Sunday, February 2, 2014
Day 2: I didn't want Jason to play, but Shannon was okay.
One day, Jason, who was a year or two older than me, saw one of my brother's AD&D books laying out in my bedroom. My brother had stopped running his games, but had loaned me his gaming books (these turned into a permanent loan--thanks, Bro). I read through them constantly. I wanted to put a group together. At first I was excited that Jason seemed interested.
I told him about the game, even said that we should play sometime. But I had some major reservations.
See, at that point I was living in low-income housing, a little cluster of apartment buildings separated from the rest of small-town Iowa by a Walmart and a bypass. And that meant theft.
Once, after some of my "friends" from the neighborhood hung out at my place, some of my money went missing. So I really didn't want risk anybody stealing my brother's AD&D hardcovers.
The first person I formally introduced to D&D was a kid from school named Shannon. He lived in town, but I had to go to his house to run games. His mom didn't want him to come out to where I lived, give my neighborhood's bad reputation.*
So I really didn't care if I had to ride my bike to Shannon's house. I finally had a player. He rolled up a fighter (I think) and spent an afternoon adventuring in the world I'd created.
The very first adventure I wrote up featured a Yuan-ti/snakeman and his tasloi minions trying to attack a village with a siege tower. I was enamored with siege towers, and I liked "non-standard" D&D monsters. But even, if I recall, Shannon thought it didn't make sense that the Yuan-ti only had a handful tasloi to push the siege tower. ("But come'on, Shannon, you're character is only 1st level.")
Shannon became part of the ever-rotating roster of players I had throughout most of middle school. I was leery about who I let come to the table, but Shannon was okay--when he showed up. Distances were just too great.
In any case, I can't blame him for not wanting to play more. I suspect that I'd gotten reputation for becoming a huge nerd:
Yes, I would bring my D&D books to school and carry them around with me--just in case.
But when one of my former players (not Shannon) stole my DMG in 7th Grade, that stopped.
*For the record: most of the people who lived there were fine, just trying to get by. Sure, I got into fights with the other kids--but that was the limits of the violence. But there were drugs, abusive parents, and other stuff I know I've blotted out. Just now, as I write this, I remember the day the police showed up to one of the apartment buildings. The eight-year-old girl who lived there--I wish I could remember her name--came out crying and told us that the police had come to take her mom away for drugs. A little while later social services arrived, and that was the last we saw of the girl and her mom.
I credit two major influences in my live for keeping me out of the worst that place had to offer: a wonderful and patient mother, and Dungeons & Dragons.