Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pre-history of my D&D career

Before Dungeons & Dragons, there was Colossal Cave Adventure.

Well, at least for me. I remember being in elementary school...can't recall which grade - maybe third...maybe sixth (sometime around 1980 - I think). Anyway, my aunt had a boyfriend that worked with computers somewhere. In 1980-ish, that rather impressed me. Somehow, it came up in conversation that he and his colleagues spent some time playing a text-based adventure game on the computer. He had my attention. He also offered to "run me through" the game - without a computer - just me and him, sitting in the living room of my grandparents' house, talking. He would act the part of the program, from memory, and I would speak my input commands.

It was my first RPG experience. There were no character sheets. No dice. No books. Just me exploring a fantasy setting with a "Dungeon Master." I don't know why this guy put up with me for so long while playing this game, but I will always be grateful. I remember the forest, the building, the lantern, the maze of twisty little passages.

While I would jump headlong into D&D soon after, at that point I'd never heard of the game. I just knew I was hooked on "Adventure" - as the boyfriend called it. And it was. CCA and Zork both influenced my gaming style and content for the first few years, and the early versions of the D&D rules tended to support this style for me.

Also, my father and uncle would play Outdoor Survival together. I would get to play too. Thus, my perceptions of "wilderness adventure" were formed - and I had no idea the same game provided a sort of playing surface for the early D&D game as well. It was like I was exploring a dungeon behind the greatest adventurers that ever lived - but never actually caught up to them to realize I wasn't alone.

Sometimes, I think I might have created my own version of D&D if others hadn't. All the pieces were there for me. And, all the drive to do so. I even delved a little into "miniature combat" with the game of Feudal my father gave me. I never played it with anyone, or by the rules, but spent hours in my own tiny medieval realm with my tiny plastic medieval armies and castles.


  1. Sorry to comment on such an old post, but I realize now that I did basically exactly the same thing, except on the other side of the "screen," so to speak. In middle school, I decided to run a couple of classmates through a text-based adventure, where they would write down their actions on the piece of paper. The only difference is that, being of a slightly later generation, the game I ran them through was Thy Dungeonman. :D

  2. No sorry - please feel free to comment wherever the urge strikes. It is all welcome, as are you.

    Nice to meet a kindred spirit. Thank you for reading and commenting.