- Jul 11, 2020
- Reaction score
Technically, it was a heavily house ruled adaptation of 3rd edition. (Though I didn’t know it at the time). So… yes?
Man, all of that seems so familiar (with a dollop of CYOA books on the side for me). Was there just something in the air culturally at that time?I guess I'll get into these weeds.
As I posted before, my first "formal" RPG was Moldvay D&D, but I had already been doing something that would have been recognizable as diceless or freeform RPGing for a considerable period of time before that.
When I was small, I wasn't allowed to have any friends over. My home situation was such that my only socialization with my peers was at school or on the park playground on whatever summer afternoons I was taken there. In second grade, I had a "best friend" at school, but he changed schools at the end of the school year, so I no longer had a reliable in-person playmate.
Every once in a rare while, we would meet up and get to play in person. By "rare" I mean that it might happen on each of our birthdays, and that was it. Since we couldn't hang out in person, we started just talking on the phone a lot.
When we were together in person, we would play "Star Trek." This was standard childhood cowboys and indians except it would be kids pretending to be Kirk, Spock, monsters of the week, or Klingons. Once we started our phone conversations, we started playing "Star Trek" without the running around the playground or using the monkeybars as the starship Enterprise. We would just pretend to be Kirk an Spock and do stuff. We'd have long phone calls where we'd play pretend.
We soon invented a sort of GM role. Sort of organically, one player would start being a sort of narrator and guy who presented the situations. I suppose the role existed in kid's playground play too, but it became more distinct and formalized now that we were doing this purely by conversation. In a short time this evolved into one of us having a turn at being Kirk or Spock while the other was a guy running the game. At this point it was definitely a recognizably GM sort of role, but it wasn't a strict divide. It was a sort of agreed upon role with significant back and forth. This was probably 1978, long before either of us had even heard of D&D or similar RPGs.
Soon, we wanted to do something other than play Kirk or Spock or the adventures of the Enterprise crew. We wanted to play Battle of the Planets or Star Wars. Almost simultaneously, we wanted to play OURSELVES and interact with the fictional worlds. So, we'd play ourselves, fictionalized, idealized versions obviously.
Shortly thereafter we started inventing our own fiction rather than dropping ourselves into existing fictional worlds. Then my friend wanted me to run a "superhero game." I didn't read superhero comics at the time. My only knowledge of superheroes came from the Super Friends cartoon and a bit of Superman lore. But this is the point where I think it became recognizable that we were creating RPG characters. We were still playing "ourselves" but this is where a recognizable sort of character creation routine entered our play pattern.
All of this was diceless. We didn't have what anyone would recognize as "stats." I guess at a total stretch you could say that we had something like Fate Aspects. We had mutually understood descriptions of our characters.
At this point we were pretty much playing RPGs. We'd play sci fi or superheroes. I know we were in full swing by 1980. So we were playing something recognizable as a diceless RPG for years before I ever saw a D&D book.
"Sandbox" wasn't a thing. The guy who was the GM was definitely a storyteller. The player reacted to that story or would take things in new directions. It was very improvisational. The GM would have an idea and we'd see where it would go. If it went off into the weeds, then the GM would make shit up.
I'm using the term "GM" but we didn't call it that. I don't think we had an actual title at all. We'd just say, "it's your turn" and we knew what that meant. Oh, we called these games "crazies" and playing one was "going crazy." So it would be something like, "It's time for you to be crazy."
We often had maps. I seriously wish I still had some of the many deck plans I drew for starships we dreamed up. But the idea of keyed encounter areas never occurred to us, and needless to say the idea of crawling around a map grid would have struck us as ridiculous. We couldn't share the maps in real time. We would make hand copies and mail them to each other sometimes, but they were really more about color and just fun activities rather than game aids.
Then later, the same friend pushed D&D on me as "a better way" to do what we were doing. I eventually conned my mom into buying me the basic set on a visit to Sears.
I don't think that D&D set was entirely a good influence on what I already had.
Same here, though the transition began with Empire of the Petal Throne, Metamorphosis Alpha, and Boot Hill. I'm not sure I saw a non-TSR rpg until I started college, but soon I was playing Chivalry & Sorcery, TFT, and Traveler more than D&D. In the early 1980s I was involved with a long-running AD&D 1e campaign, but I think by 1985 I'd played 75%+ of all the D&D sessions I ever have--more if you discount variants like AiME and the D20 Game of Thrones.OD&D because there was no other option. Soon went to RQ, Traveller and Chivalry and Sorcery
One of my true loves in the mid 80s and I made homebrew games and maps based on the contents of these books:So do gamebooks count? Or "labyrinths" populated with monsters from game books that your character could explore? We created those in high school.
I mean, I'd played Warlock of the Firetop Mountain, a host of other FF books, Bloodsword 1-5, Way of the Tiger, and about a 100-150 others before I even knew what RPGs were. That's got to change my answer...
80% and from the post it looks like most of us started early to mid 80s with a few outliers either side of that.Looks like we are trending towards around 80% which is about what I was guessing.
Interesting how similar it is. I was about the same age, it was just in the early 80s, and it was Moldvay Basic.Honestly curious what percent here started with D&D, and how many people started with something else.
I started with AD&D in the late 80s/early 90s (I was like 5-6 years old, so nailing down the exact date is pretty hard, it was when I was in Kindergarten though).
Getting a small child to play the cat is zn idea I like mord and more with each time I hear it. Hmm...I'm not sure. In 1977 or '78, I was part of a group that the Youth Group babysitted in the basement of the church my family was going to during coffee hour. They were playing a game that involved space and smuggling and two six-sided dice. I played the ship's cat on a couple of Sundays. So I'm pretty sure I was "playing" Traveller.
Werewolf: the Apocalypse is probably the best choice for a first RPG out of WoD games.I started with the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (Citadel of Chaos) 82ish? and my mum brought me the TSR Conan box set about 84/85. Then there was some Play by post but I didn't really start roleplaying properly till 92 with Werewolf:The Apocalypse and the rest of the WoD.