Dungeons & Dragons, the legendary roleplaying game, was the first tabletop roleplaying game I was ever exposed to. But it wasn’t the first roleplaying game I ever played.
My first roleplaying game was one of the several D&D-style games on the PLATO computer system, and it was through PLATO that our local group was exposed to D&D. The IPFW campus had three PLATO terminals, and there was a small group of local people who programmed and played on them. Even though the PLATO system was comparatively extremely primitive by today’s standards it was still able to support multi-player gaming for a variety of genres, including aerial combat, strategy board games, trivia games, Star Trek simulations and, of course, several fantasy roleplaying games.
It was because of that system, playing those games and the availability of terminals locally that drew a gamer from another university to IPFW when he was working a summer job nearby. One day, he happened to remark that we didn’t need these terminals to play roleplaying games, there were rules and rulebooks that allowed people to play them on a tabletop. He then brought out his copy of the D&D rulebooks, got us to create characters, and the rest was history. When he left at the end of summer, another local obtained a similar set, and I wound up being the Dungeon Master for a local group of friends. VERy soon after I discovered gaming conventions (particularly GenCon and Winter Fantasy) other game systems (such as Champions and DragonStorm) and new friends within the gaming community. Since then, I played many D&D games and participated in many campaigns, both local and once in the RPGA Living City campaign over the years. While I played other systems more often, the popularity and ever-present persistence of the game means that every so often I will get into another D&D campaign.