying to screw them over.

  3. Also posted over there:

    1. Somewhere around 2007-2009. I don’t think I actually started playing until 2008/2009 but I was rolling up characters with my dad and my uncle around ’07.

    2. My Dad (who also commented here) has been playing for years and probably started my younger brother and I as soon as we were old enough to understand the rules and probably right around when I read the Hobbit and immediately watched the Lord of the Rings movies after. We started with the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5E starter set. I remember playing as the pre-rolled character Regdar (Redgar?) who was a Human Fighter and I especially remember rolling terribly a bunch of times during our first session to the point where to this day when I roll poorly my brother still asks if my character attended “The Regdar School of Sucking.”

    3. I played with my dad and my brother and my uncle for the first years that I played. My dad was the GM in my first 4-5 campaigns. I think that this group did impact my playstyle a fair amount as I was always drawn towards wizards because of the magic, but eventually settled in comfortably into the “Controller” roll because of the strategy aspect which helped our group. I still play with this group and I’ve played a wizard in most of the campaigns with that group.

    4. GURPS/Dungeon Fantasy RPG. It wasn’t what I started with and I was hesitant when I started around 3-4 years ago because I had always loved D&D but I knew DFRPG was my new favorite within a couple of months. The high customization it probably what drew me in the most. I never liked to play fighters in D&D because it always felt like there were about 15 different possible fighter builds and they didn’t feel unique. With DF, it seems near infinite in the amount of ways to build a knight.

    5. I think that starting by playing a Wizard and “Controller” type characters early on set up the playstyle that I eventually adopted. Having to learn rules about how magic worked and what you could and couldn’t do at a relatively young age set me up to better understand things like puzzles and tactics. In my current game with my original group, I play a very stingy wizard who doesn’t like to use too much fatigue when he doesn’t need to. Sometimes, for combat that means figuring out what type of attack, if costly would be a good way to dramatically shorten the fight to prevent using more fatigue down the line (the answer is often explosive lightning for the stunning aspect). I think the controller style play also played a part in my becoming a GM myself. I ran a couple of One-Shot adventures when I was in college and currently run my own DFRPG campaign. Later play with other players who played wizards has also impacted a degree of my playstyle.


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