Saturday, April 9, 2016

How I Did It - Into the Middle Kingdom (Junior High School)

Continuing from

Around 5th or 6th grade, I officially discover D&D - meaning, I actually know what it is I'm playing. At the local toy store, I find the Monster Manual. Having no idea what Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is, I pick it up for all the great monsters I can use in my own game. A few weeks later, I get the Moldvay Basic Set. Then, the Expert Set. It would be almost a year before I find other players.

During that year, I start creating my own game setting. I read and re-read those D&D books. Eventually, I abandon my homemade game for D&D - never looking back. Why create my own setting? What choice did I have? I never saw Greyhawk in my local stores. Besides - it's kind of my thing. At first, I drew a small map centered on my dungeon of Whitefalcon Castle. What?! I was, like, eleven or twelve at the time! I liked the name. It worked for the me of that time. Moving on...

Expanding my world with maps became my priority. At first, these came mostly from my favorite fantasy novels. In fact, I started buying books based on the inclusion of a map at the beginning. The 80s were good to me in that regard. But, that didn't last long. I wanted an entire world of my own. Otherwise, why bother? Besides, I only really liked specific elements of those worlds. I was reading a LOT of books. McKillip. Leiber. Cook. Wagner. Moorcock. Brooks. de Lint. Aspirin. Wolfe. LeGuin. Zelazny. Lustbader. Howard. Lovecraft. Garner. Alexander. Baum. Tolkien. Cooper. Lewis. L'Engle.

My mother bequeathed one of the two hall linen closets to me for my growing library. It was filled in a couple of years. During that time, I was learning how the pros built their fantasy worlds. Look - I suffered from a sever lack of confidence. In fact, I'd later be diagnosed with anxiety. This possibly led me to research heavily before tearing off on my own. What seemed to influence or inspire these writers was of great interest to me. What they included. What they left out. What details they focused on. How their characters worked. How much magic. What kind of magic. High Fantasy vs. Low Fantasy. Tolkien vs. Pulp. Charting my course.

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