Guess I should start at the beginning.
It was the spring of 1982 (best as I can recall).
I was in the 7th grade; about 13 years old.
I got invited to play Dungeons & Dragons with the smart kids during study hall.
Study hall at the time was held in Mr. Ingber’s math classroom. Looking back, I guess you could say Mr. Ingber was sort of a nerd.
There was a bookshelf FULL of science-fiction paperbacks in the room, as well as one of the school’s new Commodore PET computers. (This was as best I can tell the predecessor of the Commodore 64; the programs were loaded from an audio cassette tape.)
Since I did not get along with some of the other kids, I preferred to spend study hall reading some SF novel or playing a text-parser adventure game on the computer (it was about a haunted house I think).
One day, all the smart boys took over the big table in the back corner. I was kind of ignoring them as usual, reading some book.
One boy came over to me and asked me to come and play a game with them. I guess I was little hesitant, as I just was not used to being invited into things other kids were doing.
Anyway, I was drug over, plopped into a seat along with a couple more new recruits, handed a “spare character” and given a set of brief instructions. Basically, they amounted to “Stay in the middle of the group and stay alive until we need help. When it’s your turn, tell XXX (the person who was the party caller – it was at least 10 people playing) what you want to do and he will tell the DM.”
I soon found out they were off to explore and loot some place called “The Shrine of Chaos.” The core group of boys had obviously been playing for some time outside of school hours, as there were characters up to “6th Level” – whatever that meant. Whatever. My job was to hide behind the stronger characters until they got into a big battle, and then come out swinging (I think the character I had was a 2nd or maybe 3rd level fighter).
Honestly, I really don’t remember much of that session, I was just trying to absorb what was going on and not mess up. I do remember something about a bunch of skeletons and then some evil guys.
The thing I remember the most was this: Once the last of the evil guys had fallen, a few of the group went to explore a bit more. Generally, everybody’s guard was down as we had beaten the top bad guys of the place. The boy who had invited me to play had his 6th Level Fighter move up to where he saw some “shapely female legs” around a corner.
Being a bunch of 13 year old boys, we figured we had to rescue a captured damsel or something. The 6th level Fighter rounded the corner, and got to roll something called a “saving throw.” He failed, and was turned to stone by a medusa. (I betcha know which module this was right?)
The medusa was promptly chopped into bits by some other characters and treasure and experience were handed out to the survivors.
I had to give the spare character back to the boy whose Fighter had been turned to stone.
What an hour. (Yes it was all done in a 1 hour study hall period!)
When I got home that afternoon, I got out a page of notebook paper and drew a bunch of squares and rectangles all connected together. I made up some notes about “a goblin” “an ogre” and so on, and made notes how many “hits” it took to kill them. The I got a couple six-sided dice out of a boardgame and went through my own crude dungeon with my own crude rules based upon what I remembered.
That was the only time I got to play with those guys. It was near the end of the school year, and they had beaten the module.
But my life was forever changed.