After reading all of the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks over the summer, at school I introduced a few friends to what I called “The Story Game.” I would give them a set up and they would tell me how they reacted and we would go back and forth from there. Most of the scenarios were ripped off from the gamebooks, but I was creative and melded elements of my own into the game to make it more interesting for me. Taking a cue from Fighting Fantasy, I placed it in the same world, so they became familiar with it over time.
We did not use dice and death came swiftly if you made foolish choices. I would like to think that I was fair about the game, since they would come back for more and wanted to keep playing.
It was not until a few years later, when I smuggled the red and blue boxes into my house, that I put the concept of “The Story Game” together with Dungeons and Dragons. I realized I already knew how to play and I could be the Dungeon Master!
Before that moment I had no idea that they were even remotely similar. I just thought Erol Otus’ cover art was awesome and when adults try and keep you away from something you are interested in it tends to increase that interest.
In my experience, explaining role-playing games to someone who has never played one before can be difficult. I’m not suggesting no one can understand how it works before actual play. There is just a vast difference between making awkward analogies trying to describe RPGs, rather than just having them sit down and roll up character and play. It’s better to show than tell, in this case.
In hindsight, it seems appropriate that playing the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks with the girls led to us playing Dungeons and Dragons.