My first role-playing experience was not a very good one. During high school, I spent the first year mostly unattached to anyone else. I was in the marching band despite having no interest in music or actually devoting time to practicing that instrument and my only attempt to contribute meaningfully to a conversation led to me becoming known as obsessed with Nintendo’s ROB the Robot. In all fairness, that became well deserved, and is a story I will tell another time. If I had been more in control of myself, I would have probably quit marching band after that year to pursue some sort of thespian pursuit but I needed the easy A the class provided. Anyway, halfway through the year, I joined up with the Sci-Fi Club (which was simply a re-branded Star Wars Club which I joined for reasons which, too, will be explained at a later date) and for the remainder of my freshman year I was at least in a club. Towards the end it felt like I was actually starting to know people, and during sophomore year, things really started to take shape. Junior year, however, almost proved to be that club’s undoing and the culprit was easy to finger: the introduction of Dungeons and Dragons.

For several months, every single meeting was taken up by the Dungeons and Dragons session that I refused to participate in because that was the hill I had chosen to die on. I would sit by myself in the corner and page through old Star Wars magazines while they played their game, and I was unable to screw up the courage to try to fix anything. Eventually, though, I joined in as a Gnome illusionist and later convinced them to at least devote one meeting a week to non-D&D pursuits, at least for a little while. The only problem with this situation was that we had at least seven people crowded around the moderator’s desk, all of them unruly young men who were usually working at cross-purposes and none who had really bothered to learn a lot of what the third edition of Dungeons and Dragons had to offer.

My particular cliche should have been fleshed out far more but wound up being a wizard who was mostly inept and wound up attracting a ferret as a familiar who was possessed by B’haal. No one liked him and he wound up spending an epic battle running away from it. This ended up working out because he was tossed a magic book to keep safe, but the campaign ended unceremoniously and I created a new character that was a halfling druid with a propensity for collecting animals. No one liked him, either.

Despite that experience of more than half a dozen people all trying to kill things and game the system (or, in my case, not die) I kept trying to play Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games. Eventually I would just start creating campaigns and getting my friends to play, but that usually only lasted a session or two. I even tried to make my own systems which never worked and there was only one campaign that ever got completed, but that, too, is a tale for another time.