My mom got me the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (the Moldvay boxed set, to be specific) sometime in 1981 or ’82. It’s hard to say exactly when; the Moldvay edition was released in 1981, and the next revision didn’t come until 1983. I got it sometime between those two dates.
The exact timing doesn’t matter; the arrival of the boxed set changed my life. I didn’t quite understand it when I got it – reading through B1 Keep on the Borderlands, I thought the encounters were supposed to happen in the order they were keyed. While my friends’ older brothers played D&D, they didn’t have any interest in teaching us the game.
It wasn’t until I took a semester-long D&D class as part of an enrichment program that I truly understood how to play the game. That’s when I rolled up my first character, Battle Axe the Fighter and was introduced to such wonders as the wand of frost, sun sword, and a dragon slayer sword. after that, my friends and i started playing at school during lunch breaks, and less frequently, after school. There was talk of forming a D&D club in our elementary school, but it never happened; years later I learned from my sixth grade teacher that there were concerns over D&D’s alleged Satanic connections.
We’d go on to middle school and a golden age of RPGs, in which my friends and I played the classic Against the Giants adventure and launched a Twilight 2000 campaign. Heck, I even got to run a game of Star Frontiers. Things would peter out in high school, only to roar back in college. But it began with that singular boxed set back in the early 80s…