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RPG Memories: My D&D Summer

by Jason Campbell

I began playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (first edition) in the summer of 1981 and continued to play throughout the 80s. My first exposure to Dungeons and Dragons (or any role-playing game) was through an article in Dynamite magazine.

Dynamite magazine’s article on Dungeons and Dragons

Dynamite magazine was published by Scholastic Press throughout the 1970s. It was aimed at young teens and I had a subscription for years. When I read this article I was immediate in love with the concept of the game, having recently read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I ran across the “red book” (not the box, just the D&D Basic rule book) in my local hobby shop in Chelmsford, MA in the summer of 1981 and bought it and read it over and over again. I didn’t immediately understand how it worked, but I soon found that one of my friends had played the game at summer camp. Since he understood the game more than I did, he became my first DM.

My friend had played AD&D, so the simplified rules in the basic book confused both of us, but we pushed through. At first since I didn’t have the boxed set, we used only d6’s because that’s all we had. Soon we realized we needed the “real stuff” and bought the Players’ Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual (and sets of dice). We would play every weekend, usually long into the night. Evenings when we weren’t playing we’d “work on our characters”, which usually meant reading the PHB and DMG again (and again and again) to find things we could add to our characters, whether that was a small mundane item to put in our backpacks, or rolling for the slim chance we might have psionics (stuck in the appendices of the DMG).

Thanks for indulging me in my reminiscences. I know my story isn’t unique, and I hope that the young students I teach the game to now feel the same passion and wonder we did when we first opened that red book.