Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Of dice and men

Had a flashback to middle-school awkwardness this morning reading Joel Stein's syndicated column about the passing of Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons & Dragons.

My D&D days were relatively short, but vivid. My friend, Seth, started me on the game in 7th grade. He set up my first character (an elf that Seth - son of a graphic artist - penciled on my profile sheet with a crooked smile, craggy face, flat-top comb over and a pointy set of ears only Spock could love) and took me through my first campaign. With his artistic genes and anarchist pre-teen spirit leading me through the foggy moors and dank underground passages of strange medieval worlds, I was hooked.

The ever-present smoke and stray CO2 fumes from the wood-burning stove his family used to heat his house may have also enhanced the experience.

I geeked it out with my friends throughout middle school. I spent months creating my own elaborate campaign, based on the Moody Blues "Knights in White Satin" for wussiness' sake. Two of my friends even typed/programmed an adventure they created into a "state of the art" Commodore 64 gaming console computers with the cassette recorder hard drive.

OK, we had a lot of time on our hands in those days, but not enough to wait for the frickin' thing to reboot so they could scroll through endless lines of text and code on a tiny monochrome screen, trying to find if a +2 mace of confusion could be skillfully wielded by an uncharismatic half-human thief against an ogre huffing acidic stink breath while encumbered by 34 gold coins, a flagon of rancid mead and pouch full of -2 everlasting Gobstopper grenades.

My D&D days ended when I graduated into the local Catholic high school and my friends stayed in public education. I occasionally find stray sheets of the reams and reams of graph paper we used for mapping tucked into old books and files.

But I wonder whatever became of my tan suede pouch of 20-sided dice?

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My Uncool Past