Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My Intro To Roleplaying, or On Being a Girl in the 80s with a Red Box Obsession...

I remember the first time I held a Dungeons & Dragons Red Box in my hands. I was maybe 9 years old at the time and we were visiting my Uncle who lived in Florida. While the grown-ups were busy chatting we kids were handed a pile of games to keep us busy; a beat up copy of monopoly, a wooden labyrinth where you tilted and chased a marble around the board, and a red box with a picture of some dude slaying a dragon on the cover.  My little brother and baby sister fought over who got to play with the labyrinth, as I sat and looked through the books, reading the D&D starter rules, and was instantly hooked.  "I want to play THIS." I went and told the assembled group of adults. They chuckled and told me I was too young and the box was taken away, as my Uncle apologized for having mistakenly handed it over in the first place.

I went home to Windsor with a new obsession, I wanted to play D&D. Each visit to the local mall I would stand in the Coles bookstore, pick up the various D&D boxes, read the backs, look at the prices, and leave without buying anything. Eventually I saved up enough to buy the coveted Red Box, but my mom squashed my plans. This was the early 80s, my mom had seen news reports of those poor boys across the river that had "disappeared" into the tunnels of Michigan State University while playing D&D. She worried I would become obsessed (Um... hello! I already was!). She said I was too young. She told me I could buy the game when I was 13 and not a minute before.

I think she figured that I would forget about it. That my interest would wan. Instead I spent 3 years gazing longingly at the D&D display in my local book store. Finally sometime in my 12th year she gave in and let me buy the Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules. I remember how excited I was tearing into it. I remember the white crayon and filling in the sides on my dice. I remember eagerly making my first character. Memorizing all the various symbols for the maps and spending hours drawing my own.  I enjoyed playing through the choose your own adventure style single player walk through. I peeped at the Dungeon Master book and dreamed of running a game. And here's where I hit a dead end. I was a 12 and a half year old female. My best, and pretty much only, friend wanted to get together and go shopping at the mall. She had no interest in playing D&D, despite my constant nagging. I figured if she'd just look at the book she'd be as enchanted as I was. I lent her the player's book and begged her to read it. A few weeks later she returned it, and said, "Sorry, no way, just not my thing."

So do you know what I ended up doing with my long coveted Red Box? I played D&D with my mom and my little brother. My mother was the Dungeon Master. I give her full props for playing along, but I was well aware that of the three of us at the table I was the only one really digging the experience.  We gave it up after a few sessions. Left with the urge to play, but no one to play with, my Red Box ended up getting set aside. I wasn't to pick up roleplaying again until several years later. But I do have many fond memories of long hours spent mucking around with that Red Box. You never forget your first love, right?

The box long ago got sent to the recycling bin
and some git stole the dice out of my backpack,
but I do still have my much loved books from the D&D Basic set.
What was your intro to Roleplaying? Did anyone else start off with the D&D Basic? As a young girl were you able to find fellow players?


  1. I went to a school full of geeks so it really wasn't that hard to find people to play with. I started with AD&D though.

  2. I actually have never tried roleplaying, and I've never known anybody who has -- in my intimate circles, or even in school! I wonder why that is!

  3. My ex boyfriend was big into role playing games. I know a lot of people who played D$D when they were younger. However, I have never played it.

  4. I've never been into gaming, but my sons are full on addicts! Lol

  5. I was not into the era of Dungeons and Dragons or the red box. I enjoy some games the my children play on nintendo or x-box or any of the other box games that they have, but none of us were really "addicted" to any of the gaming systems

  6. I was too young when the D and D craze was big in the 80s but I attended a camp where there were very avid players. They would play all night. I couldn't understand the obsession but now that I am older I definitely can!

  7. I never played D and D when I was younger and it was popular. I'm sure I would have if there was anyone I knew who played.

  8. I remember trying to play with my family. They were not keen on it. Mostly, I played with one friend for years, and we got damned tired of each other.


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