My fiesty polearm mercenary from middle school (black box!)
My first pen-and-paper experience was while we were on vacation. Passing by the window of a lounge, my brother and I (barely middle school aged at the time) saw a co-ed group of college kids playing a game we’d definitely never seen before. Somehow we found out that they were playing something called “Dungeons and Dragons.” I can’t remember much else from that vacation, or even where we’d gone to at the time, but I certainly didn’t forget that!
I don’t think we let our mom forget, either. Probably sooner rather than later, we eventually got the black box and immediately commandered a spare room we had in our garage to use as a sort of neighborhood clubhouse for it. These were back in those cherished early years, when a roll of 16 seemed a god-like score, non-human races were actually classes, and halflings were clearly pre-lawsuit hobbits in all the artwork. In those days I didn’t mind that my fighter couldn’t actually, you know, do anything other than roll the attack die. Long opposed to reading, that all changed with both the Dragonlance novels and the D&D guide books. Katrina was essentially a rip-off of Kitiara Majere both name and look. Even though I was okay at drawing back then, I wasn’t yet good enough to draw people the way I wanted them to look. As a result, most of my characters used various heroes from the old trading card set. (I was always drawn to Easley the most, myself.)
My brother ended up playing it a good amount up until college, though he didn’t do it quite as often as I did and he no longer plays. I feel a bit bad because, when you’re a kid, you often don’t want your younger or older sibling tagging along on things. I got lucky in that my friends naturally gravitated towards it; Cory didn’t have as many to play with, I think, and I rarely invited him into my games. Maybe if I had, he could join me in games today.