Most of the people that I have met started role-playing in high school; so, I guess I got a late start. It was 1997, and I was living in the Burke East Dorm at the University of Alabama when I was first introduced to role-playing and Vampire the Masquerade. I hadn’t made very many friends in college yet. However, each night when I came back to the dorm, I saw a group of people playing Magic the Gathering, and eventually they and I started to talk. I had played Rage and Blood War and a few other trading card games in high school, but I had never really done much more than buy a starter deck and a few packs. So, I understood Magic, but I had never played it.
Eric, Jim, Justin Rich, Matt, and the others were into role playing and even went to LARPs, and as we became friends, I was invited to play in their one shot Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition games. Initially, I didn’t accept their invitations, but I did sit in and watch one game. Those of you familiar with AD&D 2E will understand when I say that it was a very, very confusing game to watch, especially for someone who had only played a few board games like Risk and Monopoly prior to that. THAC0 still gives me a headache.
I guess it was a few weeks later when Matt invited me to play in a Vampire: The Dark Ages game. Matt was a big fan of White Wolf games, and he had several of the core books for Second Edition. He sat down with me and explained the rules and helped me build a character. I’d been a writer, and in high school I wrote a LOT of terrible poems and stories in my notebooks. So when Matt explained the storytelling system to me and the idea of creating a persona, I understood that immediately. Together we built my first character, a female Toreador duelist looking for repentance. Obviously, that character was somewhere between Wareador and drama queen. The perfect character for a guy who wrote bad poetry right?
During the course of the adventure, however, my character got into an argument with another character and my character stomped off angrily. It was first time playing and I really didn’t understand the underlying rules of role playing, such as don’t split the party and play well with others. Split from the group, my character stumbled into a village just before dawn. Seeking shelter, my character hid in one of the houses, but unfortunately, the village was not populated with mortals but with werewolves. Those werewolves ripped my character apart.
Even though my character died, I had a great time. I was pretty pissed off about my character dying, but nevertheless, I had fun. A few weeks later, I went and bought a copy of West End Games Star Wars Revised & Expanded Edition because I was a huge Star Wars fan back then. I ran my first game shortly afterwards and I’m still role-playing. So, thanks to Matt, Justin, Eric, Justin, Jim and all the others for bringing me into role-playing.