Tales From Behind The Screen

Around 1980 a friend found the Dungeons and Dragons Basic set in our local Woolworth's in the town of Wrexham, North Wales. I was intrigued so decided to buy it myself. We adventured through the Keep on the Borderlands with a couple of friends and gained a couple of levels but were a bit stymied when we found Woolworth's were not stocking the expert set to continue our characters. I found a shop in Chester that stocked Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. That was a whole new start. I sat and read the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual for hours. I played short adventures with friends but we never seemed to be able to get a continuous group together.

We then discovered a teacher at the school used to play and we convinced him to run an after-school club. Here I played my first character Targ Steelfist II, a barbarian using rules found in a White Dwarf magazine. I remember some of the rest of the party, Dale played a Dwarf fighter, Wayne was Arafachance the ranger, Salsy the magic user and Neil the assassin who we all thought was a monk.

Another shop opened in Chester which stocked games we had only read about in White Dwarf. We tried most of them. Some fitted our group, others didn't. Call of Cthulhu became a great favourite and it is a game I play still. We enjoyed Twilight 2000 and Boot Hill. Middle Earth, Golden Heroes and Judge Dredd worked well. We tried Paranoia but that didn't really work with our group and I don't think we understood the premise. Being a bunch of murder hobos Pendragon was lost on us.
Our summer break consisted of role playing. Pete, one of our group, had a brother, Colin who set up an AD&D game. We played all sorts, we didn’t have enough money to go out so gaming became one of our daily activities.
Over time friends and groups drift apart, find new things to do, get jobs, married etc. I stopped role playing for many years. I tried to start a small group with my students in the international school I worked but it wasn’t the same as those chaotic party days. I left my books somewhere and gave up.
Over the last couple of years, I have found myself teaching 12-year old’s. One of the students explained he played Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition with his dad. When my timetable cleared a bit I set up a break time group. Knowing they didn’t have long left until high school I didn’t start them on a long quest at first level but decided to give them the puzzling challenge of White Plume Mountain using 1st Edition rules. I pre-rolled the characters and we spent a few weeks exploring Keraptis’ lair. The students were successful with only around 4 deaths out of 10. We continued this group, had a TPK in The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, and an unsuccessful challenge of Tomb of Horrors.
At the same time a friend of mine wanted to start role playing again and also to introduce his children to it. He started DMing Dragon Warriors at Conexio Cafe in Albany Creek, Brisbane. We have a good group and have recently changed to Call of Cthulhu using 6th Edition rules. I will write about these adventures in my Call of Cthulhu page.
While we were playing at school other members of staff would come and watch and they expressed an interest in starting a new group. After not playing for years I now had three groups going. For my school colleagues we have started the Temple of Elemental Evil which I am writing about on my AD&D page.
Over the last few months I have spent a lot of money on eBay replenishing old stocks of 1st Edition books and it’s great to be role playing regularly again.


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