In a way, my first D&D experience was the old Gold Box games... I think Treasures of the Savage Frontier was the first one I played, around the time I was 7?
For actual tabletop experience, it was AD&D 2nd ed. I think I was 13 or 14 at the time... about the age when you think naming your fighter "John Little" and your wizard "Willi Am" is clever.
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Summer of 1980 age 19 while working as a camp counselor in Maryland. AD+D first edition with house rules.
Said campaign ended with a TPK at the hands of a cursed berserking sword. This back in the days when the offical rule was dead at zero hit points and -10 was an optional change. My DM of course, used the original rule.
I'm another one who started as a wee tadpole not yet out of his first decade in life. My first D&D stuff was the 1981 basic set with the iconic Erol Otus artwork on the cover, quickly followed by the soon-to-be released red boxed set and eventually the AD&D hardback books you used to be able to buy in Toys R Us for $9.99 each...
|Jiggy RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32|
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I might have already posted this, but...
My first experience with pen-and-paper RPGs actually came before I even knew they existed.
In my youth, my first exposure to any sort of RPG was, if memory serves, Super Mario RPG on the Super Nintendo back in the 90s. My brothers and I liked playing it, but my parents only allowed each of us 45 minutes (later upgraded to an hour) per week of video game time. So, we looked for ways to do what we loved outside of that limit.
So my little 8-10-ish year old self examined the character statistic screens, compared that data to observable results within the gameplay, and did some experimentation in order to backwards-engineer the roles the various stats played in determining the results of actions in combat. (Remember, this was before the Internet Age; you couldn't just go online and find a wiki that contained explanations of every formula and mechanic in the game.)
My memory's a bit fuzzy, but as best as I can remember, it went like this:
You had four stats: Attack, Defense, Magic Attack, and Magic Defense. Having a weapon equipped added to your Attack. Having armor (and some accessories) equipped added to your Defense and Magic Defense. Damage-dealing spells had a "Spell Power" number that was basically used for the same role as a weapon, but boosting Magic Attack instead of Attack, and only applying the boost for that action, not permanently.
Whenever you attacked (or cast a damaging spell), you would compare your Attack (or Magic Attack) to their Defense (or Magic Defense). Assuming the attacker's stat was higher, the difference was dealt in HP damage. If the attacker's stat was lower, the damage was 1. Attacks/spells came with near-perfect accuracy that didn't seem to be affected by stats at all; stats just calculated damage.
The game also included a system of "timed attacks" in place of crits, giving you extra damage if you pressed the button at a certain time (which you had to pin down yourself; there was no prompt). My theory was that a successful timed attack doubled your Attack (or Magic Attack) stat for that move. Against early enemies (with a Defense close to 0) this basically translated to double damage. Later, when more of your Attack is being eaten up by enemy Defense, the final damage gap is wider. (For example, if your Attack is 38 and enemy Defense is 13, you would normally deal 25 damage. If you got the timed attack, this would double your Attack to 76, resulting in you dealing 63 damage; well more than double your unmodified 25.)
I could never verify if I was getting all that right, but it seemed to stand up to testing (what little testing I was able to do, without knowing enemy stats).
So! Once my brothers and I had a working structure for the game, we could put in a little prep work (making stats for characters and monsters) and be able to sort of play the game without violating our weekly limit of Nintendo time.
Of course, there were snags. For one thing, we had to invent a new means of determining timed attacks. So we found a digital stopwatch that tracked time down to hundredths of a second. We'd start it up, then try to stop it as close to the :00 mark as possible. If you got within a certain range (I think we settled on :90-:10, or something like that) then you got the timed attack bonus. If not, then it was a normal hit. We basically ignored misses, IIRC.
We also eventually realized that, when you're tailoring your own fights instead of having a self-existent set of challenges to overcome, leveling up (and upgrading equipment, for that matter) becomes pretty meaningless. Similarly, if all your fights are just straightforward attack/defense back-and-forths, then things get really repetitive and dull as you just perform the same basic actions over and over. (Some very experienced GMs still haven't grasped this, interestingly enough. For us it was just hitting a stopwatch as close to :00 as we could, over and over again until we'd done it enough times to win. For many GMs, it's just making d20 rolls over and over again until the party has done it enough times to win.)
And then finally there's the fact that the real game gains a lot from the story and setting and interesting characters. Although we made characters as well (even picking their homes from the video game's setting!), having just a string of combats was a little dull.
But still, the experience of exploration was fun. (You might call it my first game design project!) Imagine my shock when I learned that there were actual professionally-made paper RPGs with entire books full of rules. And that you could just roll dice to set up your math, instead of stressing out with that friggin' stopwatch. ;)
I started pen & paper roleplay fairly later in life, around the age of 19 I believe. Before that I'd done a bit of live action stuff when I was 17 but the total obsession of collecting & rolling dice came after that.
World of Darkness (Mage: The Ascension) was my first pen and paper, followed by Warhammer Fantasy.
Now I play a mix of Pathfinder, D&D 5e, World of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds.
It was around 1997 or 98. I can't remember if that single lunch-break session of 1st edition came first, or reading the Dragonlance books (Dragons of Autumn Twilight) and then getting the old gold box SSI Champions of Krynn game. Either way, my first ever "game session" was a 1st edition AD&D game, and then I purchased my own set of core 2nd edition AD&D books in 1998. I graduated at almost 18 in Spring 1999.
I can get a little hazy when it comes to years. I can be a bit surprised when I think about if I had a kid right after graduating high school, they would be graduating high school in the spring.