The Game That Started It All

I have always played games as far as I can remember.  My brother is eight years older than I and tried a number of games on me such as Squad Leader and Starship Trooper, two Avalon Hill box games.  Back in 1979 I was introduced to D&D and all of my friends were playing the game.  I vaguely remember going to the hobby store and looking at both the box game of Dungeons & Dragons, but also the Player’s Handbook of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  I settled for something a bit cheaper, because I never really had much money back then.  Metagaming in those days published a series of tiny games sold in plastic bags called Melee and Wizard.

This is my original copy of the rules, stored and kept for 32 years:

The rules are rather simple and straight forward, which amounted to twenty-one pages that covered character generation, combat, and long term development.  Utilizing only six-sided dice, the game could be played almost anywhere and at any time.

Soon after buying Melee (The Fantasy Trip), I realized that gaming and RPGs were something I simply loved to do and would occupy the next thirty-five years of my life, starting with Melee then jumping to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and on to all the variant games such as Villains & Vigilantes, RoleMaster, SpaceMaster, Champions, Star Wars, and a hundred other titles.

This is the original book I bought back in the Fall of 1979 and still hold as a treasured part of my youth — more than a thousand characters and stories were spawned from this single book and I have carried it from Comstock Park Michigan, to Japan, to Washington DC and hopefully soon to other parts of the world.  It is the one book that simply captures my imagination.  Sadly, I do not get much time to play table-top RPGs any longer, but perhaps that too may change here very soon.

I also have my first copy of Dragon Magazine still, from December of 1979.  It is extremely brittle these days and should be kept in a plastic bag — but I always find comfort paging through the aged magazine:

I wonder how many other peoples’ lives were changed by these three great books.  I know that for me, they changed my life forever.



  1. The Fantasy Trip was awesome. What is even better is that you still have it. I have played GURPS forever and Steve Jackson has been my go to game designer. I always keep my eye out for Fantasy Trip when I good to old bookstores.

    My life certainly changed during my beginning years of role-playing. Wish I still had everything I bought then. I enjoyed the post.

  2. I also spent countless hours in the pages of that same Player’s Handbook. When my friends were busy I’d use the charts and tables and create my own solo adventures. And its sister book, the Dungeon Masters Guide, was so thick and full of goodness. Many magic items and dungeons leaped out of those pages into my lap. I also have all my original AD&D books and enjoy a quick browse thru them from time to time. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been without it. I hope some of that magic can touch my kids’ lives too.

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