Art and Writing by David Finley
The first time I played Dungeons and Dragons, President Clinton was in his first term of office. I was fifteen.
A friend of mine from band class invited me to play, and since I loved comic books, Star Wars, and fantasy novels so much, it seemed like the perfect game. Now I know what you're thinking: band class? Dungeons and Dragons? Comic books?
That made me the coolest kid in school, right?
Yep. Sitting in the basement game-room at my best-friend John's house, armed with a warm, flat, generic Mountain Dew knock-off and some really weird blue dice, I eagerly embarked down the rabbit hole of nerdom. For my first character, I decided on a dwarf fighter. I didn't know much about dwarves, but they looked really cool in the pictures inside the 2nd edition Player's Handbook.
Plus, they had awesome beards.
As the session began, the odor of cheap microwave burritos and stale farts hung heavy in the air. That's what I like to imagine a real dungeon would smell like so it made for good atmosphere. However, I later learned a real dungeon probably doesn't have anything as pleasant smelling in it as cheap microwave burritos.
The dungeon master, John's younger brother, Mark, wove a tale about a mad wizard named, Hallister, who was unleashing chaos upon the Realms from somewhere deep in the Undermountain, a subterranean dungeon nestled snuggley beneath a rich and thriving town called, Waterdeep.
Needless to say, our adventuring group vowed to mess his shit up. No need to thank us. It was all in a day's work.
As we braved the terrain, our scout came running back with dire news, not about an insane spellcaster, but instead a band of orcs, who had heard our clattering and were coming to kill us.
With weapons in hand and dick jokes at the ready, we prepared for battle.
My friend, David, played a wizard character, and once the orcs started pouring in, cast a wall of fire spell in the middle of the invading group. Unable to stop their momentum several of the orcs plunged into the flame, dying quickly in its terrible heat. I marveled at David's magical might.
David just took it in stride. He was a veteran.
The orcs who had made it past the flame wall fared no better as the fighters, including my dwarf, halted their charge with shields and swords, as our scouts emerged from the shadows, stabbing the orcs from behind.
I think one orc got stabbed in the kidney, which hurts really bad, but he deserved it.
We celebrated our victory with raised fists, feeling truly happy and triumphant. That night I, a rugged and impressively bearded dwarf braved the tunnels of a lost dungeon, and I had dealt evil a heavy blow right in the you-know-where.
I was hooked.
Dungeons & Dragons was a reprieve from the confusion of adolescence, and as my friends and I journeyed through imaginary lands playing made up people with exotic names, the bonds of friendship, companionship, and brotherhood grew stronger and deeper in a very real way. To this day, I consider those guys to be among the best of my friends.
We never did find Hallister, though.
Dungeons and Dragons is © and property of the really nice people over at Wizards of the Coast. Maybe some day they will offer me a sweet job.