Have you ever played D&D?

Does anybody play D&D?


  • Total voters
    25

Lacedaemonian

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Imagine, if you will, it is 1987…

We are walking the streets of a council estate in a new town in the northernmost reaches of England. For those of you that don't know, new towns were, in this instance at least, a response to housing shortages following the destruction of two million homes during the Blitz.

This particular estate was a stark example of the experimental architecture of the 1960s. In an act that could only be graded as 'low regard', madcap architects were let loose on this ancient landscape. The terraced houses in these streets were castle walls with alternate two storey and three-story buildings forming crude concrete crenellations in the skyline.

There's a halfpipe sloped against the side of a house and a broken skateboard lies wheelless in the thorny intestines of a dog rose.

In the centre of the street six children lie side by side at the base of a makeshift plywood ramp. We stop for a second or two to witness the coming spectacle. A red headed teenager frantically peddles a Diamondback BMX bike full tilt at the plywood ramp. Remember this is the 1980s - stuntmen like Eddie Kidd and Evel Knieval are gods. However, this ginger freckle faced waif is no Kidd. We watch as his bike doesn't quite clear the six rows of children. We turn away as the chubby boy cries out in pain.

Before us stands a three-storey mid terrace. It's upper floor a merlon. Black curtains are drawn closed. Inside, the local semi pro skateboarder opens his first edition copy of dungeons and dragons and offers to take on the mantle of dungeon master. The other boys in the room argue between themselves about who is going to play which class.

We notice a younger boy sitting at the back of the room. He's dressed entirely in ill-fitting, hand-me-down clothes that we suspect may have once belonged to some of the boys in this room. He stops leafing through a White Dwarf magazine and pleads with the dungeon master to allow him to play.

He's told, for the third and final time, that no he cannot play because he's too young. Disheartened, he sits in silence, transfixed on the game playing out before him. During breaks in the game, he occupies his attention on the countless painted lead miniatures displayed around the room. Nobody notices him slipping a space orc called 'Mr Cool' into his pocket.
 

paranoid marvin

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I didn't play D&D, but I probably would have given the chance. In company, the game of choice was usually Risk, or the latest ZX Spectrum 48k release; which kind of puts me in the same realm of which you speak
 

kythe

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I've played D&D here and there but as interesting as I find the concept, I find I prefer painting miniatures. It started with me painting miniatures specifically for use in D&D games, then evolved into me realizing I'm more interested in that than the game.
 

AllanR

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When I was a teen, I found a gaming club where AD+D, Traveller, V+V (Villains and Vigilantes), and Aftermath, were the common role playing games.
I still play on occasion, but we use a hybrid home-brew rule-set.
 

Foxbat

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I voted no but that needs to be qualified by saying that the only reason I never played was the lack of other people interested in it in my area. I suspect, had I found a few folk to play with I’d have become hooked.
 

Dave

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I played from 1980 up until about 1987, but I preferred playing Traveller if given a choice. As others have said, finding enough other local people interested was the limiting factor to playing any table-top RPG before the internet. (Much easier at University or College.)
 

Berlyn

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Yes. I play once a month with my wife and six of our close friends. We actually hire a professional DM for our sessions, as we all just don't have the time to focus on session preparation. It's nice to be able to just turn up, eat some pizza, drink a few beers and roll some Nat 20s (or Nat 1s of you're our Paladin).
 

reiver33

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I played both D&D and Traveller back in the 70s, Diplomacy in the 80s, got married in the 90s.
 

HareBrain

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D&D (specifically, AD&D), along with Runequest, MERP and Traveller, were the main focus of my life from my late teens to my early twenties. I certainly put more thought into it than my degree course.

Last year I gave a best man's speech for my friend Ian (who used to frequent Chrons as Aun Doorback), which drew on our first D&D experience. Afterwards, his wife's 14-year-old niece came up to me and gasped in clear admiration, "You played D&D in the 1980s? That's so cool!" Being thought cool for about the first time in my life was worth all the hassle of writing and rehearsing the bloody thing.

Here's the relevant section (Rufus is the couple's dog):

As for when I first met Ian, I invite you all to imagine a dingy suburban back room in the dark heartland of Bognor Regis in the first half of the 1980s. The evening presses dankly against the window like a horde of Rufuses licking the glass. Inside, the air is thick with cigarette smoke, as most air was in those days, and round a gaming table sit a collection of teenage boys, an unprepossessing variety of specimens, many of them contenders for Most Socially Awkward Male 1984. Presiding over the scene is the father of one of them, a gravel-voiced man wearing sunglasses even in the gloom, a fag in one hand and a seemingly bottomless glass of whisky in the other. The room echoes with the rattle of dice, which are watched with rapt attention as though vast fortunes have been staked on the results. Is this an illicit under-age gambling den? No, this was my first ever game of Dungeons and Dragons. Ian and I bonded immediately over the shared excitement of fighting imaginary goblins and throwing live chickens into dungeon rooms to trigger booby-traps. And as well as being the start of our friendship, I believe it was also the inception of Ian’s glittering and so far distinguished career. For one of the primary aims in the game of Dungeons and Dragons is to relieve hapless creatures of their treasure, and it can’t be a coincidence that within a few years Ian had begin his climb up the ranks of the Inland Revenue.
 

Brian G Turner

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White Dwarf magazine
Was it still covering all different RPGs in 1987? I stopped getting it when Games Workshop basically turned it into a Warhammer franchise monthly expanded rulebook.

And, yes, played basic D&D in the 1980's, then a year of intensive AD&D in 1994-95. My Chronicles of Empire series is basically a re-imagining of the latter, but with a focus on historical realism.
 

Lacedaemonian

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I played just a bit a long time ago. Not my favorite roleplaying game.

I mostly just wanted to say that your post was very well written, an evocative and vivid image of the time, place, and character.
Appreciate this, Victoria. I had a particularly impoverished childhood but it was rich in so many ways.
D&D (specifically, AD&D), along with Runequest, MERP and Traveller, were the main focus of my life from my late teens to my early twenties. I certainly put more thought into it than my degree course.

Last year I gave a best man's speech for my friend Ian (who used to frequent Chrons as Aun Doorback), which drew on our first D&D experience. Afterwards, his wife's 14-year-old niece came up to me and gasped in clear admiration, "You played D&D in the 1980s? That's so cool!" Being thought cool for about the first time in my life was worth all the hassle of writing and rehearsing the bloody thing.

Here's the relevant section (Rufus is the couple's dog):
I love this.
Was it still covering all different RPGs in 1987? I stopped getting it when Games Workshop basically turned it into a Warhammer franchise monthly expanded rulebook.

And, yes, played basic D&D in the 1980's, then a year of intensive AD&D in 1994-95. My Chronicles of Empire series is basically a re-imagining of the latter, but with a focus on historical realism.
1987 was the last year that D&D featured in White Dwarf. It started fazing out the non GW games thereafter. I love that these games informed your writing. I feel like I have missed out in having never played.

Yes. I play once a month with my wife and six of our close friends. We actually hire a professional DM for our sessions, as we all just don't have the time to focus on session preparation. It's nice to be able to just turn up, eat some pizza, drink a few beers and roll some Nat 20s (or Nat 1s of you're our Paladin).
This sounds awesome.

I played Dungeons and Dragons via mail. Very slow and intense. I did enjoy it. I became a high level Wizard. For all I know I'm still on some board somewhere fighting Dragons off.
I forgot people played these games via mail! A truly different time and place.

I voted no but that needs to be qualified by saying that the only reason I never played was the lack of other people interested in it in my area. I suspect, had I found a few folk to play with I’d have become hooked.
I share this experience and it has niggled away at me for thirty odd years.
 

Toby Frost

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I used to play it a bit when I was much younger, but I stopped decades ago. However, I started again during the pandemic. I still am in three games, which meet with differing regularity.

D&D is a fun game, and very slick (apart from the surprisingly clunky character creation process) but it has its limits and I'm starting to get a bit bored of it. I'd like to give some less "heroic" games like Alien, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or Call of Cthulhu a go, but I think you need quite a sophisticated party for them to work.
 

Lacedaemonian

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I guess I was lazily referring to all table top roleplaying games as D&D which I appreciate might irritate some of you.
 

reiver33

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And of a similar bent - Tunnels & Trolls, Runequest and Stormbringer? (Unsure of the last one without Googling but it featured Elric)
 

Dave

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I found Runequest superior to AD&D but the rules were more complicated, and also I didn't own a copy. Anyhow, as I said, the problem was finding some people to play with. I would meet some people once a week in a community centre where all kinds of war gaming was also going on, but then "life" came along in 1988 and put a stop to that..
 

Rodders

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I've not had the opportunity to play any role playing games and i regret it as it looks like an amazing hobby. To be honest, i think that Warhammer 40000 is more in my wheel house than D&D.

I did go through a phase of painting the Judge Dredd miniatures as a teenager, which i found to be an excellent hobby and wouldn't mind picking it back up.
 

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