Plus it is my 100th Post! Woo Hoo!
My first experience of roleplaying games came when my uncle gave me a gift certificate to Sears. Now back in the day, the Sears-Roebuck catalog was a big honking deal at Christmastime because you could look at all these toys you couldn't find anywhere else. But even more bizarre that year was that the Sears store was selling a box set of Basic Dungeons & Dragons. I was a huge fan of knights as a kid, not to mention Narnia and the Lord of the Rings books (admittedly I had only seen the animated movies), so I managed to talk my parents into letting me buy the box set.
Despite the assertions that this game was huge, I found it very difficult to find people to game with me. My sister was only marginally interested in hanging out with me, since we were getting into full-blown sibling rivalry (plus we shared a room, which sucked). My only real option was gaming with a friend at school, the one kid who might have been nerdier than I was, a poor boy with the unfortunate name Benjamin Woodcock. We quickly began, as many did, playing this polyglot of D&D/AD&D materials generally determined by what we owned.
Ben and I were ridiculous power gamers at the time. I tended to run the game while he played Ptah from Deities and Demigods. It was that bad. Eventually I moved away from Ben and transitioned from elementary to high school (Atlanta schools were K-7/8-12 at the time) which opened my social life up to both more and older youth. It didn't take long for me to locate the gamers, a small coterie of social misfits being led around by a beautiful redhead named Sabrina who was distinctly enjoying being queen bee of the nerd hive. The game? FASA Star Trek.
The game was run by this adult friend of Sabrina's family, a creepy guy with a Gygaxian neck beard who probably should've had a background check done. Actually Sabrina's whole family was a little strange: lots of guns around the house, early sci-fi cosplay, and taking their 13 year-old daughter to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the writing of this article I was surprised to find Sabrina on the internet. It looks like she turned out okay developing software for healthcare companies. Good for her.
When my family left Atlanta I ended up in Virginia and spent most of my high school years there. I had a difficult problem finding gamers in the small western Virginia city we lived in, but in the meantime I had discovered at a comic book store a game that seemed to fit one of my other great teenage vices: comic books.
A couple of things Champions brought to the table. First, obviously, was superheroes. But it also had a point-buy system, which none of the games I had played had. Suddenly I could build whatever I imagined, and I was imaging a lot. There's NPC's appearing in my "25 Villains of Christmas" that are coming out of that era.
What I didn't have was a group. For whatever reason the RPG scene just wasn't happening at my school, and I was too much caught up with other things to do more than make reams of heroes and villains on lined notebook paper and keep in a folder.
Thankfully, the world was about to open up much, much wider for me. Stay tuned...