I can still remember, vividly, my first foray into the world of Dungeons and Dragons. It was the summer of 1979 and I was 8 years old. My neighbor's daughter used to work at the local Goodwill and one of her co-worker's, a nice man named Jessie was an avid gamer. You can read a brief history of my introduction to gaming here.
After a while, Jessie agreed to come to my house and teach my brother and I how to play and run us through an adventure. I was very excited. I had looked through all of his books, and fantasized about being a valiant warrior or and powerful wizard for weeks, and now I was actually going to be one.
As promised, he came over and we sat around the dining room table. My mom sat on the couch in the living room to keep an eye on things, just in case. There was a big uproar starting around that time about D&D being satan's game and how kids were going crazy and killing themselves or others after playing it so my mother was a little bit concerned. She was open minded enough to let me try it, but if it was too weird she would have put a stop to it pretty quickly. So Jessie got out his books and paper and pencils and set them on the table, then pulled these strange pieces of plastic out of his pocket and let them skitter across the glass table top. They were all different shapes and colors and of course my 8 year old mind was captivated by them.
He handed my brother, who was 10 at the time, and I a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and told us to write down a few things. You know the ones: Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con, Chr, AC, HP etc. For all those of you that a newer to the game, back in the good ol' days, you didn't need a character sheet to make a character. There wasn't that much information that you needed to get started so you could literally grab a scratch piece of paper and a pencil and make your own character sheet on the fly. It was a much simpler time. I rolled some of the oddly shaped dice and came up with my first set of stats; Str: 14, Int: 14, Wis: 12, Dex: 16, Con: 8, Chr: 15. It was early in the history of D&D so he played that you roll 3d6 and assign scores in order that you rolled them. There wasn't any 4d6 drop the lowest, or assign the score where ever you like etc. Things were hardcore back then.
He ran down my character options and of course I had no idea how my stats related to different character classes, so I picked the one that sounded the coolest at the time: Elf. They got to cast magic spells AND swing a sword! How could I go wrong? So we filled out the rest of my character: Hit Points, Saving throws vs. Paralyzation/ Poison, Petrification/ Polymorph, Rod/ Staff/ Wand, Breath Weapon and Spells, Alignment etc. and then he truly stumped me. He said "ok, now pick a name". I was dumbfounded, I had never named an elf before. So I thought for a couple of minutes and nothing was coming to me, so I started scanning the room for anything I could use and I caught sight of a painting of an old galleon with scrolls and writing on it that hung above the couch. I looked at the words and there it was, the perfect name for an elf: Amen!
Ok, so our character's were done and the adventure was about to begin. My brother and I was traveling adventurers heading towards a town to seek fame and fortune. Along the road, we heard a scream. It came from the woods off to our right. Like true heroes, we dashed off towards the noise. As we crested a small hill, we see 3 menacing orcs near a tent and one of them was carrying a girl prisoner.
We immediately leaped into action, calling to them and asking what they were doing. Being orcs, they weren't very into conversation, so the beast carrying the girl dropped her while the other two charged up the hill towards us. Both of us were thrilled. We had never been in a situation like this. Here we were, two heroic warriors facing off against creatures only in our imagination. We had to act, and we had to act fast. My brother launched his hand axe at the first orc, catching him square in the chest and putting him down writhing in agony. I took out my bow and fired an arrow at the second but missed, the arrow streaking into the forest beyond the tent. Before we could act again, the orc slammed headlong into my brother's character, engaging in a life or death struggle. I wanted to fire another arrow at his attacker, but was afraid to fire into the swirling melee before me. Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the third orc racing toward me with his battle axe raised above his head. I turned to fire at him, but it was too late, he was already on me and swinging his deadly weapon. I took a vicious hit and staggered back dropping my bow. I could see my brother struggling to defeat his attacker and I knew I was on my own. I pulled my long sword and engaged the foul beast. Weapons clanged and sparks flew from steel on steel. Cut and hewed but the orc was mighty and I was no match for him. I blow from his axe haft caught me in the temple and my vision blurred. The last thing I saw before darkness took me was my brother being force to retreat, screaming that he would return with help and rescue me.
When I awoke, I was bound and gagged in the tent of my foes and I could hear them discussing the best way to cook and eat me. My brother, however, was able to make good his escape and go for help at the next town.
Unfortunately, by that time it was late and Jessie had to go home. Soon after, he left the job at Goodwill and I never got a chance to play D&D with him again. So to this day I never learned the fate of my first character. For all I know, he's still awaiting the dinner bell 30 years later.