A Delve into Dungeons Dark

Marcus Katz

My Personal History with RPGs

I was born in 1965 and began playing RPG’s when I was 12-13, starting with basic D&D (blue book), followed almost immediately by AD&D which my parents bought me for Christmas; starting with the Monster Manual, then the Dungeon Masters Guide and finally I think I bought the Players Handbook with my pocket money. I had been introduced to D&D by the Sixth-formers at my High School, they were a lot older than I (it seemed a lot when I was that age) but they included me in their games as a precocious and passionate adherent of the game.

As soon as I could, I used to cycle every weekend from where I lived in the village of Ambergate (Derbyshire) to Nottingham – a two-hour trip there and a two-hour trip back, almost unthinkable these days – and buy figures and magazines from the Nottingham Model Soldier Shop on Woolaton Street.

It was small and dingy, but I loved it, determining to buy every figure listed and every supplement with my savings and money earnt cleaning caravans at the weekends, gardening for the elderly every school holiday, paperounds in the morning and evening, and when I was a little older, stacking shelves in a supermarket at Belper. Nottingham, of course, was also the home to Citadel Miniatures and became the home of Games Workshop.

I was always writing, stories, poems, D&D adventures, computer programs, even ideas for TV shows.

My parents encouraged my interest in the game, no doubt impressed with my borrowing piles of books from the library on medieval history, architecture, languages, early practices of agriculture, roman myth, geography and every other subject that D&D incorporated.

My advert looking to swap D&D ideas published in White Dwarf magazine, issue 17 (Feb/March 1980).

When I was looking to leave school, before I decided to go to college and pursue my interests in I.T. and (errrrr…) sociology and communications, I applied for a job at the new TSR (UK) and had an interview (with Don Turnbull, I think), which was one of my first trips away from home.

I got to speak to Gary Gygax on the phone – very costly in those days, but TSR was on the up – and spoke about moving their administrative systems to computers. I also discussed whether I would be able to design modules, which they encouraged all their staff to do at the time, even if it wasn’t their role.

Always reading and writing, even in the summer holidays – with my old man slippers on.

In the end I didn’t get the job, mainly as it was simply too far and costly to move at the time, as I was living in the middle of nowhere. Ironically, my first real job ended up being in Switzerland.

[See Designers and Dragons 70-79, by Shannon Appelcline, pp. 47-8 for a brief overview of TSR expansion into the UK at that time].

Some of my favourite game rules from back in the day.

After that, I continued to play, despite changing friendship groups, but as commonplace, my career in I.T. and (in my case) interest in more esoteric subjects replaced the amount of time I had for RPGs. I wrote a few computer programs for generating dungeons, but eventually mothballed my collection and spent another thirty years carting it about from place to place.

The magazine that really changed my life and I read to death. It still evokes a visceral thrill when I hold it.

Part 2 to follow.

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