Sunday, May 23, 2010

Secret Origins - Part I

Our story begins on a surprisingly mild summer day in August of 1977. In fact, it was August 25th. The place, Brooklyn, New York. Oh, Earth Prime.

I was 8 years old and hanging out with my friends in front of my grade school. Summer camp had ended and the school semester had yet to begin so we all set out to have as much fun as possible in our limited window of freedom.

Even at the age of 8 there were cliques. A good sized group of the athletically inclined played handball against the wall on the school's shaded side. A few girls were talking and jumping on the opposite side of the area where I was seated. As for my closest friends and I, we sat on the stairs of the school's front entrance discussing the important issues of the day. Mainly, we talked about that new movie that had come out just before the summer, 'Star Wars', various TV shows, cartoons and of course, comic books.

I was a pretty popular kid back then. I had a lot of friends and many of them wanted to hear my ideas and opinions on stuff. See, I was already a geek and a geek was cooler than cool in those days. When you're 8 even the 'jocks' and the bullies read comics.

While building my arguement on why and how Superman could beat up Thor, a friend of mine approached the outside gate with a box of some sort in his hand. As he came toward us, many in the group, myself included, got up to meet him half way.

To say Tom Zizzo was my friend at that time is not quite accurate. He was a year younger than me and a grade below me and while I knew him I didn't know him well. He apparently knew my friend Paul though and so I figured if Paul was cool with him he must be an OK guy.

"Hey Tom, whatcha got there?", Paul said.

"It's a game. I got it for my birthday. It's called Dungeons & Dragons," replied Tom.

"Oh, I've heard of it," I said, even though I hadn't actually heard of it. I was the 'go-to-guy' for all things superhuman, supernatural and/or spacefaring. No way was I going to admit I didn't know anything about a game with 'Dragons' in it.

"It's really cool. My older brother taught me how to play. Anybody want to try it?", exclaimed Tom with a mix of enthusiasm and nervousness. It only made sense since he was asking older kids if they wanted to play a game where he, a younger kid, would have to show them how.

"I might", I said, "I've heard of it...but I'm not familiar with the rules. How does it work?"

Tom than spoke the words that not only began my journey into the hobby of RPGs but would also forever color every game I would ever run.

"It's like playing out a comic book. You create a character, go on adventures, defeat villains and save people!"

My eyes must've lit up. "Yeah! Sounds cool!"

To Be Continued...

Barking Alien


  1. Those were magical days weren't they.

    I was introduced to D&D in 1976 by my brother. I say introduced somewhat broadly, since he did not really introduce me to the game: I found the D&D books he brought how and snuck them from his room to read them.

    I was of course his annoying younger brother and he hated that our mom made him take me to his D&D game-club.

  2. Heh...that's awesome.

    They were indeed magical days. My hope is to illustrate how ones earliest experiences can color everything you do from that point on.

    Please read my next entry, 'Secret Origins - Part II' to see what I mean, at least as it applies to my own style.

  3. Very cool! I myself was given the Marvel Star Wars magazine-sized comics and proceeded to devalue them with stickers. (Ah, memories!) By the time I was 12 I was a Marvel fiend and by 14 I was randomly rolling up weakling supers to be bashed by Dr. Doom in the Marvel Superhero RPG. (Ah, more memories!).

    I'd owned both boxed sets BTW for years already, but gaming group options were limited (read: none). MSH had a following though...

    Bring on Part 2!