: My roleplaying summary
When I was a kid, I played Zork, on the computer. That was the start.
Then I played freeform face-to-face Zork. I was the computer.
Then I played D&D, in some incarnation, I'm not clear which. I was not allowed to have a cloak of invisibility like I'd seen on the TV show, and I suffered confustion about just who was the Dungeon Master: was it Matt, or was it this little character with a beard?
Then I played freeform bad fantasy fiction. I was Terry Brooks, Robert Asprin and Dennis McKiernan, smashed together and regressed to 13 years old.
Then I played Star Frontiers, briefly.
Then I played more freeform fantasy and some freeform Star Frontiers.
At some point concurrently I played D&D, in some other unclear incarnation.
Then I played a single session of M.E.R.P. I was not allowed to be Legolas. I know, imagine that, but I was affronted.
Then I played Talislanta.
Then I played a cyberpunk homebrew, rooted in Cyberpunk 1st and Space Master.
Then I played Shadowrun.
Then I played Millennium's End.
Then I played more Talislanta.
Then I played Cyberpunk 1st.
Then I played AD&D 2nd.
Then I played Ars Magica 2nd.
Then I played more Shadowrun.
Meanwhile - from Shadowrun to Shadowrun - I played single sessions of a variety of games, including Pendragon, Paranoia, other people's homebrews, and Vampire 1st.
Then I played the Ennead's freeform Ars Magica-esque game.
Then I played Mage.
Then I played a single session of Over the Edge, which I fumbled badly.
Then I played Mage + Nephilim.
Then I played Ars Magica 3rd-ish.
Then I designed and played the Cheap & Cheesy Fantasy Game.
Then I played some ill-fated Ars Magica conversions and homebrews, including one especially hilarious Pendragon conversion.
Then I played our own freeform Ars Magica game.
In the middle of that game I a) wrote kill puppies for satan and later played it, and b) connected with the Forge.
Then I played demo sessions of Charnal Gods, My Life with Master, The Pool (technically the Anti-pool), Universalis, John Wick's freeform Harry Potter game, and probably another game or two, plus ten-minute demos of half a dozen games, including notably The Riddle of Steel and The Burning Wheel.
Then I designed and played Dogs in the Vineyard.
Then I played a playtest session of Breaking the Ice.
Then I played Primetime Adventures.
Then I played playtest sessions Under the Bed and Polaris.
Then I played one-shots of The Mountain Witch and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
Then I played more Primetime Adventures.
Then our freeform Ars Magica game ended.
Then I played still more Primetime Adventures.
Then I played a zillion playtest sessions of The Dragon Killer, not one of which was fun.
Then I played playtest sessions of Shock:, Shooting the Moon, and 1001 Nights.
Then I designed and played In a Wicked Age, which I'm still in the process of writing.
Then I played Dogs in the Vineyard.
Then I played Agon.
Then I played a 3-session playtest of Sign In Stranger.
Now I'm playing Shock: and I think we're about to play Sorcerer, at last.
1. On 2006-10-17, Vincent wrote:
Insert Chill and that weird proto-Talislanta Atlantis game - anybody remember it? It was by Bard Games. John Harper, you're a Talislanta nerd, you know the game I mean? - anyhow insert them up there in the neighborhood of Millennium's End.
Well, using "then I played" makes it appear a lot more clear-cut than it really was. Like, there was total overlap between Shadowrun, Talislanta, Chill, that Atlantis game, Millennium's End, Cyberpunk, and Ars 2nd, for instance.
What it really is is: pre-high school, early high school, late high school & early college, late college, Ennead period, post-Ennead period, Forge period, this year.
Yep, I know the one. It was just called Atlantis. It was weird and cool and had tons and tons of crazy details about the length of people's pants and eyelid tattoos and stuff. One of Steve Sechi's (the creator) buddies kind of went off his rocker while he was writing material for it.
I know I think I've commented on this before. Until you said it, I thought I was the only person who had ever done the freefor Zork with me as the computer thing. Egotistical of me, really. I'm sure there were lots of kids (geeky kids, yes) that did something similar.
I am interested by (though not surprised by) the fact that you seem to have skipped the GURPS, Champions/HERO, DC Heroes, mid-80s highly detailed character generation with point buy systems.
That may be because there's not much superheroic on the list at all--is that by design?
Good spot, Jay. I did play half a session of Capes there in the Forge period I forgot to mention, but otherwise you're right. I've never done any superhero roleplaying. I'm not much for superheroes in any medium.
The Ennead's freeform Ars Magica-esque game used GURPS character sheets when I played in it. However, we filled out our sheets and didn't balance points and then left the sheets in a notebook, so that's how much GURPS I've played.
Oh, and the race whose evolutionary niche was "sex slave". That was pretty messed up.
...and Space Master.
Speaking of Falling and Drowning -- the best part about that game were the pages and pages of "Damage Charts for Damage Type X". And in the far future of Space Master, there were a heck of a lot of ways to injure yourself. If there was a way for your character to die during character creation, it would've been Nirvana.
My first RPG experience was at school in the second grade. It was D&D, ostensibly the Basic/Expert edition but at that time the GM (who interestingly went on to be captain of the high school football team and valedictorian years later) had forgotten his dice. So...we free formed it.
I of course knew nothing of how the game was supposed to play anyway. My clearest memories of that game are that the other characters were all 3-5 level and didn't have a magic-user. So...with no input of my own, my character was a 1st level Magic User...with magic missle...and a wand of fireballs one of the other characters had but couldn't use.
I remember the adventure had us raiding the fortress of an insanely high level evil druid (beats me). I remember there were henchmen with flame throwers mounted on the battlements (beats me) and I was instrumental in defeating them with my wand. I remember clearly leaping from my seat and shouting "fight fire with fire" while pantomiming with my pencil/wand. I remember later we got captured and put in a cell and when one of the other characters quaffed (yes, we actually said "quaffed" in the second grade) a potion of gasseous form and the GM had the druid capture him in a jar and put him back in the cell where he took damage when he went back into normal form inside the jar. I remember the other players getting bored because it was impossible to escape from this druid and deciding to kill me for XPs. I remember realizing for the first time just how few 2 hit points really was, and how puny 1 magic missile was. I died. I remember the rest of the session was spent with the other players doing sadistic things with my corpse (yes this was second grade) until class started.
I was totally hooked.
Not having any money to buy this wonderful new game I copied what rules I could from the GMs book and once at home typed them on my moms old college manual type writer on that wonderful Onion Skin paper that's almost impossible to find any more. I remember the type writer had 2 font sizes and could also type in red and could do bold by back spacing and typing the same letter over. I had my "rules" thus totally formatted with bold and red words and everything (I also remember having to use a lower case "l" for the number "1". Strange that.
I only had 4 monsters: Orcs, Skeletons, Green Dragons, and White Dragons (beats me) and pretty much all I did was draw mazes on notebook paper and little iconic pictures of the monsters at the various dead ends and then my brother tried to get through the maze and fought the monster when he hit a dead end...I was a good maze drawer...I totally killed him dead so many times that he ran out of character names and starting using random silly sounds like "cockycoo" and "jucalay" (yes, I still remember those names from the way back machine...strange that).
My mom and grandma eventually bought me the D&D Basic, Expert, and Companion sets for various holidays and then we got into AD&D not even realizing that it wasn't the same game at first.
Having no money, I went on to hack together rules for Star Frontiers, The Dungeon Boardgame, the old Conquistador board game, FASAs Star Trek simulator, some hashed together combination of Twilight 2000 and Mercenaries Spies and Private Eyes, and some total hack job of of the Marvel Super Hero game based solely on the section in the back of Dragon Magazine with no idea what any of the rules meant.
The big games we played as a kid other than D&D was Twilight 2000 (I so totally wanted to own a LAV-25 when I grew up), Top Secret S.I. (including the Freelancers superhero version), Fantasy Roleplaying (the Bruce Galloway game published in regualar book format which was 1/2 history book, 1/4 RPG, and 1/4 minis wargame with the coolest magic system evar), Pendragon (to death...at one time we were on our 5th or 6th generation knights), Star Frontiers (especially with the Knight Hawks supplement), and the original Star Wars RPG.
We flirted with some flavor of Traveler but quickly decided that game was way annoying. Oh, and a bunch of the old Fantasy Games Unlimited stuff they used to advertise in Dragon. Bushido, and Psi World, and whatever the Greek game was...They had a really cool Egypt game too "Valley of the Pharoahs" that rocked.
A ton of old Avalon Hill board games in there too.
I didn't own any of those games (except Top Secret S.I...somewhere along the line I got that) which is why I took to hacking together my friends games. But once I got a job and started making good money I had to go back and buy for myself all those old games I played but couldn't afford as a kid...god bless e-bay.
In college I played more AD&D, Cyberpunk 2020 (that and Top Secret SI became my first "gotta have 'em all" splat book obsessions), more Pendragon, a bunch of Heroes Unlimited, some Warhammer Fantasy, a dabbling of Rifts, some Villains and Vigilantes, an aborted attempt at Hero (in our quest to find a supers game that didn't suck), an even more aborted attempt at Fantasy Hero (gawd we hated that system with a passion), some brief flirtation with GURPs before realizing that point buy systems were a total pain in the ass. A bunch of Ars Magica (Lion Rampant version) and a bunch of original Vampire and Werewolf. I abandoned White Wolf after Mage proved to not be Ars Magica fast forwarded to modern times (which I still say it should have been dammit). Bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting like a couple sessions of Paranoia and Toon and oddball stuff like that.
Lots more Avalon Hill games thanks to Wargames West catalogs
Then after college, lets see. A bunch of L5R, 7th Sea, Deadlands, basically whatever was hot on the wall of splats at the game store I frequented. Got more into boardgaming, increasingly euro stuff. Tried to get back into an AD&D group...that was one of those less than fun groups although I snagged a couple of the regular players away for board games and a pretty cool Orkworld campaign I ran.
Also did a bunch of Napoleonic Minis in there and some micro armor, and dabbled in Games Workshop...but their rules all sucked and their minis were way too expensive.
I found Orkworld by following Wick's exodus from AEG which
took me to his design diary on Gaming Outpost where I found some squirrely bizarre thing claiming to be a roleplaying game called Sorcerer...of course me and my AD&D buddies knew it wasn't a real roleplaying game cuz it only had 3 stats and no skills and was by some dude who didn't even write for a real roleplaying company, but summoning demons sounded cool so we tried it. Of course it sucked. I mean really, how can you call it a roleplaying game when the initiative, to-hit, and damage is all one roll...I mean come on.
But that brought me to the Forge, and the rest is history.
I still love the GURPS char gen with unbalanced points, then leave the sheet in a note book method. I haven't done it in a while. Maybe I'll ask Kip to bring over his giant pile o GURPS books and do a gen for the characters I'm currently playing.
I've played some with GURPS mechanics (at the low crunch end of the spectrum) and it's meh, but GURPS char gen I've always felt is a lot of fun. Way back in the day, we did GURPS char gen for ourselves as well. Still the only char gen system I'm familiar with that does good generation for early twenties college drop-outs.
Let's see. For me, like many people, it started with AD&D...sorta. The kid who taught me to play had the Dragonlance Adventures book and a worn-out copy of the Player's Handbook. So we faked it. Somewhere in there a photocopy of the Basic D&D set turned up, too. In reality, most of what we did was just a mashup of stuff.
Then my parents expressed their concerns with D&D and made a deal with my brother and I. Instead of D&D, they would buy us a computer RPG that we could play. This was cool with us, so they bought us the original Bard's Tale. I don't think that we ever beat it, because then Bard's Tale 2 came out (still the best of the series IMHO), and then Bard's Tale 3, and then Ultima V, which is still the best computer RPG in my humble opinion.
But we returned to tabletop roleplaying. One year, while escaping a rained-out camp site, we stumbled across a copy of Middle Earth Roleplaying in a Waldenbooks in Warren, PA. My family has had a long history of being Tolkien fans, so when my mother saw it, all this roleplaying stuff clicked in her head. So she bought it for us. I still have that book. It's pretty beat up, though.
MERPS and its big brother Rolemaster were my roleplaying mainstay through high school. I kept buying the newest "Rolemaster Companion" books as they came out. Also, I happened upon Hero System, which I originally bought to use as a genre mashup game. Instead, it became a side game that my brother and I played. We both made superheroes and then took turns GMing some sort of conflict for the other one. Each session essentially was a set piece brawl, which was really cool. We also had our first PC death during this game, which was surprisingly emotional.
Somewhere in here, I picked up a copy of Paranoia and gave that a run, but it just didn't catch on as well as I would have wanted.
I *think* that I started playing Call of Cthulhu somewhere in here, too, but I'm not sure.
Then there was a gap while I was at college. Honest.
When I returned, I started running a Call of Cthulhu game at the local gaming store. High atmospherics for this one. I actually purchased glow-in-the-dark dice so that we could roll dice in the dark. This was the game that I set in our town with gamer PCs who all hung out at the same game store...so it was close to art imitating life. Very cool.
Then I got married, and there was another gap.
Somewhere in there, I started getting a hankering to play RPGs again. Sure, there were other games in the mix (Warhammer 40K, Epic, Netrunner, Magic, etc.) but I wanted to do roleplaying. So I purchased a copy of Mage (2nd ed.) and fell in love. The idea of "storytelling" was appealing to me, and I loved the freeform magic--excuse me, magick--system.
Again, I started pursuing the supplements. I also purchased Wraith and played it a couple of times. It didn't take off in our circles as much, not because we didn't like it, but because it was more intense than we cared for. Plus I don't think that we quite had the techniques down to really appreciate the game.
Somewhere in this stretch, I started working on my first game Junk, and Graveyard Greg of the Gaming Outpost found me and posted on GO about the game. So, one day, I get an email from one Jared Sorenson, telling me that he had heard about the game at GO and was amused. Thus, I discovered the Gaming Outpost.
In that process, I started following the Orkworld Designer's Journal and started interacting with this guy named Ron Edwards, who had a spooky game about demon summoning. "Oh great!" I thought. "All the uproar about gaming being Satanic, and here's someone who is just making it worse." Over the course of our discussions (and arguments, I'll admit), I found Ron to have interesting ideas, which intrigued me enough to head over to the Forge when the forums were first launched.
In the meantime, I started researching diceless play and took a shot at Amber, but didn't really like it. Then I got my hands on Unknown Armies and had the one of the most rockingest roleplaying campaign ever. We also played some Rune at the same time.
And, of course, we were playtesting my Legends of Alyria game, using some of these weird ideas from Ron, which, lo and behold, were actually working.
Then I played Nobilis, about the time of my move to Peoria, which managed to outdo Mage at all the things I loved about Mage.
Then I played Pendragon with Ralph, which suddenly ended due to work on Robots and Rapiers.
Then there were some fitful starts at various games, which didn't work out well.
Then we played InSpectres. Then we played Primetime Adventures, which was a big success.
Then I found Polaris. Polaris totally rocked my world. Still does, in fact.
Then I bought Trollbabe as a "date RPG" for my wife and I, which has worked well so far.
Now I have The Mountain Witch on order, and I'm thinking about teaching Alyria to my children, and we have a little Spione action going on, and there's still a Polaris game to return to, and now I have this other game roaming around in my head....
Me, I'm kind of atypical, 'cause I began playing when I was sixteen or seventeen (freshman year at college), after meeting a young man, son of one of my professors, who was an albino and into Michael Moorcock's Elric books. He was shocked that a girl was into fantasy and sf, but he quickly decided to invite me and Jeff Drefke and his little brother to play this new game he'd found -- which was first edition D&D, back in 1974. We played a few games, which were fun, though we were really cautious about combat (I recall running away from the dragon, as we all KNEW what dragons could do, vis a vis being fantasy fans, and not being stupid enough to want to try to combat one).
Then, a few years later, I met and married my one true love, and for our first valentine's day, he bought me some miniatures -- some hobbits on a horse, and something else -- and started me looking for more. Ooops. That led to me finding Rider's Hobbies in Ann Arbor, attending my first gaming con here in A2, and finding out that, hey, even though I'm not a big D&D fan, there's this cool game called "Traveller" out there. Before the Imperium. Before all the meta-plot... we played Andre Norton space merchant traveller, and gosh, did I love it! I also bought somewhere in there, I have no idea when, original "Runequest" and oh yes! "Fringeworthy". We got involved in gaming groups. We played whatever we could. It was fun. I started my bad habit of buying games and not playing them, but reading them anyway.
Two kids and a few years later, we moved to Ann Arbor. I got into a freeform game based on the Amber novels (this was before the role-playing game came out) and met lots of new gamer friends. This led to me learning GURPS, playing lots of point-based games, and also eventually, playing Pendragon. I still love Pendragon. Eventually got into a Star Trek campaign, and on-line not-really-gaming (they call it role-playing, but it is more like on-line interactive fiction to ME).
Am currently playing in an Exalted campaign which I'm still feeling unsure about, and ... hmmm.... being solicited for two different D&D 3.5 campaigns. I still don't think I like D&D.
I would love to try some of the Forge-type games I've learned about, but I don't think my groups would like 'em .Sigh.
I did this back in January, but I don't have as much good commentary, so I'll add that here.
The early years (5th-8th grade) were filled with random wandering around dungeons and having a lot of fun trying crazy stuff. I still remember playing on those long chairs that could lie flat around the pool after midnight, by the light of the pool light. We got into Car Wars and enjoyed spending hours designing cool cars to smash into each other.
In high school, I found my new crowd through gaming; I was invited to play in a semi-PVP tournament thing. I did well enough that I was invited to return. We played a lot of different games, often at my house or Carson's after school and on the weekends. I remember six months taken up with a huge battletech battle (12 mechs per player, free for all). The group was two volatile half groups (the Scott-Scott-Kev-Gary axis and the Carson-Aaron-Aaron axis) that complained behind the scenes, but gamed together. I ran a very successful D&D campaign (by demanding concessions at the start, about alignment and party unity), but it exploded several months down the line when they turned their firepower on each other. (I also clearly remember them mocking Aaron for his new ranger falling to a couple of common muggers, due to poor die rolls.) I quit GMing for the whole group early in Senior year and the group never reunified for a campaign afterwards.
Playing Sython with an entirely new crew in college illuminated exactly how different a game can be in different hands. There was a strong emphasis on "good roleplay" and avoiding power creep, plus we did rotating GMing. That's where I found out that it's better if you hook people with something other than "there's a bounty on some goblins..."
The next few years I played as much Mage and Amber as I could get my hands on, including trying some PBeMs... but they fizzled. I learned to let the players shine, giving them challenges they could overcome and look good doing it. There was an Amber game I played in near this time that was basically a series of dungeon crawls-- not even good characterization could save it for me.
After college I returned to my hometown, but all attempts to play with my old group died within a session or two. I found a new group through RenFaire, and was introduced to more by my friend and later roommate. Then he introduced me to Will and Jen, and I had a couple of parallel groups going. I got more confidence and ran a Mage game with people from both groups-- it went very well. After that, while play was both thick and thin, we kept playing oWoD and AD&D. My "experimental group" tried a few sessions of MLwM and Dogs, in between some homebrew Wheel of Time and Shadowrun. My experimental group foundered due to work schedules and Emily's new child... but my current group is pretty happy with Star Wars and D&D-- I had them willing (though not eager) to try FATE just recently. PTA still sounds too strange for them to try it...
I started with red box D&D in 1978 (?) I was seven. We played it straight, we played it weird, we drifted it in ten directions. I remember a Star Trek drift particularly clearly.
We played 'live D&D' - LARPing by any other name - in The Major's Inn, where I lived when I as 9. It was me, my sister, and four other kids between 14 and 6, running from room to room and floor to floor, with the DM and a notebook of what was where. It rocked.
Then I moved to San Diego in 1983, and it took 18 months to find a gaming group (run by a girl in high school!), and we played GURPS Macross/Robotech
Then I played a D&D homebrew with the same crew I LARPed with in Balboa Park (still an active group, I see)
Then I joined the SCA, which can be kinda LARPish.
Then I went to college, and played nothing my first year.
Then I met Vincent, and played Cyberpunk. From here on out, it's basically the same list as Vincent's, with a few notable changes, in particular, I played half a session of Cuthulu, and I didn't play The Mountain Witch or Baron Munchausen.
Interesting to see the parallels and differences...
After I read these for a few days, I'll have to go back and add in some more games... Totally forgot about Call of Cthulhu (not sure we actually played though), Ring World (chargen only), Elf Quest (1 session), Elf Quest again (chargen only), also several SF games in search of the perfect game (and really my Traveller drifted all over the place).
-Storyteller (Mage & Hunter, with mixtures of the other rules)
- i didn't start playing as a player, but as a GM, which might be a little different
- throughout all this highshcool gaming, i never had a game by me or others go beyond three sessions; at first it was accidental, then we started planning for it. (this is all with the same basic group)
- at the same time i got into wargaming, through Warhammer 40k
-ElfQuest (a single con game, but formative)
-GURPS Traveller (my first campaign, 12 sessions of death)
-more GURPS one-shots & attempts at "campaigns"
-D&D 3rd (also short games)
- most of this gaming was with the campus game society
- moved into Battletech as wargame of choice
-more D&D shorts (two i think)
-Exalted (on-going campaign, up to 3 sessions!)
-Hunter (with exalted-style rules & freeforming, 3 sessions)
-Burning Wheel (i'm GMing currently)
- all of this gaming is after stumbling across the Forge last year; i believe i came there via Anyway, via the Diana Jones award, via some tabletop wargaming thing...
- my tabletop game of choice has moved on to Stargrunt/Dirtside/FMA
Heh. That was a short list! It seems i've put a lot more energy into gaming than i've taken out of it - years & years of "lonely fun" with GURPS...
So what can you take from all this?
Maybe just that mid-Pennsylvanian rurality is bad place for gaming? ;)
I really like that you included Zork on your list. I wouldn't have thought to have done so, but it definitely played a role in my own gaming history. Heck, when I was in a gaming dry spell during graduate school coursework, I got deep into Myst-style puzzle games and then just lost interest in them once I got back into tabletop. I'm not exactly sure, but I think they were the equivalent of a nicotine patch for my gaming habit.
Frank and Sempiternity - you played Elf Quest? I thought I was the only one who owned that game. I have this little dream in which I (or anybody, really) does a better WoTM rpg, instead of Chaosium cramming their system on the setting.
Yea, Elf Quest was sort of an oddity. But then I've always been into oddities. I have all the supplements... Of course I've also played Bunnies and Burrows (and have GURPS B&B...talk about a totally non-fitting game system).
I think the biggest reason Elf Quest never went very far for me wasn't so much the miss-fit of the system, but more my not seeing how to turn the source material into RPG material. Of course perhaps a system that matched the source material better might have made it more obvious how to run the game.
I started out playing Final Fantasy solo Gamebooks, but I'm not sure if that counts or not.
Then I saw an ad for TSR's Marvel Super Heroes (Basic Set) in my Spiderman comics, and pestered my parents to buy it for me. I ran that several times with some schoolfriends, and we branched out into:
Paranoia (2nd Edition)
Ghostbusters 1st Ed. RPG
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st Ed.)
Then our family moved house, and it turned out, next door to an older gamer. He was a Traveller fan, so I played:
Lots of Classic Traveller (First character, a scout who died during character creation!)
Lots of MegaTraveller
And during that time, our group expanded & joined with a bigger board/wargaming club, where I played:
Call of Cthulhu (3rd Ed, I think)
Plus various homebrews and other stuff I can't recall.
Next, moving away to university, where I got straight in with the games club and played lots and lots and lots of 'episodic' Shadowrun 2nd Ed. (Nearly every Thursday for four years). Weekend games were short runs of other stuff, including:
Champions (4th Ed. I think)
More Call of Cthulhu (5th Ed.)
Star Wars D6
Several years of Vampire 1st & 2nd Ed.
Mage 1st & 2nd Ed.
Also during this time, I joined a splinter student group in a Vampire game that kept in touch after we all graduated. This started using the 1st Ed. rules in late '93, and ran long sessions every month or so, changing editions as we went, until '01 or so. About six months of in-game time elapsed over that period. It burnt out the GM and turned me off roleplaying, pretty much.
Oh, towards the end of that campaign ('99-2000), I got involved in the playtesting, production, and promotion of what I now call a "White Wolf" Heartbreaker, Suzerain: Mortal Realms. **Sigh**
But gaming is still in my blood, so, early last year, I stumbled across a blog post mentioning Dogs in the Vineyard. It sounded very intriguing, so I picked it up. Since then it's been:
Dogs in the Vineyard
D&D 3.5 (Yep, no D&D until very recently)
Vampire 3rd Ed.
More Dogs in the Vineyard
Werewolf 2nd Ed. (Ratkin)
Kill Puppies for Satan
Yet more Dogs in the Vineyard
The Mountain Witch
And currently, Primetime Adventures
2nd or 3rd grade:
A 6th grader (practically an adult!) had some version of D&D - Lord knows which: He DM'd, I was the only player. I remember correcting his spelling of "sord" (the weapon).
I showed remarkable grasp of the essence of D&D the very first session when one of the NPC party members died and I asked, very intently, who would get his stuff. Some cleric resurrected the guy instead. I felt both frustrated and vaguely embarassed.
He wanted to play another session with the same characters, but I explained my guy from last time had gotten lung cancer from being too near the dragon last time (this was ca. 1982, so the anti-smoking revolution was just gathering force). So we ended up making me a psionicist pit fighter. My guy killed a bartender by accident --I just wanted to throw him around to teach him a lesson, but the DM decided he'd landed on a weapons rack; I felt bad -- then annihilated his first arena opponent in a one-sided match, then got annihilated by his second opponent who was a more powerful psionicist.
I think dice got rolled at some point, but basically it was cool Color plus GM Fiat & Force.
Late elementary school through high school
D&D monster books -- never bought the rules -- and writing up my own monsters.
Then Traveller -- rolling up characters and planets -- and Car Wars -- designing cars.
Playing? With other people? Why would I do that? Where would I find them?
Actually, I played Car Wars once with some kids who didn't quite know the rules, and there was a D&D group in my high school that I mostly remember plotting gleefully to murder each others' PCs for their magic items.
College & (my one year of) grad school:
My first ever actually roleplaying campaign -- Star Wars d6 in the homebrew setting of the (female!) GM.
Then a flurry of traditional and relatively traditional games, in one-shots and short campaigns: Various D&D, Ars Magica, Amber (one-shot), Tales from the Floating Vagabond (just once, but my character's name became my nickname for two years). I GM'd Tales once, GM'd a GURPS one-shot or two and swore off the system (though I loved making characters). I ran a few one-shots in a streamlined but fairly traditional homebrew (stat plus specialization plus 1d6, all rolls opposed) and a year-and-a-half campaign in a homebrew gothic space fantasy universe with a vaguely Amber-meets-Ars system.
The next ten years:
Roleplaying? Where'd I find people to do that with?
I tinkered with character creation and homebrew rules design a bit, nothing more.
The last two years:
I have a new baby. I am very, very tired. I am on paternity leave. I search the web for free RPGs. I run into this "Forge" thing.
I get involved in playtesting Tony Lower-Basch's Capes.
I play much Capes, one shots of Dogs in the Vineyard, Inspectres, Trollbabe, and The Shah-aribi Roach; I play in a campaign ofPrime Time Adventures; I GM for the first time in ten years, running The Shadow of Yesterday. I go to the zoo with Vincent Baker, and have lunch with Ron Edwards. I design and redesign apocalypse girl.
Old preconceptions fall away like the scaffolding that holds up a rocket on the launch pad before it shoots into space. I suddenly start understanding story structure, not just in games but in what I read and watch. My characters change as people while I am playing them. I come back from games and tell my wife, "Wow -- I just learned something new about myself."
I am never, ever going back.
When I was a little kid, I played pirates and cowboys (and doctors and nurses). I also played a game with my brother after lights-out: we'd make up characters and stuff that happened until we fell asleep. We did that right up till we were about 14 and 12 and got our own rooms.
Then at 16 I ran D&D, till the end of school.
Then I played RQ, V&V, C&S, Traveller, Superworld, Champions and others at the game store (Simulations RIP).
Then I ran a game of RQ that went on for 20 years.
Then I ran Pendragon and a PD/RQ mashup and some more V&V, and played some GURPS and some Gamma World.
Then I moved and didn't play much for a while and read HQ and discovered the Forge and thought a lot about stuff I'd done in the past.
Then I decided to look for new people to play with and played HeroQuest, Sorcerer, Dogs, Trollbabe, Sorcerer, Nicotine Girls, Burning Wheel, Dogs, HQ, My Life with Master, InSpectres, 1001 Nights and Mexican Standoff.
So, for some perspective on some of the younger generation here.
Started out when my neighbor invited me over to play D&D with them. I think it was some sort of being neighborly/introduce new blood to gaming kind of thing. They were all adults, I was in 8th grade or so.
Played AD&D 2nd first, I was a theif who fell through the sky and landed on the 4th level underground in front of a locked door. My character's name became bob as I forgot to think of one. (A recurring problem, names seem to always come last)
That group played a new game about every 2-4 months, as each campaign seemed to fizzle or explode. I later learned this was largely because of one very dominant personality breaking the system and the game. Played various superhero games including HERO, Nemesis, Blood of Heroes and Brave New World. Played some Shadowrun, Star Wars D6, and Deadlands.
After that I kind of drifted off on my own for the latter parts of high school before joining a group of Exalted players at a store. Played and then ran in several Exalted groups. Picked up lots of World of Darkness, but rarely if ever actually played them.
Got into a really cool Shadowrun game, with an extremely powerhungry GM. Contrary to normal experience, it was actually really fun, he did a very good job of it. I still think it is not as fun as the styles here, but I it was a very fun campaign. I joined towards the tail end, most of the characters had around 300+ karma by that point, but I made my worth with a starting character by making a very nichey non-combat shaman. Lots of hiding, sneaking and manipulation spells, not so much combat.
After that ended, played in an Iron Kingdoms game with the same GM. Still fun, but we all moaned over our hatred of D20.
Switched my Exalted game over to Wushu system and had a great deal of success with that, particularly in drawing the more hesitant players into the interaction and reinforcing that they could do cool things.
This was the first time I found out there was different ways of doing things that might work better.
Picked up Dogs in the Vineyard as a present swap on an RPG forum, and haven't looked back since, but also haven't played yet as I joined the Navy.
However, I have got a few people lined up to try it when I get back home, so the future is bright.
Also got my wife interested in Breaking the Ice, so we will likely be picking that up soon.