My mom used to read to me at night before I went to bed. We went through many, many books together this way – until I became old enough to want to read on my own. But, before that critical moment arrived, we had been to Oz (all of the Baum books, plus many of his “Non Oz” masterpieces), Narnia, Prydain, Middle Earth (The Hobbit and the entire Lord of the Rings), Green Knowe, and many other imaginary realms.
An influential stop, for me, was Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Earthsea.”
Strange as it might seem to folks, I never wanted to play anything but a human. In my current games, I think I’d have a hard time letting anyone play as anything but human. I haven’t quite got to the point where I have figured out the ecology of too many of the demi-human types in the campaign yet.
I heard about D&D before actually playing it. I was at a play rehearsal in Junior High and one of the other kids there, Kevin, who was a year older than I was, was telling us about it. I kept asking questions and immediately realized that, while he had played the game a few times, Kevin was unclear on the rules and the some of the structure. This didn’t stop me. I started drawing maps on the chalkboard in the classroom we were in while he tried to explain the game to us.
“The sand of the desert of Yondo is not as the sand of other deserts; for Yondo lies nearest of all to the world’s rim; and strange winds, blowing from a pit no astronomer may hope to fathom, have sown its ruinous fields with the gray dust of corroding planets, the black ashes of extinguished suns.”
- Clark Ashton Smith
It was H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday the other day – and the hooplah hasn’t ended. It really never stops, I suppose, over on Facebook. Lovecraft is like Dr. Who and Game of Thrones over there. But no one ever talks about Clark Ashton Smith the same way, do they?
The art in D&D started going down the tubes the same time the game did. As the art in TSR’s products became more “professional,” it became more soulless and lacking. Gygax himself was a big part of this problem. He notoriously preferred the ugly, uninspired second edition cover of the DMG to the iconic first one.
Some of us have seen people seeking to back-date their FRP involvement to a point before the actual D&D game appeared on the market. In some cases, I suspect, this a more or less transparent attempt to disavow D&D’s direct influence on them. As such, it tends to fool exactly no one. But in other situations, it represents the way that the world was waiting for D&D, that the time was right for it, and that- when the game appeared – we were prepared.
Did you play D&D before there was D&D?
1) I was friendly with Connor from the time we were in Nursery School together. This school was housed in a giant Victorian-era home in our town, and it stood complete with a covered driveway port, a carriage house, and other unusual, period amenities. It had, over the years, served as a retirement home and a hospital for invalid WWI soldiers. Failing to meet certain codes, it existed only because it was continually operating before the laws had changed – and the people running it knew that if it were ever to cease operations, it would never be allowed reopen.
The first edition of D&D included Tolkien’s Balrogs as monsters for the game – and they also appeared in D&D’s miniature game precursor Chainmail. Tolkien’s lawyers put a stop to this, along with other examples of unauthorized appropriations from his work, and the later editions of the game never included them. I had no idea that the first version had these monsters and we never encountered any Balrogs when I played with the “White Box” back in the day…