In 1987 or 1988, while serving this great country of ours, I was introduced to, what to me was, a little known game. A guy I worked with asked me if I had any plans on one particular Saturday. He told me he and a few other buddies were getting together to play Dungeons and Dragons and wondered if would be interested. I told him I didn’t know how to play. He said that he and the other guys would teach me. I was curious, so I said yes. On that Saturday morning I drove to the address I was given and was introduce to my first DM Kevin. He told me that the game was relatively simple to grasp, but some aspects were not simple. He asked what experience I had. I told him none, but I had a small taste of the it when a friend of my mother’s showed it to me when it came in the red box a few years back. That being said Kevin sat me down to roll up me first character. Kevin asked what I wanted to play. When I told him I didn’t know he told me has all new players start with a human fighter, as it was the easiest race and class to play. Plus he wanted to make sure I enjoyed myself and wanted to come back. I told him that was fine and we began the process.
About an hour later I had my first D&D character and we were off on our first adventure. Though I did not live through it (I was put to sleep and did not wake up for some reason), I had a good time and told them (Kevin, Brian, and Mark whom would be the core group I played with) that I wanted to come back. While the four of us were the core we did have people venture in and out from time to time, as they were either on cruises or on deployments. We played many a session nearly every weekend including one or two forty-eight hours sessions on three day weekends. Let me tell you this about those marathon sessions, some of the funniest things happen when you’re really, really tired and the coffee isn’t anywhere near strong enough to help conjure anything resembling a coherent thought. After about a year or so Kevin got married and decided he did not want to play anymore and both Brian and Mark changed duty stations, so that left me without a group.
Enter my best friend, Tony. We met while we were stationed at the same base. We started talking about the game. Tony said he played with a guy that he worked with, his wife and younger brother. Tony Introduced me to Denny, Lisa and Danny and I had new group to play with (woohoo go me). The four of us spent many a Saturday nights pretending to rouges, warriors, wizards and various monsters as Tony, Denny and I took turns running adventures. I ran a game one night completely in candlelight to enhance the mood of a horror based adventure I made up. That and the power went out mid game. Life was good, but alas it was my turn to change duty stations. I moved to Guam for a tour of duty.
Fast forward to 1992, I returned home to California to find Tony had been stationed near my grandmother’s house. He and I were (to quote the great philosopher Mr. Forrest Gump) were like peas and carrots again. He introduced me to another group and I was off the races again. Of course I had updated to 2nd edition D&D by this time (Thac0 the worst idea in history). We played nearly every weekend up until he got his discharge from the Navy and returned home to Chicago, IL. The group broke up shortly after that due to some of the other guys moving on to different things or just plain moving. I shelved D&D for awhile and moved on to a few other interests.
Fast forward again, this time to 1997. I had moved out to Illinois about a year prior (to this day I am not sure why. I tell everybody who asks that my car broke down while driving cross country). Tony brought me into another group and we were off again. This group had two brothers in it. We played whenever we could. I lived about a hour and half away, so I would drive up to Tony’s house on the weekends we played. We played D&D along with a few other games including the Star Wars RPG. Third edition was released and it was time to buy yet another set of books. Things went good for awhile, but something changed within the group and in my real life. The brothers would continually bicker with one another which made it difficult for me to enjoy myself and I was working a swing shift in law enforcement that made it really hard to game regularly, so by the mid 2000’s I had quit playing expecting never to return to the realms again.
Another time time travel montage and we are now in 2015. I was perusing Geek and Sundry’s you tube channel one day and came across a show titled critical role. I clicked the link and was transported to the world living in the head of the Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer. He and some of his fellow voice actors meet on Thursdays to stream live D&D sessions. After watching the first episode I was hooked. I immediately started binge watching the episodes through Geek and Sundry. Then something happened, a familiar feeling arose, one that I hadn’t felt in a very long time had resurfaced. I wanted to play again. I did some research and found a local gaming store that had a game room for people to play various games including D&D, but at the time there were no campaign running at the time, so I sat and observed a group playing Pathfinder. During my return visits to the store I learned there was a gaming convention coming up at the end of July. I learned there would be a DM running the D&D Adventurers League system.
On July, 25 2015 I attended my first ever gaming convention – CapCon 2015, in Springfield, Illinois. CapCon is a small convention held at Springfield High School aimed at raising money for the SHS World War II Memorial Scholarship Fund. Various tabletop RPGs were represented there, but I went there for one main purpose: to play Dungeons and Dragons. I had a great time playing D&D from 9am-8pm it was like the old days. I took a couple of pictures of the group I played with (we have decided to continue playing together). I’m proud to say the con raised about $1300.00 for the scholarship fund. I have already saved the date for next year’s con, tentatively scheduled for the last Saturday in July 2016. I invite the entire Critters community to come check it out if they happen to be in the Central Illinois area next year.
Since finding Critical Role, I have started a new quest. A quest to escape the rat race of everyday life. On Thursday nights I am camped out in front of the tv watching the show stream through my computer. I want to thank Matt, Laura, Travis, Orion, Marisha, Sam, Tallesin, Liam and Ashley for indirectly rekindling a fire that I really thought had gone out. Being a fan of the show helped me meet some new and interesting people including everyone one here at CrittersRPG. I just started an online Ravenloft campaign on roll20.net fighting various horrors with people from The States and Europe. I am running a campaign with my wife and two other couples. My CapCon mates and I are on hold for now as we attempt to finalize a weekend day to get together as two of us are still in high school and have to get homework and other school related things done. Anyone who tells you you can’t go home again has never played D & D, because stepping back in to this world is like coming home. You just have to watch out for the occasional wandering monster.