I remember way back when I was around twelve, in the sixth grade… that was one of the many points in time when my life changed.
I had a friend (really, I did) that I met through Cub Scout camp. His name was Andy, and he lived a couple of blocks away from my house back then. During the summer, we’d get together nearly every day, as kids would do, and figure out something to do.
One afternoon, he pulled out the rules to Basic D&D, and introduced me to the game. I don’t quite remember what I rolled up at the time, but he proceeded to run me through an Advanced D&D module (using a Basic character, go figure, we were young, didn’t know the difference back then). Since then, it had become one of my favorite modules of all time: U1 – The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.
I loved that module, and in my own time proceeded to get the other two in the series (U2 – Danger at Dunwater and U3 – The Final Enemy) as they became available. In fact, after all these years, I still have the original modules for U2 and U3, and I’m on my second copy of U1. (Managed to get both copies secondhand.)
It was also during this time that one of my favorite haunts back then — the Fabulous Fiction Bookstore — began to have a D&D club each and every Saturday night. The owner of the store, “Grumpy” Bob, typically ran the sessions. However, one time he allowed one of the other players to run. This was when I was introduced to another one of my favorites: UK3 – The Gauntlet. I ended up being the focus character on that one, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I don’t know how I came into possession of the first part of that series (UK2 – The Sentinel) but these two are always in the same stack as the Saltmarsh series listed above. No matter what fantasy RPG I encounter, I always try to convert these five into that system. So far, the only ones I’ve been successful with are HARP and HERO, as well as D&D 3e/3.5e. I’m sure they will convert well into Hackmaster, since that’s based on AD&D 1e.
So now I look back to where it all began… those Basic rulebooks were the gateway game, as it were, to a large portion of my creative and social life. From there, I went into such games as Marvel Superheroes, Star Frontiers, Top Secret, Rifts, Beyond the Supernatural, Call of Cthulhu, Champions, GURPS, TimeLords, The Morrow Project, HARP, Hackmaster, Millennium’s End… and looked at countless others, either for source material or mere curiosity.
And so it began…