Your first “insert life changing event here”.

Everyone has a first something or other that had an astounding effect on their lives, good or bad. Whether it’s your first kiss, your first car, your first girlfriend/boyfriend or even your first broken bone or hospital stay. Well if you’ve read any of my previous blogs here at Pandoracon, you’ll know I’m stuck in my past when it comes to writing these blogs, and this time will be no exception as I write about “My First Dungeons & Dragons Character”. Since a lot of the cultural references I’ll be making are going to be from 30 years ago, for the benefit of our younger audience, I’ll be linking to a lot of Wikipedia articles to help with context.

I’ll be writing most of this from memory, so some of the dates and details are likely to be at least somewhat erroneous or inconsistent with historical fact. Keep this in mind. Now. . . Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!. (If you don’t get that reference, then you need to do some research by way of watching a whole crapload of 80’s fantasy movies until you do)

Now if you’ve read my previous blog on Nerd/Geek Triggers, you’ll know that it was actually the movie Hawk the Slayer that got me interested in Dungeons and Dragons, way back in 1982 (We didn’t see the movie in the theater, we saw it on Betamax a couple years after it came out). Given it was movies like this, and others like Conan the Barbarian or The Beastmaster that ultimately influenced me to play D&D, you would think my first character would have been a fighter, a rogue, or even a magician, but that is not the case.

You see, back in the day I was worried. . . VERY worried that playing Dungeons and Dragons would have an evil, negative influence on my spirituality and moral character. I never really told anyone this at the time, and I definitely didn’t think about it on those terms. Even so, I was so worried about this, that I decided, after reading about all the available character types, that I was going to play a Lawful Good Cleric. Because of the fact that in the grand universe of Dungeons and Dragons, and in the World of Greyhawk there didn’t seem to be a “one true God” to choose from, I did my research on the gods that were available and I chose Forseti, son of Baldr and god of justice.

Some may think that this irrational fear of D&D’s moral influence came from things such as the movie Mazes and Monsters, but I didn’t see that fictionalized movie about falsely reported real life events until years later. Though when I found out that later studies showed that D&D has no reported causal effect on mental health or morality, it made me feel a lot better.

So, my first character, a lawful good cleric named “Cornelius Agrippa” was rolled up using the rules from the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set (the magenta box version). We (my brother and friends) quickly moved up to the Expert Set, and within another year we had moved on to, and I had converted Cornelius up to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Before you know it we had copies of the AD&D Players Handbooks, DM’s Guide and Deities and Demigods. I played Cornelius like a warrior priest, who never attacked a human unless defending himself, but showed no mercy for the various monsters you come across in day to day life as a traveling adventurer. My trusty mace (I mean of course Cornelius’ trusty mace) served as the hand (fist) of god (Forseti) delivering justice to the evil beasts who plagued the land of Greyhawk.

My brother and our friends played D&D mostly on weekends, and we weren’t fans of those types of players that created their own adventures only to pad them with so much gold and experience as to artificially inflate and level up their characters.  So it took me several years to advance Cornelius up to 8th and 9th level, when I was finally allowed to bring in some holy muscle. I “hired” a new character as Cornelius’ sidekick, a Paladin named Etienne. Etienne was also Lawful Good, cause even though I had grown from the worries of my early days about D&D and morality, I had gotten used to playing LG characters.

I continued playing Cornelius (with Etienne in tow) until he was 12th level. We had gone on to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition by then. I had begun making plans to build a mountain top abbey of my own (pretend I was speaking for Cornelius there), since I had so much platinum, gold and silver now, it was more than I would ever need for adventuring, I had to do something with it.

We stayed primarily in the realm of Grayhawk, but he had also played plenty of the independent modules as well. We tried Forgotten Realms once, but it just didn’t do it for us. I had gotten VERY interested in the Dragonlance campaign setting, primarily because I had read the three introductory books. But I just couldn’t get past the fact that as a cleric in that world, in the age that was currently being used, you could not use spells or turn undead, because the gods had recused themselves from the world. I tried playing a new character in the Dragonlance setting with a new DM, but it just wasn’t the same without my Cornelius.

After that things changed, I found new games to play, eventually all my gaming friends were stolen from me by Magic the Gathering and I nearly stopped playing games altogether…but that discussion is for another time, and probably for a less diverse crowd. (Kids these day love their card games…. for some reason)

So tell me something in the comments about your first. . . something (hopefully something geek related and PG rated). Your first RPG character, your first comic book, your first car. . .



6 Responses to “Your first “insert life changing event here”.

  • My first geek trigger was the TV show, Star Trek. The series ran for only three seasons and I was not even born. I discovered it on syndication. For a six year old it was visually appealing and had, on it’s surface, rather simple story lines. Watching them later, I would see the more of the complexities of the show (there were many).

    • Wow, Star Trek at 6 years old? Well I suppose that’s not too young, I saw Star Wars when I was 6 and I grasped it well enough, but as you said, as I grew older I was able to appreciate it more and more. I actually never saw Star Trek until MUCH later than that. I’m unable to remember exactly when I first saw STTOS, but it was likely sometime around 13 (1984).

  • Wow… I had to really think hard on that. I have two that come easily to mind. One geek-related event and one non-geek related. When I was 5 my dad was stationed in Japan. We lived on base. As such there wasn’t a whole lot of American TV to pick from, but we got all the Japanese channels. I remember flipping channels one day and I ran across a whole bunch of shows, “Gorranger,” “Gatchaman,” “Cutey Honey,” and more… sentai and anime… it blew me away and I was hooked. That early exposure, and the fact that my parents were both SF/Fantasy geeks really shaped who I am today.
    The other, non-geeky, thing was when I was in the 5th grade. It was the end of the year and we were picking our electives for 6th grade. I had a choice between band, choir, woodshop, or art. I chose band. We all got to meet with the band director to pick what we wanted to play. I sat that there thinking, flute or clarinet, when the band director, a woman, said “Now, don’t think only girls can play flute or only boys can play trumpet…pick what you want.” So I picked trumpet. That really was the biggest life-changer I had in my early years.

  • My first SF novel was Star Gate by Andre Norton. I was only 7 and I’d swiped it out of my sister’s bedroom. I didn’t even know what SF was, & got so VERY confused when the people had 6 fingers & their hair turned dark as they got old. But when it got to the magic gate, I was hooked forever. My sister beat me up for getting in her stuff, but it was worth it.

  • I have had several of these type of moments in my life. The first? probably caused by Star Trek. I recall watching with my father who was a mechanical engineer and asking him about how the ship would work. He dismissively said it was fiction – impossible. His reply to me asking why was “because Professor Einstein saya so.” He worked hard and refused to spend his off time explaining General Relativity to a elementary school kid. I really liked the show, more for the Naval/military command structure than the science, but this pissed me off. I visited the school library determined to find out who this Einstein jerk was. As one can imagine, I did not find anything too useful and the librarian was equally dimissive when I explained my problem. This being LONG before the Web, I basically stewed until I could get access to more info, which was during one of teh thrift store shopping expeditions my mother went on every weekend. I found an old dog-eared falling apart copy of “The ABC of Relativity” by Bertrand Russel. That started a life long need to learn.

    Gaming wise I think the first time I realized that games could contain entire worlds would be when I played Adventure on the Atari 2600. It gave me this feeling of excitement and wonder, most recently reproduced by Skyrim! I discovered Role-playing games in Jr High, an while the fantasy of D&D was awesome, when I found Gamma World, something clicked. I loved being the GM the most, doing my best to describe ruined future cities in terms of how a mutated human from a tribal village would percieve them. THAT was the fun for me, creating the world that the players romped in.

    I have lots more “epiphanies,” but this is too long already!

    • Wow, Gamma World! I had forgotten about that one. Blast from the past. I never got to play it, but I remember seeing in the shelves. Now, after reading about the setting, I really wish I had played it back in the day, as I am a HUGE fan of post apocalyptic fiction. Thanks for your contribution to the topic 🙂

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