Day 1 --
The year was 1985 -- Back to the Future, The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Commando, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, European Vacation, Brazil, Rambo II, Rocky VI. Average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.09, postage stamps were 22 cents, the average movie theater ticket price was $2.75. Ronald Reagan, the great "communicator" was President of the United States and Mikhail Gorbachev replaced Konstantin Chernenko as Soviet leader. GI Joe and Transformers were still in their first run, my little sister was annoying me with my little pony, cabbage patch kids and carebears. In short it was full on 1980s ... Duran Duran, Dire Straights, Madonna, Phil Collins ... my birthday was on a Monday that year :(
1985 was a damn good year though all in all and one of the main reasons that was ... I was introduced to D&D for the first time. The Frank Mentzer iconic "Red Box" in all its Elmore-ic glory pulled me in. How could I resist that single set of old school color the numbers in dice that we all had to share. The set was such an object of mystery and wonder.
The first person to introduce me to D&D was my friend Jeff (a friend and classmates older brother). I was just one of his little brothers friends, until one weekend I was spending the night over at their house and somehow in conversation I mentioned I liked the hobbit and I had read the Lord of the Rings. Bear in mind I was 10 years old (I really had fully read both of those works, I can't say I fully understood them, but every page I had conquered!) so he was sort of shocked, and he being the worldly 13 years old ... well ... it was pretty awesome to have something in common.
That prompted him to invite me to play in his weekly D&D game. Which paved the way for his younger brothers Brian and Nolan to also get a seat. He'd be running a game for one or two of his friends and he wanted to expand the game and the party.
It was to date probably the most fun I've ever had with D&D. It was a mind altering experience. I'm sure if I could step back in time I'd laugh at the terrible tropes and execution of the game. But it was my first experience with D&D and therefore in my mind it can never be surpassed. We had nearly two years of glorious adventures.
My character "Bill the dwarf" started out rather dim and dull, one of my first games involved me asking the question "so I can do anything I want right? Like anything?" ... DM Reply "Yes, but you have to ask first and then I'll make you roll for it" Me ... "Ok. Umm that troll we just killed. I want to see what it tastes like. Can I build a fire and cook some up?" DM ... "Uhhh ... you realize your in a dungeon right? You also realize that it is a filthy troll, not generally known for good eating!" I proceeded with my foolhardy test of "you can do anything" and Bill became rather ill. He managed to survive and the party fought off the wandering band of goblins who were attracted to the smell of burning troll flesh (pretty desperate even for goblins I have to say in retrospect). The campaign rolled on from there into far more interesting and fun places.
The large piece of paper Jeff used to sketch out our world map after each major section of the adventure allowed us to see the places where we'd been during our game. He hung it on his wall and it sort of marked out our achievements. Oh what I wouldn't give for that map now, a truly priceless piece of treasure that would be ...