When I was in sixth grade way back in 1980, when I was almost ten years old, I really got into Dungeons & Dragons.
There was no bookstore in the small, rural town in Iowa where I grew up, so I had to wait for trips to the “big city” of Dubuque to hit the Waldenbooks at the mall to check out the latest D&D modules. The modules had these amazing, brightly colored covers, and inside were all the treasures: maps, monsters, quests, and more charts than you could shake a ten-foot pole at.
I was hooked. I’d just read The Hobbit in fifth grade, and was working my way through The Lord of the Rings, and I couldn’t get enough of these fantasy worlds. I was an avid reader, but those books opened up a place inside of me I never knew existed. It was an amazing feeling, and something I’ve tried to recapture over the years in the books I read and the books I’ve written.
So my ten-year-old self read the modules, tried my best to study the rules, and tried painting some pewter miniatures.
I even wrote an adventure or two, collaborating with my sixth-grade buddy on a two-parter: “Victory at Castle Deepmoat” (mine) and “The Diamond of Terror Mountain” (his).
But I never actually played the game.
Years passed, and I played computer role-playing games like Wizardry, Ultima, and Might & Magic, and I read (and re-read) fantasy novels like the Dragonlance series, Thomas Covenant, the many Drizzt novels, and more. But still no D&D.