First Encounters

Posted on March 05, 2018

I was in the sixth grade, and at my mom's house watching TV with my older brother when she asked us if we wanted to play a game. We agreed, and she hauled out this huge black box with a big red dragon on the cover that she’d just bought. I should note that she had never played an RPG, but thought it might be good for my brother and me.

So we sprawled out on the floor as she cracked the box open. The first thing that grabbed me were the dice. I remember trying to figure out how to read the d4, and then ultimately deciding that the d12 was the coolest thing ever. In the meantime my mom had gotten everything set up and then began to read from the series of tabbed cards which served as the rules and introduction to role playing games. However, she made the mistake of pulling out the map of Zanzer's dungeon, and I was pretty much unreachable for the next few minutes as I studied all the different rooms on the map.

This was until she got to the story of the game (that I'm going to butcher, but I think the general idea was that you have a very large lizard that you’re trying to transport somewhere). She asked, "What do you do?"

She went on to explain that in D&D there aren't predefined actions that you have to take. Maybe you try and carry the lizard, maybe you look for a cart to borrow. Ultimately it’s up to you, the player, to use your skill and surroundings however you think best.

That story was my first introduction to D&D, and it planted this ethic in my brain about what games should do and what power they have. For some context I should note that my parents had just gotten divorced, and the last year or so had been tough. Playing through the first part of that encounter up until my brother got bored was a much-needed distraction from the real world.

It wasn't until a few years later that I could find someone who showed any interest in playing the game, but to this day learning the basics of D&D from my mom is still the most epic moment in my gaming history.

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