This summer, the idea of “Beginnings” has been on my mind a lot. First, I’ve been starting a bunch of new things, recently. I finished on game and started a Council of Wyrms game, I’ll have a table on Wednesdays to restart our Gamestore’s playspace post-Quarantine starting soonish, and I also started a game for my D&D Reunion group, made up of people that I used to play with in North Dakota. And, speaking of that, 10 years ago is when I joined the ND group. And 1 year ago, I started the J-Team for my brother. So it has certainly been a summer to reflect on beginnings.
D&D was not the first RPG I ever played, but it was my first serious game. My first RPG game ever was from a system my dad was writing, that he has since lost the notes for. That’s really sad, as it had an interesting magic system he was developing for it. I played a sword and board fighter type by the name of Sturm, as I was into Dragonlance at the time. I remember a juggler with a high enough dexterity to whip balls at people while he was juggling, and I remember my brother, suspicious of an attack from behind, walked backward through a door with an arrow drawn, tripped, and shot me in the back.
My first D&D character was never played. In high school, I made a character with my friend Derek. I think he was a Half orc Rogue who was going to become a shadow dancer. His name was Taeb, or “Beat” backwards. He thought he was a bard and would threaten people with his steel drum.
My first D&D game, I was the DM. I had a bastardized PDF of 4e, a vague story, and it was an okay game. I have very little memory of it, except that McD played a paladin, and there were goblins who ran for the alarms.
My first campaign, I played a 4e Dwarf shaman with a Portal Wombat named Moosensquirrl, who got knocked unconscious in one hit by a giant scorpion and developed a phobia of the skittering beasts, and also created DETR, Dwarves for the Ethical Treatment of Rocks.
The first campaign I ran was a time-travel story and I had no idea what I was doing. I’d do that story better, now, mostly by not actually doing it, but also, there were a lot of cliché things that weren’t worth it. I’m better at a lot of things now. (Most things, actually)
My first character death was in David’s game, where my illusionist was safely in the back, but the giant alligator had a secret passage and bit me in half.
My first Non-D&D game I ran was Mutants and Masterminds. I ran games for tribute characters of such noted favorites as Master Chief, Superman, and Roger Wilco.
My first games of 5e were from the Starter set, and I ran 3 games of it that week to various intersections of players.
My first world I built from scratch was the water setting, where I helped set someone up to DM, he ran one session then left for Florida, and I suddenly had to turn a mediocre session into a real game of ships and the sea and a crazy world I had big plans for. Spoilers: None of those plans really paid off, and some of them were very stupid. I could run this campaign MUCH better now, thanks to my experience with Isle of Dread.
My first gamestore sessions were at Magic City Magic. I played once before the group was disbanded, then a few months later, I accepted the DM’s chair. My first session had a single player, but I got up to 15 players in a session once. I learned a LOT from that game. Mostly about how to handle large groups, but other techniques as well.
My first game of Adventurer’s League was also my first game I played in Colorado. It was at Joe’s table and we spent literally a hour and a half of our two hour time block with everybody in the party having a reason to go to Triboar, but the party just would NOT come together and the DM was doing nothing to facilitate. It was then that I swore off “Bringing the party together.” It is not worth MY time to get a bunch of characters who don’t know who they are yet into a cohesive party. It is much simpler to say “You’re a group” and let the dynamics sort themselves out after that.
The start of my running for the gamestore in Colorado was when an 11 year old girl nervously entered the gamestore and I thought “I can’t let Josh be her first DM.” so I started a Tier 1 table and (2020 aside) have been running weekly ever since.
My first D&D experiment was probably Cowboys and Indians and Dragons? I do a lot of D&D experiments, so it’s hard to tell sometimes. I reskinned the 4 basic races to make them fit the old west, but then none of my RSVPs who had that PDF showed. (Ian might have?) and luckily, some previous players of mine were randomly at the gamestore, so they joined in and I saw the best player move I’ve ever seen, of a player who intentionally lost a poker game to see if the cardshark was a werewolf when he picked up the silver amulet. Good job, Rob!
My D&D journal was started November 9th, 2019. From then on, I have some notes about any RPG session I played, and even some I didn’t. Flipping through it, I’m so glad I started this, as memories, and forgotten notes start pouring back. I’m so glad my Uncle recommended this idea although his video was for gardening, and not D&D, but the idea was solid nonetheless.
I’ve had many more starts of various games, experiments, systems, groups. Starting gets easier in D&D. We practice “Starting” much much more than we practice ending. I have worlds and worlds of places that are probably worth going, and I hope that I get the chance to take people there.