The father of the turn based role playing game died yesterday. Gary Gygax created Dungeons & Dragons in 1974, the year before I was born. His death got me thinking about the old game again and the pen and my pen and paper RPG days.
For as long as I can remember, I always knew about the game. There was always a collection of kids in my neighborhood who played. It was like their secret club. I never got my hands on a D&D book until I changed neighborhoods and started hanging around with my old friend Jeremy.
Jeremy also treated the game like it was a secret club. Until I came along, I think he was in a secret club of one. He was almost obsessively protective of his Dungeon Master’s Guide though we weren’t even playing the game at the time. Before long we had a late night sleepover campaign going though it’s a pretty limited game with only two people playing but none the less it was still fun and dark.
On the other side of the neighborhood, I was involved in a more organized RPG called M.U.S.C.L.E.S. Wrestling. Credit to some pretty clever kids, this game was drawn from the ground up on pad and paper. We had dozens of wrestling moves and managers and hit points and even cage matches. The creators were big fans of WWF wrestling at the time. It was a pretty fun game and a safe distance from the darker D&D that I was involved in with Jeremy. At least half of my friends were quite forbidden from the likes of D&D, aka “Satan’s Game”.
Unfortunately, late night games of D&D with Jeremy began to infringe on my afternoons of Muscles Wrestling. Word got out that I was missing the MW game to play this darker evil that they were all forbidden to touch. Before long I received a phone call from the MW club. I was collectively “kicked out” of the MW club. It was like they rehearsed the phone call ahead of time as they all shouted it over the phone together. I wasn’t really hurt. D&D was more fun anyway, even with two people.
Before long the Nintendo Entertainment System brought the pen and paper RPG phenomenon to a close. A few of us still dabbled in Battletech and Robotech RPG games. We never did get the rules right playing Battletech but it too was still pretty fun.
I still have a bunch of Battletech and Robotech books boxed away somewhere. I can’t bring myself to part with them yet.