In the summer of 1981 I decided to run another game. I got all my books, notes, and maps out, dusted off my introductory scenario—the Missing Cow again—and asked myself who might be willing to play. I knew a young lady named Kelli, who was my friend Kevin’s younger sister. She knew a couple of people from school: David and LeeAnn. One GM andthree players, an introductory scenario and notes for creating more, and a bag full of various dice. We were once again using the AD&D rules, with the exception of a few things we didn’t like, or care about, and with a few things we came up with that we thought would work better. This, in D&D terms, is considered orthodox and very traditional.

The previous Halloween (1980) I had gone out with some friends, smoked a joint, and proceeded to have a nightmarish and panicky experience. Using marijuana had become less and less pleasant, even while I realized I had a nightly habit. That Halloween cinched it. I was so freaked that I swore never again. And I didn’t. Which after a bad experience was easy, except when hanging out with friends who were still using it. So I had to stop hanging out with my one group of friends and find an alternative social life.
So I came back to D&D as a way of having fun but staying sober on Saturday nights. And it worked.

Kelli, David, and LeeAnn were soon joined by many others: Vincent (one of my earlier players, Kathy, Kathy, Sarah, Megan, Michael, Brian, Wendy, Raymond, Sherine, Russell (I have a story about Russell getting into gaming that will be posted soon), Lyn, Barbara, and several others who came and went. The world of Erom got bigger and more detailed, and the cool thing was that the players contributed a lot of it–often the very best stuff. That type of gaming was less common then than it is now; FATE and a lot of other systems incorporate a lot of player input, but for me it began in 1981, even though it had nothing to do with the game mechanics.

As we all grew up, graduated college (or high school and then college), got jobs, got married, got divorced (in my case) and took on life, the Saturday gaming group kept on. There were occasionally misunderstandings, a tiff here and there, and so on, but most of the time we were all gathered around someone’s dining table or rec room or whatever, and the game would go on. Michael had a Traveller game that verged on inter-dimensional fantasy, so he and I alternated weeks. David started up an excellent GURPS Horror campaign that was one of the best I ever played in; he later did a Vampire game briefly and then a game involving immortals. Dave was and is a creative person who Now has a number of novels out that are well worth reading.

Russell ran a Traveller game for a while. It was fun. I tried out a semi-historical swashbuckling adventure campaign using GURPS which I enjoyed running.

I finally got a little tired of GMing and took a hiatus of a year or two. Our group gamed on and I enjoyed just being a player. When I got back to GMing, I had decided to retire AD&D and restart my campaign using the GURPS rules, which in fact worked very well in the Erom Campaign. [Why that was might be worth a future post.] After running the Erom Campaign for a few more years, I took another hiatus. I was out of ideas, especially out of ideas for new stuff for the old characters. But then I thought of it: All New Characters! But how?I moved the story forward 20 years and let the players develop new characters. Some were completely new characters, but most were the children of the old characters. My players found fun and creative ways to work that: Dave’s Norse Priest of Thor had a son who was a courtier interested in stylish clothing and fine wine, just for example.

We played that campaign for a few more years. Saturday nights we would often make dinner. We had specialties like “Way Too Much Garlic Bread” and “Evil Hot Pepper Rolls.” Whenever someone in the group moved houses the others would come help pack and haul.We finally wrapped it up when two key players who had gotten married decided to move to the mainland. That was in early 1997. Starting in 1981, that made 16 years, dozens of players, over a half-dozen campaigns, occasional breaks, but mostly lots of creative fun. I wonder if I’ll ever have such a good group again. I can only hope so.