So I played a single game of D&D and loved it. Then some time passed. I really have no idea how long, but it might’ve even been a year or more, because these events happened on two different vacations, so there’s a good chance they were different summers. In the meantime, I’d played Dungeon! (the boardgame) every chance I got—we had a set in the school library. Then on vacation I convinced Dad to buy me a copy of Dungeon!. Except I accidentally got the D&D Basic Set —the 1981 Moldvay Red Box version. [Which, now that I look things up is odd, because I can pretty much guarantee this was summer ’83 or later, so maybe they were clearing it out due to the new edition?]
When I opened it, I was baffled. Since I couldn’t figure out the rules, I instead made my own. These were considerably more complex and arbitrary than the actual rules. And the concept of game balance, illusion though it may be, was completely foreign to me.
I must’ve been about 10 at the time, and since we were visiting relatives I didn’t have any friends to play with. However, my grandma and a couple other relatives (my aunt? I forget now) indulged me and tried to play this game that I called “D&D”. I’m pretty sure they had no idea what was going on, due in equal part to my “skills” as a 1st-time GM, and a complete lack of exposure to fantasy literature. Strangely enough, this didn’t turn me off or disappoint me. Once I was back home, a friend’s older brother set me straight, and my best friend started running a game of D&D. Not too long after that, I started running my own D&D game, this time using the AD&D rules—the actual AD&D rules.