Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy Birthday Dungeons & Dragons!

This week marks the 43rd birthday of Dungeons and Dragons, originally published in late January 1974. 

My brother's copies of the original D&D books
In  late 1977 or early 1978 (hard to recall the exact date), my brother "introduced" me to Dungeons & Dragons for the first time:

Steve: You are standing in the foyer of a vast, eerie mansion. There are doors to the left and right and a hallway ahead. Pick one.

Me: Umm... I go to the door on the right

This room is about 20' by 30' in size. There is a lot of old broken furniture and shelves with rotted tomes. There is a chest on the North wall in this room. What do you do?

I run away.   [actual quote]

No, really... You are supposed to be a brave hero who explores and collects treasure.

Ok... I open the chest.

You are pricked by a poison need trap in the lock. You die.

That's right. My brother killed me in the very first room I ever explored in D&D (Tegel Manor, to be precise). Luckily, that experience was not the one that stuck. It was my good friend, Martin Griffin, who got me really hooked on the game using the Holmes box set and the AD&D Player's Handbook (we had no idea they weren't really the same game... He also had GreyhawkEldritch Wizardry and Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes from the original version of the game). If curious, you can read more of the full introduction to D&D story here.

The "white box" version of Dungeons & Dragons (which was originally a wood grain box) shipped for the first time this week in 1974, making D&D 43 years old this week. There are no records of the exact date the first box shipped, but January 26 is the date selected by those who were around at the time as the "official" birthday of D&D.

Holmes and Moldvay D&D basic sets
On behalf of all us hardcore geeks who have had 40+ years of fun, thank you Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, Don Kaye, Tim Kask, Jim Ward, Eric Holmes, Tom Moldvay, Frank Mentzer, David "Zeb" Cook, Tom Wham, Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, Bill Willingham, Larry Elmore, David Trampier and so many other contributors who made the game so memorable for me over the years.

I did eventually get my revenge on my bother. I took his original D&D books when he went to college. He ain't never getting them back.

Share your own memories in the comments!
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