3 decades of monsters, heroes, silliness and memories. All of our RPG plays!
Brian M
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I saw this idea mentioned on an RPGG thread - doing a "lifetime RPG" list of everything you've played. I think its a cool idea, and I'm curious to look back on things. However, a lot of these are going to be very short on detail - I can remember that I played it, but I usually can't remember much about it!

Order is also questionable; I don't remember when a lot of these got played. I blame RPGG for not being around to record plays on that far back.


Lisa has been my partner in life and gaming from college onward, so this list is practically the same for her past a certain point. Since she doesn't like making geeklists, she's filled me in on some of her early gaming experiences to make this list be for both of us.
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1. RPG: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition) [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:80]
Brian M
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I don't remember a lot about the first time I played D&D. I know that:
* I was fairly young. 7-9 or so.
* There were older boys in my neighborhood that I looked up to who played it, and so I wanted to play it.
* One of them got conscripted to look after me while my parents were out, and he reluctantly decided to let me try it.
* He showed me pictures of the monsters in the MM to show what I was seeing, but didn't tell me what they were called.
* I ran from a giant slug and got it caught between pillars so it was stuck and unable to fight back.
* I found a door leading to a deep pit, and then had an Umber-Hulk break through the wall behind me and charge. I tied a rope to my waist and the door handle and jumped out of the way at the last moment.
* The GM was very surprised that I came up with this stuff at my age.
* I was totally hooked.

* Given how unreliable childhood memories are, I might have confabulated some or all of this.
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2. RPG: Basic Dungeons & Dragons [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:97]
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I convinced my parents to buy me the D&D Basic set, and tried playing it with some of my friends. I seem to recall our "playing" it mostly consisted of drawing maps on graph paper, putting all sorts of symbols on it, and...um...yeah, I think that was mostly as far as we got.
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3. RPG Item: Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:393]
Brian M
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In Elementary school, a school counselor played D&D with me. I have no idea why, but it was sure was fun - he was a good DM! I remember that he encouraged creative ideas, that I was playing a Halfling, and I remember him having the evil creature threatening to be back again as it faded into smoke.
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4. RPG: Basic Dungeons & Dragons [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:97]
Brian M
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Meanwhile, in a land not so far away, Lisa was embarking on her own RPG adventure. She and her friend Nissa discovered RPGs, but early on were mostly just playing on their own; the group in her elementary school didn't want girls playing with them.

So she and her friend both GMed and played. In addition to normal adventures, the played what they called the 'Magic Realm' which essentially involved straight up fighting monsters and being able to return from it after death; kind of like modern "play, level up, repeat" video games.

They gradually took their characters up through all the old boxed sets to immortal level.

Apparently a lot of their adventures started with "you're walking along and you fall in a hole". She also mentioned that she did run an adventure inspired by the movie Flight of Dragons.
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5. RPG Item: S1: Tomb of Horrors [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:92]
Brian M
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I had one or two friends who played RPGs in elementary school, though we were still far away from much RP in our game.

I do remember a friend creating really high level characters so he could run this. I and his older sister played. Her character was a magic-user who could summon things and had a pack of dogs at her command. I think I had a magic-user of some type as well. We viciously sacrificed many summoned creatures, minions, and mutts to figure out the various traps.
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6. RPG Item: Dungeon Geomorphs Set One to Three [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:6553]
Brian M
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Some other stray memories from early D&D:

* Some of my friends got some miniatures. Wow, these were awesome. Toy + game all together! I really wanted some of my own, and was delighted when I got a set with 20 character figures (including a guy kicking down a door). I was really excited when I found some plastic figure sets, as they were more within my allowance range. I remember coming up with characters for every single figure, making little index card character sheets for all of them.

I have fond memories of sitting out on the back porch on a nice day trying to learn to paint them. My father helped me out, and I still have the figures he painted (which are much better than the ones I did at the time!)

* I didn't actually get to play much with other kids. I did use the random dungeon generator a lot. Making dungeons (randomly or otherwise) was fun.

* My father had a book with maps of real caves; I converted a lot of them into D&D dungeons.
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7. RPG Item: Star Frontiers [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:826]
Brian M
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Of course, I started to expand past D&D. I got this one, as did some friends, but all I remember of playing was a friend (the same one who ran Tomb of Horrors) trying to use the system to recreate The Road Warrior, which he was a bit obsessed with.

(He was also quite fond of making 'Road Warrior' Lego cars and then ramming into each other).
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8. RPG Item: RuneQuest (1st Edition) [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:448]
Brian M
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Then one of my friends found Runequest. This was just cool. I was delighted when I managed to find a copy for myself - it wasn't readily available.

All I can remember about playing it, however, was that my character was a Duck, and at some point I tricked a group of guards from a castle we were attacking/infiltrating into climbing into a catapult and then launching them. There may have been a spell involved.
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9. RPG: RPG Sandbox [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:208]
Brian M
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Lisa was into making assorted odd RPGs early on that she and Nissa played.

One was called 'Army', which was about training in military classes; improving stats in marching, shooting, martial arts, etc. Characters progressed through different classes, graduating from early classes and unlocking advanced classes, and later being able to teach classes.

One that we played more later was 'Kingdom', which involved players drawing from a deck of normal cards to find out which characters they were playing in a fantasy kingdom.
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10. RPG Item: Book 08: Scorpion Swamp [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1892]
Brian M
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I confess that I don't count the Fighting Fantasy game books as RPGs, but RPGG does, and I played them a lot when I was young!

I had (well, still have) Scorpion Swamp, Book 03: The Forest of Doom, and Book 04: Starship Traveller (which I never beat). Many years later, Lisa and I played Hell House together while on a car trip; the passenger reading while we both made decisions. Never beat that one either!
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11. RPG Item: MH-0: Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:895]
Brian M
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Someone brought this along on a Boy Scout camping trip. They were going to play a big battle of heroes vs. villains, with each player controlling one character. It sounded so awesome, but we never actually played it. I did read a lot of the rules.

I really wanted this game for a long time after that, and kept trying to make up my own rules for it.

Eventually I found a copy of the basic book at a book flea-market and convinced my parents to let me buy it. Whee! I wouldn't play it until years later though.
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12. RPG Item: James Bond 007 [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:156]
Brian M
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As I got older, the James Bond RPG marked the first time I played a game with friends and we actually started to move towards roleplaying, or indeed doing more than just messing with the components! Our plots were pretty simply and were probably held together by logic even worse than Hollywood usually employs, but we were starting to move past "cops and robbers with dice" into actually beginning to tell stories and create characters.

I think the system of Flaws in the RPG contributed to that; it was the first mechanic to actually get us thinking more in terms of the personality of the character. But mostly I think it was probably simply part of growing up.

I don't remember much about any games. I know I ran one involving some evil organization that had built a super-submarine, but I haven't a clue what they were going to do with it.
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13. RPG: MechWarrior (1st Edition) [Average Rating:5.01 Overall Rank:793]
Brian M
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Everything so far was in elementary school and maybe the first bit of Junior High. Around then, most of the friends I knew moved away, putting a major drop in my ability to play games.

I did make one good gaming friend in Junior High, but I don't think he was every really into RPGs. Instead, we played a lot of BattleTech, Ogre and stuff like that.

I also went to my first convention; MileHiCon. My father had been invited to be on a panel about dinosaurs. I discovered the game room, and played my first miniature game, which I thought was incredibly awesome.

Nowadays MileHiCon has the "Critter Crunch"; a battle-bots type tournament in which people build robots to fight it out. Back then, they just had the "Critter Crawl", which consisted of a very large table on which people piled as many wind up, battery powered and remote controlled robot toys as they could find, all running.
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14. RPG Item: Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:5913]
Brian M
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Late in my Freshman year at High School, I discovered there was an RPG club at my High School!

I was able to play a few games of Palladium Fantasy, but didn't have much fun with it. I rolled a character who was only fit to be a fighter, but had about 3 HP. I dropped if someone so much as glanced at me. In the first fight, I was knocked out by a slingstone from an ally.

The two people who started the club were seniors and left at the end of that year, so it didn't last long.
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15. RPG Item: DL04: Dragons of Desolation [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:5305]
Brian M
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Lisa got a bigger game group in High School as well (unfortunately, despite being only a short distance apart, we were across school dividing lines and went to different High Schools. Meeting earlier than we did could have made High School a lot better!)

She knows the group mostly played D&D. The main thing she remember is playing the Dragonlance games, and trying to sneak people past a dragon and waking it up by mistake.

GM: "You're toast".
Player: "But wait, we jump into the water canals on the edge!"
GM: "OK, you're soggy toast".

EDIT: Corrected this entry from Desert of Desolation to Dragons of Desolation.
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16. RPG: IFGS Fantasy Rules (1st - 7th Editions) [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Brian M
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In early high school I also got involved the International Fantasy Gaming Society. Running around in the woods with mock weapons!

I think I only played in two or three games, and don't remember much about them beyond that I played as a wizard. Except in one indoor dungeon crawl at a con when I played a paladin.

I NPC'ed in several more. Don't remember a lot of details there either, except one where I was one of several undead zombie things, and we all were hidden around a field in thick brush so we could arise around the party when the necromancer called them up. That caught a few groups by surprise.

Oh, and I remember waking up early in the morning at a con, heading out into a dark room, and being confronted with a fairly realistic eight foot giant spider that was a prop sitting around. That gets you awake fast!
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17. RPG: Unpublished Prototypes [Average Rating:9.50 Unranked]
Brian M
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At some point I encountered a bunch of wildly dressed people with foam weapons in a park. This group, called Castle Quest, was a bit different from the IFGS. Where the IFGS was complicated, requiring set-up time and fees, this group just met in a casual manner every weekend. Events were set up spontaneously. Mostly just battles (both pitched and commando), but we mixed it up with GM'd quests and assorted scenarios. I had a lot of fun with this and went as often as I could, and made a lot of friends.

Eventually, the group fractured in two due to the rather ego-maniacal nature of the guy who founded the group, with lots of assorted drama. I was part of the group that founded a new group. At this point we started focusing on adventure/quest games a bit more.

Some notable memories from this time:

* The aforementioned megalomaniac and some of his buddies really liked to win. At one point we played a game in which a team was tasked with rescuing a captive from the this group. They had choice of captive and picked me (I was the highest level character on the other side). This left it a bit of unfair match. Me captors found a defensible spot on the side of a hill and waited. When the rescuers attacked and had them all busy, one guy playing a ranger crept around down the hill, got me free, and we snuck off to the victory locations. The captors were absolutely outraged that we had won this.

* I normally played a wizard, but I really enjoyed melee combat. I defeated more than a few opponents by challenging them to non-magical duels.

* We had one guy who was built like a tank and ex-military. Actually a really nice guy, but he sure looked scary and was absolutely nasty in a fight. Well, during one fight he gives this furious battle cry and charged, sending a few opponents running, and one twelve-year old mage standing looking petrified in his path. Until he was almost to her, when she suddenly dropped to her knees under his swing and whacked him twice in the legs. The look of surprise on his face was priceless.

* When I took a break from a wizard, I built a big sword with a large handguard, which was unusual for those weapons. It was awkward to wield, but fairly easy to defend with.
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18. RPG: Call of Cthulhu (2nd - 6th Edition) [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:1]
Brian M
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I know I was introduced to Call of Cthulhu at a convention, but the only memory that sticks with me is that my character was going pretty nuts, and we were trapped in some kind of alternate reality and needed to sacrifice a bird to cast a spell.
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19. RPG Item: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1046]
Brian M
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I never got into Palladium Fantasy, but thought the character creation in TMNT was really cool. I didn't know anything about the comic books though.

I recall playing/running this three times:

* I tried to teach some other players with the included barnyard animal/school hostage scenario. As I recall, it didn't go so well, as the stealth tactics the players tried to use weren't really covered by the system very well.

* Between rounds at a long speech/debate meet, someone else ran a game. I remember I had a bullfrog. With a grenade launcher. Which was way too effective.

* At a con, I played a game based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (yes, seriously) in which all of the animals were based on movie/TV characters (the scientists who created them had given them personalities that way). We had to roll dice to decide who got the MacGuvyer hamster, which basically everyone wanted. This wound up being the only useful character, as everyone else was designed for combat and the entire "adventure" had no combat in it.
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20. RPG Item: Traveller [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:215]
Brian M
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Actually, I have no idea if I played Traveller or not. I played some sci-fi RPG at a con, and Traveller is the only one I know from that era.

The GM informed the players our employer would provide any equipment we needed. This led to something like 2 hours of players studying the books trying to pick up every conceivable useful item. I had glanced briefly and picked a flight suit and sniper rifle.

I then proceeded to do just about everything as I was just taking action while everyone else was trying to figure out what of their gear to use.

My con experiences, overall, were not stellar.

(Anyone know of a sci-fi game with flight suits, so I can accurately place which game this was?)
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21. RPG Item: Elfquest [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:6563]
Brian M
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Immediately followed the sci-fi game mentioned above. Again, not a lot I remember, except for encountering a prairie fire and needing to run from it, and that with all the LARPing I was doing I wasn't into the "wait let's discuss what to do for half an hour when our characters only have seconds to react" that the other players were; I just wanted to make snap decisions as if I did only have seconds to react.
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22. RPG: Blake's 7 [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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OK, so Lisa didn't actually play the Blake's 7 RPG (does it even really exist?), but she and her friends, who were fans of the show, did play an RPG based on Blake's 7. I think they mostly just played freeform. She recalls that she played Dana.

Years later, Lisa introduced me to Blake's 7. Years after that, we managed to buy the series on DVD and picked up a multi-region DVD player just to watch it.
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23. RPG: Paranoia (2nd Edition) [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:38]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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I'm not sure exactly when in this timeline I first played Paranoia. I know that I played several games at conventions with a GM named JJ who was quite brilliant, running clever, funny and often hilariously disastrous (for the PCs) games. He was very light on the rules, a trait I carried through when running Paranoia later. He also used M&Ms as treason points - when you died, you got to eat your treason pool.

I remember in one game, everyone had a secret society membership card. The GM made sure to point out that this was treasonous and being caught with it was big trouble.

Appropriately worried about this, when my time as Media officer (handling the multicorder) came to an end, I passed a note to the GM that I was hiding my membership card in the multicorder.

Some time later, a briefing was suddenly interrupted by a surprise inspection. Each PC who had a membership card was immediately sent off for "retraining", never to be seen again.

I, of course, did not have a membership card.

One other player had wisely decided to ditch his card as well. Imagine his surprise when the inspectors, however, discovered a membership card in the multicorder that he was carrying, which was obviously his!

As the only surviving character, I was promoted to mission leader.

Of course, this meant I was in the most blame-targeted position with the entire rest of the replacement clones annoyed at me, so I didn't last long. Such are the fickle fortunes of Paranoia.

devil

Paranoia remained a staple game for me for years; something I'd run often with game groups when he didn't have a game going, or wanted a break, or something quick, or whatever.
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24. RPG: GURPS (1st & 2nd Editions) [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:396]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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My Sophmore year of High School (IIRC), a friend who I had known back in Elementary school, Eric, moved back into town, and the two of us got the school gaming group going again. In addition to leading to a lot of gaming, this made a big difference to my overall high school life, and meant a lot of new friends.

Most of the players we brought in had no prior RPG experience. In a lot of ways, I think this was a good thing; the group was able to build without a lot of past baggage, and I think that overall the experienced players we did have were pretty good at GMing and introducing the games.

Early on, we played a lot of GURPS. No idea where we found GURPS or why we picked it, but one universal system seemed pretty cool.

Again, I don't remember a lot of details. But I do recall:

* A game I ran set in the Star Trek universe with the next generation crew.

* A Shadowrun-ish game I ran mixing magic and tech; can't remember a lot of details.

*Eric ran a big fantasy adventure game. I remember more about this one. I wasn't the GM for a change, but I'd helped him plan the world a lot. This left me in a bit of an odd spot, as I knew a lot. So I made my character an evil sort-of-NPC. He had compatible goals with the other PCs for now, but if we switched things around later and I ran instead, he was likely to go full evil and become an opponent.

The main thing I remember about the game was using creative fire control magic to seem way more intimidating than I really was, and one of the other PCs, a noble knight, suspecting that I was up to something and confronting me. However, the other player habitually played thugish/nasty character, and really wasn't doing very well with being an honorable knight; the rest of the party trusted me more than him!

* Pretty sure there was a second fantasy game with a pretty eclectic mix of characters. I remember one player had a minotaur, and I think my character was a werewolf (who just turned into a wolf, not a wolf-man; in such a state he was basically animalistic; not a "monster", but not "in control" either). I did wind up chasing after one other PC who insisted on sneaking after me when I went off into the forest alone one full moon evening, after repeatedly telling the party I had private business to take care of.

* Eric ran a game based on Robert Aspirin's Myth books. I recall that I was playing Skeeve. I probably would have preferred to play Aahz. But I don't remember much else about the game.
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25. RPG: Shadowrun (2nd Edition) [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:154]
Brian M
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Thornton
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One of the guys from Dragon's Keep (above) decided to run a Shadowrun game. I don't remember a lot about it; he was a decent GM, but didn't really understand the game very well. And he never figured out how 'experience' (ie, Karma in Shadowrun) worked, so our characters could never advance.

Later another GM took over. He was...not good, to say the least. He made a lot of absurd rules calls, constantly had us fighting dragons, and ran one adventure that was basically just going through a "dungeon" in which some nutcase had collected all the monsters out of the RPG book, which was surprising him about how boring the monsters were without a realization that it was how he was using the monsters that was boring.

One player and I made the best of this and rolled with his crazy stuff (usually we'd argue any absurd ruling he made briefly, and then just use it to our advantage, which would actually cause him to revise the ruling), but things came to a point when he had a new player who hadn't gotten to do much all game get incapacitated from the damage inflicted by her running her car into a pedestrian. When she was driving an armored car. And was a rigger. At this point, we decided he should take a break from GMing, I took over, and we ret-conned that event.
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