A few months ago, I realized that I’d been role-playing for just about 25 years. I started in 3rd grade. 3rd grade! I have played and/or gamemastered tons of games. I never seriously tried to design my own, however. I mean, a couple of times, I threw some ideas together, but I never really put any effort into them.
My most notable (and latest) attempt was in high school, about… 13 years ago or so. And even then, it wasn’t going to be entirely original. The setting was that of Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series of novels, and the origins of the system were gleaned from the first book of that series, when Andy-Andy is creating her character.
I started role-playing because of my older brother. Well, actually, it was due to an even older kid who lived down the street. His name was Andy, and looking back, I can’t even think of why he would hang out with a couple of younger kids like us. He used to bring us pirated copies of games for our Commodore 64, he brought us tapes of music he was into (he’s to blame for my interest in Genesis and, therefore, Peter Gabriel), and at one point he brought over a role-playing game.
Andy started by running for my brother and his friends. I’d sit and watch whenever I could. The game he was running was called MERP (Middle-Earth Role Playing). It was too complicated for me, but I liked to pretend that I could play. I’m sure I was very annoying-little-brother-like. Eventually, Andy brought over Marvel Super Heroes, and said that I could play. I have no concept anymore of what happened. Who I played, if I made my own character or used a pre-generated one, what the adventure was, any of it. But it obviously made an impression.