or learn more

RPG Memories

Feb 24, 2004

As I young’in (ages 11 to 18) I was absolutely obsessed with role playing games. I remember that my first exposure was due a kid named Billy Mitchell (aka Max) from Gaithersburg, MD whose father (a lawyer) owned a small house nearby in Pasadena. Billy was an odd kid, and at the time was the coolest person that I had ever met up to that point (and more than he will ever know; he was a huge influence in my life). I remember that he had a large bag filled with thick D&D tomes, comics, and various other curiosities. Billy loved D&D, and I imagined that he was quite happy to corrupt the minds of the local kids: myself, John Irwin (now a B-More local DJ and crack-head last I heard), and Frank Evans. Whenever Billy’s parent(s) dragged him to the Pasadena house, we would hook up and spend countless hours running through countless adventures. This went on for about 4 years. Eventually, Billy faded away (he was about 16, so I imagine that priorities changed), but the role playing continued. Prior to this time, I played a part-time role as neighborhood DM (by this time there were about 8 regular players: myself, John, Frank, Mike Jones, Ryan Terpay, Mark Ryan, Bret Kirbe, and Jason something-or-other) between the times when Billy was able to attend the games, where he naturally took over. Billy was easily the most imaginative DM that I had even seen during my hundreds of games throughout MD in my 8-year run. Even as a child of 12 his campaigns were extremely imaginative, and could not be matched in content. Later in my life I ran into many fantasy and sci-fi novels that had hints of Billy’s past campaigns, but nothing that was plagiarised by any means. In hindsight, the kid was extremely well-read. As imaginative as Billy was with spinning tales, he was equally rigid on following the rule books to the letter (at that time we were mainly focused on D&D-proper). Likewise, during my early campaigns I followed his example and mainly ran short supplemental adventures revolving around adventures that Billy had already established. Eventually however, my GM style took on its own character rooted largely in my own nature. That is, while the adventures themselves were quite good (not to toot my own horn here), they were mainly designed to be extremely flexible. While Billy had a nack for constructing complex static storylines often filling entire legal pads, my own stories were usually constructed as trees designed for flexibility. Very often during play the tree itself would grow branches never before imagined. I was the GM, but really the story was constructed by the players. My joy came in the form of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Player’s Handbook (1st and 2nd editions). That is, I can’t begin to imagine how many times I read both versions cover to cover, and by the end the margins contained as many notes as actual text within. Focusing, and eventually modifying the rules and intricacies of the game appealed to my nature. I had at one point created my own DM/PH guides, that I dubbed versions 2.666, using WordPro on my C64 (no lie, I cracked the software protection myself: you see, the original WordPro disks had bad bytes written at certain sectors that the program would check for, but the C64 copy command wouldn’t transfer. So to crack the program I had to actually write my own copier that walked the whole disk and transferred it byte by byte to another disk, it took forever, but it worked. Eventually I got a program called something like Nibbler from a friend and trashed my own creation). My versions were my own definitive guides containing many modified rules, non-battle experience guides, new player races and their attributes, usage guides for the 2-sided di (i.e. a coin), new monsters, modified monsters, different breeds of elves (long before Drizzt and Irda), new weapons (based on historical weapons and those of my own design), new player classes, a guide for Paladins, modified player/classes tables, a chapter on goblins (served a similar role as orcs in Tolkien), instructions on using PlayerGen and NPCDB, my 2nd and 3rd programs that I ever wrote using BASIC on my C64, and a complete historical perspective on my own campaign based in the world of Oceana (props to Mr. Orwell). My DMG and PH versions 2.666 evolved over the course of 5 years and was a massive undertaking. I had eventually planned on trying to get it published as its own game or as a supplement to D&D ala Forgotten Realms and DragonLance. Alas, time passed and Michael grew older and more filled with angst and eventually version 2.666 passed into the dustbin of my own personal history. As I sit here, I sincerely would truly trade my G5 for those version 2.666 manuals. (cue Kenny G music playing softly in the background).


No Comments, Comment or Ping

Reply to “RPG Memories”