Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dungeons & Dragons

Parachute pants, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Growing Pains, L.A. Gear, Breakfast Club....what do all of these have in common? They all helped define the 80s. Come take a fun "Journey" with me as we revisit the totally radical decade.

Dungeons & Dragons started the whole Role Playing Game phenomenon that took off during the 1980s. D&D was first published by TSR back in the late 70s, but found its stride in 1981. I remember being introduced to the world of RPG by my friend, Ian, in 1983. He had just bought it and we opened it up and started pouring over the rules. It was the basic D&D kit that included 2 books, maps, six polyhedral dice, and a marking crayon for the dice.

I learned about character sheets, ability scores, character classes, alignments, and powers/abilities. I'm pretty sure we didn't know what the hell we were doing, but we had a blast. When our other friends came over, we were able to create a more diverse group to complete fun campaigns.

The world we played in included wizards, elves, orcs, halflings, dragons, thieves, clerics,
treekeepers, merchants, trolls, and other fun creatures and beings.

We bought modules for additional campaigns, but the most fun we ever had was designing our own.

I can't recall what year it was, but I remember when frenzied Christians started attacking D&D, saying it was satanic or something. Playing these games meant you were playing with witchcraft or making deals with the devil.

By the close of the 80s, there were a couple strange stories of young boys getting caught up in the fantasy of D&D and killing people in real life. Obviously, playing games wasn't responsible for these murders, but it created a big backlash and TSR even got sued a couple times.

RPGs are still played today, and they all have Dungeons & Dragons to thank. Although I no longer play, I still have a soft place in my heart for all things D&D.


27 comments:

mooderino said...

I have fond memories of this too. Video games has more or less replaced it, but there was something special about sitting in a room together to play this crazy fantasy.

mood
Moody Writing

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

D&D geek here! Played it all the time in the late 70's and early 80's. About the time I got married, a group of us were playing every Saturday night.
Recently got rid of most of my modules, but I still have all the books and dice. I was often the DM, so I have a ton of charts and maps as well. And yeah, I ended up designing most of our games myself.

Brinda said...

Do I admit that I played a little in college?

Miranda Hardy said...

I never did understand this game. Lol

Jay Noel said...

mooderino: Yeah, video games have taken over, but I still see lots of kids and adults playing. There's always people gathering at book stores or comic book shops.

Alex: That's pretty cool! They've gotten fancier with the dice too.

Brinda: I think you just did.

Miranda: I don't see myself getting back into it. I think I played Star Frontiers (TSR's sci-fi version) as a kid too, but that my RPG days ended when I discovered GIRLS.

Cindy said...

Somehow I never ended up playing this game, but it always sounded interesting.

Rusty Webb said...

I never played for a variety of reasons. Most of them centering around the absolute evil-osity that the games produced.

Always wanted to though. I've considered finding a local group I could join on several occasions, but then I remember that I complain about my lack of free time too much already. I need to focus.

Melanie Schulz said...

My parents were of the sort that wouldn't let me even think about getting that game. I don't know if that was a good or bad thing.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I never D&D, but I've played a bunch of sci-fi role-playing games. There's nothing like it.

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

Dude, you just rolled a nat 20 with this post.

Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day are proud.

M Pax said...

It sounds odd, but I never played D&D. Always wanted to, though.

The Desert Rocks said...

Never played it but I think I was an adult by this time. :) Now that I'm not so much an adult it sounds interesting.

Riann Colton said...

Never played. Never wanted to.

Am okay with that.

Samantha May said...

I've never played! Would this be the origins of LARPing then?

People LARP on campus all of the time and they even dress in the costumes...interesting stuff.

Jay Noel said...

Cindy: It's addicting. I can see why so many love it.

Rusty: I'm exactly the same way. It's be such a time drain.

Melanie: Most kids were just fine playing. Others, a small tiny percentage, got a little carried away.

Maurice: I liked Star Frontiers. Played a little of that, along with the the Doctor Who one.

Jay Noel said...

Michael: Good call!

Mary: I don't think I'd be very good at it as an adult. Pretty sure I'd be watching the clock.

Eve: Half of the time, we didn't really play. Just socialized.

Riann: I can't imagine playing now as an adult.

Samantha: Yes, but I think LARPing came along right after the RPGs back in the late 70s

Cathrina Constantine said...

Always heard of Dungeons & Dragons, but never played. Sounds interesting.

Nick Wilford said...

Haven't played D & D although I have fond memories of the cartoon.

kmckendry said...

My Mom was one of those who thought it had Satanic connections so I wasn't allowed to play. But it sounds like it was cool.

elizabethwatgibson said...

I don't know why, but I never got around to playing this game. Oh, wasn't there a movie about this game and something happened to the players?

History Sleuth said...

Oh I know this game well. I played with my brother and his friends in the early 80s. I still have a little die cast warrior chick I painted that I put in front of me. :) cool post!

Jay Noel said...

Cathrina: Pretty sure it helped spawn generations of fantasy lovers out there.

Nick: I remember that! The guy had a lightning bolt bow and arrow.

kmckendry: It does kinda look satanic...

elizabeth: I think a couple kids actually killed people, but they were troubled.

History: Whoa! I never got a die cast warrior.

Dana Martin said...

Oh wow.... were we separated at birth? Although I did not play D&D, I RP'd online in "Medieval Tavern" in the days of AOL chat rooms. I think the original room was the Red Dragon Inn. How funny!!! Love this!!!

Dana
Waiter, drink please!


J.L. Campbell said...

D&D was all the rage, but I never played it.

Pk Hrezo said...

I loved the idea of D&D but never had anyone to play it with. Poor me. :(

Christine Rains said...

Woot! Yay for D&D! I never played back in the 80's, but I'm surrounded by game books now.

Trisha Hall said...

At some point I started to think, "Maybe I'll check out D&D," and then I found Games Workshop, and Warhammer, and tiny plastic figures that I could spend literally hours painting and gluing and in general obsessing over, and all thoughts of D&D left my head. Now I have kids, and they are getting to the age where they want to play RPGs, and in a few more years I'll hand over my paints and minis and the geek torch will burn for another generation.

Nice tribute to the game that launched thousands of ideas, from movies to video games, to books and literally every variation of tabletop/ RPG. Excellent post.

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