Spaghetti and Meeples: A Rambling Post About Dungeons & Dragons - Part 1
Brandon: Greetings, Player Characters and Dungeon Masters! If you are looking for a coherent post on the merits and mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) please look elsewhere. If, however, you are interested in my meandering musings on my personal history, or lack thereof, with D&D then please sit down and stay awhile.
Let’s just jump in, shall we?
I have two early memories of D&D. The first is the Dungeons & Dragons television program. The show aired from 1983 to 1985 according to sources on the interwebs. I don’t remember that. I don’t even remember that I was the age that I was. For the record, I was youngish. What I do remember is how it made me feel. To be clear, it made me feel amazing. I loved the concept: children thrown into another world and handed magical items and told it was up to them to save that world. I loved the character classes: Acrobat, Ranger, Cavalier, Magician, Thief, Barbarian. And who could forget Dungeon Master and Uni the baby unicorn. Venger was an impressive looking villain and then there was Tiamat. Multi-headed dragon!!
I wanted to be the Ranger so bad. He had a super cool faux medieval outfit and an energy bow. No bow string. Just the bow and when you wanted you pulled back and an energy bowstring magically appeared and shot glowing energy arrows!
I could go on about my analysis of that show that I have done as an adult; the interpersonal issues of the group, the villains(Venger!), the way the group interacted with different groups of people, and that the show started dealing with some heavy stuff towards the end. All this in just 13 episodes. But, I want to stick to my memory as a child, and as a child I just thought this show was rad.
My second early memory is of buying a Warduke toy at Toys ‘R Us right around this time. The skull shield was incredible! I was staying with my dad for the Summer and my step brother at the time made a comment that was basically, “Wow, you’re into that devil stuff. You’re weird.” Now, to explain, I wasn’t “into D&D”. I like the show. I liked this toy. That was about it. I wish I still had that toy. But, Derek’s comment(his name was Derek) does lead us into my next interaction with D&D, which was nothing. Nothing. I liked the show. I liked my toy. I had some interest in playing and I have a vague memory of making what I thought was a character sheet, but then nothing.
Let me magically transport us all to my time in high school. Not the happiest time in my life. Not the worst, but a close second. I was not suddenly immersed in the world of D&D with similarly outcast friends. I was playing guitar in the jazz band at school and also playing in a heavy metal/progressive metal band in my spare time. Somewhere in there I saw the movie Mazes & Monsters.
The movie had actually come out before the D&D tv show, but I didn’t see it until, well, high school. I highly recommend seeing this movie. You must understand that it is based on a book that is largely hokum and that it came out at a time when there was a large D&D backlash based solely on fear of the unknown. “Oh no! People and children are playing a game where they pretend to be wizards. Witchcraft! Will no one save the children!” If I remember correctly this was also around the time of heavy metal deprogramming camps. Yes, those existed. People had their children abducted and sent to camps to get them to stop listening to that devil music.
I am getting off track. Remember though, I told you this would be meandering. Back to my point…the current point…?
There is a type of person who watches Scarface and says to them-self “That’s the life for me!” Without spoiling too much, the story does not go well for the main character in the end. It’s a cautionary tale of sorts. Mazes & Monsters is meant to be a cautionary tale as well. It did not make me afraid of Dungeons & Dragons at all. It made me want to play it. And so, I didn’t. Seriously. I still didn’t get into D&D. I kept playing guitar. I read books. I built a book case.
Then in 1994 I was introduced to Magic The Gathering(MTG). This was a revelation. This was a whole world in a tiny little box. Those first boxes spoke to me. They were made to look like small spell books. There was lore and all of these familiar and unfamiliar monsters and creatures and people. Tarehna and I wound up playing a lot of MTG and had a suitcase full of cards. Then we stopped playing and we donated that suitcase full of cards. And still, I had never played D&D.
Oh my. Would you look at that? Look. Look up above. Do you see how much you have read so far. I haven’t actually even shared anything significant yet, but here you are at the end of it. Well, at the end of Part 1 at least. I didn’t know this was going to happen. Looks like there will be a Part 2. Thank you so much for reading my ramblings on not playing D&D. If you join us for Part 2 I guarantee that you will be able to read about how I finally got into play Dungeons & Dragons when I was no longer youngish, but, in fact, was oldish.