My Introduction to D&D
Straight off the bat, I want it to be known that while my credentials in fantasy and geeky topics are pretty good, I am fairly new to the tabletop rpg scene. Having just turned 29 when I started, I was introduced to it by a friend of mine. I have been playing for about a year now, playing in half a dozen campaigns, mostly in 4th ed, Gamma World and since yesterday 3rd Ed too. I have also taken on the role of DM, which I really enjoy as it lets me think about my games no matter where I am.
So I have been an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy and all kinds of fiction*, I have watched all the fantasy and sci-fi shows and movie (Star Wars fan over Star Trek, but Firefly over them both) and have played lots of computer games (clocked up over a year of playing time on a Discworld MUD, as well as dumping weeks of playing time into the Diablo, Elder Scrolls and Fable series). But most of the time this has been a solo experience, maybe interacting over the internet with other fans, or talking to a cousin of mine who lived out of state but shared my obsessions.
I had heard of D&D, seen bits of the xlassic cartoon as a kid and had thought it was old school and probably not around anymore. I had just one experience with paper based rpg's playing the Paladin RPG in my early teens. Unfortunately it was during a big family reunion, where I playrf with some cousins from all the state, and it didn't last beyond that weekend.
So flash forward to last year where I was approaching my 30th birthday and thinking, hey I'm going to be old soon, I'm working in my chosen career (I'm a high school history and math's teacher now) but don't really have any hobbies that let me interact with my friends. So I started looking around for something more interactive then beating the flood in Halo, or killing random people online in Modern Warfare. Then I remembered a while back when I was helping a friend move house. There were a couple of us there, and I didn't really know some of his other friends. He introduced me to one of the guys with 'Hey, this is Mike, he often plays D&D with me'. I had two thoughts, 'people still play D&D?' and 'huh, how come he never mentioned this before, this sounds cool'.
So I talked to my friend about coming along to see if it would be something I would like to join in with, and the rest is history. But probably not the kind of history they will teach at schools. Unless I turn out to be some great hero and celebrity where my entire life is memorised by primary students and studied by university students doing their doctorates.
So once I started I got into it in a big way. Not so much as to come in costume and stay in character throughout the night, but to the extent of getting a subscription to the Wizards website, listening to all the pod casts I could get on DM'ing, watching the Robot Chicken guys play, listening to the Penny Arcade games, spending several weeks drawing up maps by hand before just buying a stack of dungeon tiles (in my d&d group ).
*In reading order, starting from when I was 8 years old, Enid Blyton, JRR Tolkien, (teens) David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, Terry Brooks, Raymond E. Feist, Tad Williams, J K Rowling, Orson Scott Card, (20's) David Gemmell, Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova, Anne McCaffrey and R. A. Salvator. (Obviously this is a short list that I came up with without any real reflection, I am sure I have read many other good authors in this genre. I actually looked up what was considered essential/standard reading for the sci-fi, fantasy and classical genres and have read all of those I can lay my hands on)