Dungeons & Dragons Just Turned 40

My first thoughts — after getting past “damn, I feel old” — are fond memories.

I first saw D&D during rookie band camp my freshman year of high school, when a trio of my friends tried to put together a game over their lunch break in the music storage room.

I don’t remember much about that particular game itself — I was just an observer — but I remember my immediate fascination with the very concept, marveling at the character sheets, the books, the dice.

Oh, the dice.

Later that year, with those friends and a couple of others, we formed a regular gaming group, though we wound up playing a different fantasy role-playing game; it was a couple of years before I played in a proper D&D game, which only lasted a summer.

Most of my role-playing game experience is with other games, actually, but through many years, games, and players, it all goes back to that day, those friends, and “the” game.

I Ain’t Afraid of No Zeitgeist

Along with most of the nation, I spent some time last night watching our annual grand football spectacle.

I’m not exactly a hard-core football fan — I understand the game and can enjoy it — but watching the Super Bowl is practically a requirement of American citizenship.

Terry Border made a great point about that obligation last night:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js I tend to agree. Skipping either event feels like opting out of our culture.

Mind you, there are times when I’d feel just fine opting out of our culture. It’s not like I need to burn a few hours basking in the glow of millionaires pummeling one another in between commercials for terrible beer and the new shows on Fox …

But then what would I have to talk about with coworkers the next day in the office?

I suppose it’s good and necessary to have common cultural touchstones like the Super Bowl, other sporting events, rodent weather reports, and so on. Otherwise there would be even more awkward conversational pauses around the old water cooler.

Me, I prefer the new water cooler — Twitter.

Why wait for the office when you can enjoy wit,

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js whimsy,

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and ruminations

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js in real time.

The First Time Buck Tried to Kill Gordie

I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned it or not, but I’m a gamer.

These days that means mostly card and board games, but I have a history with role-playing games, and some of my most enduring friendships were forged in and around RPG tables during my high school and college years.

In high school, my friends and I met for regular gaming sessions on Friday afternoons. We did so at a friend’s country house (which, in the context of the small town I grew up in, meant anything outside the city limits, basically).

The driveway to the friend’s house, which was a dirt driveway that lay just off a dirt road that lay just off a country highway, was a quarter-mile stretch of straight, hard dirt. It was tree-lined on each side, pleasant and shady, which made it a lovely track for a short walk.

One game day afternoon, I was catching a ride with my friend Buck.

(Note: All names herein have been changed, usually to embarrassing alternatives.)

As Buck turned from the dirt road onto the dirt driveway, we found ourselves facing two of our friends, Clint (who lived there) and Gordie. The pair had evidently decided to go for a short walk, probably to get the mail, whilst awaiting our arrival.

Clint immediately stepped out of the way. Gordie, however, stayed put, forcing Buck to stop the car. Gordie then walked up and sat on the hood.

I glanced at Buck.

I saw the look on his face.

“Bad id-” I began.

Too late.

Buck had already hit the accelerator, and we were off.

I don’t know what speed we got up to — probably, honestly, less than it felt like in those terrified moments — but after a few seconds of hard acceleration, Buck braked. Hard.

Gordie shot forward, took a couple of comically large, gawky, attempting-to-catch-his-balance steps, then collapsed face-first in a cloud of dust.

The cap he had been wearing fluttered gently to the ground a few feet away.

Gordie lay still.

The dust settled.

“Oops,” Buck said.

Clint came running up from behind as we stepped out of the car.

Gordie remained face-down in the road as we approached, and I really thought, for just a moment, that we might have killed him.

Just as Buck was tentatively reaching out to touch him, Gordie coughed and cursed.

As all ended well, we still laugh about this.