The RPG(s) that got you into the hobby

So the same thing applies here. Not necessarily the game you started gaming with, but the one you fell in love with, felt inspired by, and so on.

For me it was Rolemaster, late 1980s, particularly when Space Master became available as well. Finally I could do the huge genre mashups I’d wanted! But also enough spells that magicians would look different from each other, enough weapons that warriors ditto, enough other skills that you could play all sorts of non-combat characters who would still find interesting things to do.


My brother ran me through 1 session of 1st edition D&D back in '85 or '86 when I was just a kid, and I was immediately hooked. But, due to the Satan Scare of D&D back then, my parents outright refused to let me play again (my brother was always rebellious and so just went to play at his friend’s homes).

I went to visit a family friend one weekend and he took me to his FLGS where we played one session of the Star Wars RPG (it was d6 based, I played a Wookie, he played a smuggler). I bought a book called “The Sentinels,” a sci-fi RPG that looked like a lot of fun… it wasn’t until about two weeks later that I realized it was a sourcebook for a game I didn’t own and therefore couldn’t play.

It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I managed to circumvent to “No D&D Rule” by playing different RPGs. We started out with Robotech (by Palladium Games), moved on to “TMNT and Other Strangeness” (Ibid), and then from there onto Rifts (Ibid). The rule system was a mess, but it seemed way better than D&D that I remembered (I owned the Red Box set, but my father had taken it and destroyed it within a week… my dad was not a kind man), and because it wasn’t “fantasy” themed my parents were grudgingly okay with us playing.

We had a lot of fun in that Rifts campaign, although the group was basically a bunch of min-maxers. My group consisted of 4 guys and 2 girls (plus me) regularly, and each adventure usually involved a few fights with brief actual role-playing between.

Then I went to university and desperately tried to reinvent myself (full disclosure: I was an ass growing up, and just didn’t realize it until I was 19 or so… moving away to university helped me learn a lot about myself, and I didn’t like any of it). So I moved away from RPGs for a long time. A buddy introduced me to Catan around '99 (my 2nd year) and I latched onto board games as a thing to do. I still dabbled occasionally in RPGs (I played one game of “Mage: The Magening” and two games of “Paranoia”), but I gave them up as something I didn’t have time and/or money for until… gods, the next time I played in a campaign after university (I finally graduated in '03) was probably '15? A friend ran a D&D 3.5e campaign, and I played a human paladin, but then moved away from him.

Anyway. Rifts. Heartily do not recommend to anyone, but the art was great and there were a lot of really neat ideas buried in those horrible combat rules.


This one is very simple. My ‘cousin’ who I have barely interacted with since then ran a short session of D&D for his brother, my brother and I when we visited one time when I was 12 or so c1983

That was it. I’ve essentially GMd many games since then on the back of that one, transforming experience. Had many great times since. Highlights:

  • in the middle of WFRP 1 Ed Enemy Within when the party poisoned the whole clientele of the Drowned Rat pub in Middenheim. Still referenced today, from c 1987 …

  • A completely extemporated Cyberpunk 2020 campaign which was bloody and brutal

  • Traveller New Era running Vampire Fleets and Reformation Coalition raids. I know it is widely derided; we loved it

  • Party achieving victory at the end of a particular Call of Cthulhu campaign by setting off a nuclear bomb whilst they were in the vicinity. Everything died.

  • And back to the start, almost, online D&D on Roll20 providing a mental health lifeline from the start of the pandemic.

I am lucky to have friends who have stuck together and indulged me with this since teenage years. Long may it continue.


TSR’s marvel super heroes role playing was the big one.

I knew I dug it when I got to play with the red box at school but the satanic panic meant that couldn’t come home.

Comic books were okay and I was already a fan so FASERIP was the be all end all for most of my childhood.

West End Star Wars and Palladium came in during high school and then a lot of White Wolf during undergrad.

GURPS and Champions (hero system) kept me into the hobby as an adult because of modern weirdness and conspiracy through GURPS supplements and legacy champions games.


As mentioned in the other thread, Top Secret/S.I. was my first RPG. A friend in 6th grade taught me and two of our other friends how to play. Completely incorrectly, I later learned when I purchased the game for myself. Still, we had a lot of fun with it.

The same friend, at our urging, ran a very quick D&D session for us, having our quickly made 1st level characters go up against a green dragon and get slaughtered. I think he had no interest in playing D&D, so just wanted to get it over with. The fantasy setting really grabbed me and one of the other players, though, so I managed to get a copy of the old D&D red box no too much later, and he and I played it a lot, getting the later boxes as our characters leveled up. I picked up the AD&D 2nd edition rules the following summer and we moved on to that.

In high school, we joined the gaming club run by a priest. He would do an AD&D adventure every couple of months, which usually had 10 or so people playing. My usual character thought he was a dragon! It was chaos! It was fun!

When Timothy Zahn published the Star Wars: Heir to the Empire trilogy of books, my childhood love of Star Wars was rekindled and I picked up the West End Games Star Wars RPG and my friend and I had fun with that for a while. In college, I eventually found some people to play with and it was mostly White Wolf games. During summer breaks, I’d get back together with my high school friends and join their D&D 3rd edition games. Post-college there was some D&D now and then but RPG’s mostly faded away.

Other than a brief period a few years ago where I was playing Eclipse Phase and FFG’s Star Wars RPG with some people I was introduced to, it’s pretty much just become a thing of the past, but I would have no qualms about getting into it again.


My first buy was Rune Quest: Glorantha, mainly because I loved the book design and that mini encyclopedia inside. I probably was 12 when I bought it, but never played it.

My first ever RPG game was in Uni already, playing Cthulhu. where we had a couple of what today would be called one shots, back then being short adventures. So after 2 or 3 sessions I bought Vampire: The Masquerade, and ran it as GM. We had 3 or 4 sessions, then we switched to Vampire: Dark Age, but it was really tricky to get the group going during University (we were all studying Vet Science and it was a nightmare between exams and practice to find spots in the calendar for all of us).

After that I had a couple of sessions of Legend of the Five Rings with a different group of friends. We played also Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, but after 6 months it died out, and I moved to the UK.

Last December, I was offered to join a game of D&D 5th Edition, and I have been hooked since then. We are running the game at least monthly (schedules and COVID permitting) and I am really hooked. This last month I started DMing for my partner and children, and I already have been asked to DM for my group of friends here in NZ, so I am looking to start the Phandelver Mine with them.


As I mentioned in the related board game inspiration thread, it has been nearly 40 years since I got into roleplaying - and nearly 30 years since I last played.

I was lucky to have three main gaming groups pretty much throughout that time, with groups among school friends, my Scout and Venture Scout group, and playing with my brother and some of his friends too, so we dabbled in a great many titles in that time. I got rid of most of my games from the time after returning from university when I didn’t have the time or friends to play with - and, of course, I regret that now.

My gateway title was the red box D&D Basic set for my 10th birthday, a gift from my godfather. I created my first character (a Dwarf), played my first session that evening and loved it. I played that pretty exclusively for a year or so with a small group of school friends and although we dabbled in a few other games briefly - TSR’s Star Frontiers and Gamma World, Call of Cthulhu, FASA’s Doctor Who and Star Trek - it was a couple of years before we moved to AD&D when my father returned from a work trip to the US and bought my brother and I the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual. Deep joy.

In the mid 1980s several other titles arrived and quickly became popular. TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes was ideal for us all into our comics at the time, although the West End Games Star Wars d6 system was our favourite and most regularly played game among my school group - and still probably my favourite ever system as I have mentioned in a few posts here already. AD&D largely took a back seat except among the scouting group, although at school we tried Warhammer Fantasy Role Play which was a nice change and had some great modules and campaigns although the system proved overly complicated.

There was a lot of love for the Palladium systems at the time too, especially Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Their systems always felt a bit clunky and most of the joy was in making new characters but the combat ran okay so we got through a good few games of that. We briefly tried Heroes Unlimited and Rifts too but my personal favourite of the Palladium range which isn’t mentioned often was Ninjas and Superspies, where a party of 80s action hero archetypes undertake dangerous missions, leading to very lively gung-ho sessions.

About 5-6 years ago, I became curious about roleplaying again: playing Dungeons and Dragons Online on my PC made me wonder what the latest ruleset was like. A bit of reading lead me to realise that that game was based on D&D 4E rules, but there was a D&D 5E ruleset out so I found the free online rules, read those eagerly and bought the Players Handbook quickly afterwards - and have bought many other 5E books regularly since. I hope to get the time and group to roleplay in person again, or even online if not, and although that may take some introduction into my small newish boardgaming group, possible something with lighter rules will be a possible stepping stone. Monster of the Week might just be that gateway rpg for them.


I first heard of RPGs at Seacon '79, a Worldcon and my first SF convention. I first got to play them in October '79 in my first weekend at university, liked the experience, and have been playing ever since. At university, that was a large club that played a severely (and variably) houseruled OD&D, a smaller group that played AD&D1e, approximately speaking. Other RPGs that influenced me in the early years were RuneQuest 2, from summer 1980, C&S 1e, DragonQuest 1e, and SPI’s Universe.


Vampire: The Masquerade 2nd ed in 1995. Yes, I know.

I also played some AD&D 2nd around then and that probably had a similar impact.

The first one was probably a science teacher at secondary school getting a group of us to play En Garde!. (And boardgame Diplomacy, which is a terrible for idea for classmates, families, anyone who doesn’t want to fall out with each other)


As expressed in the other thread, Traveller was my first. I recently completed the Pirates of Drinax campaign, my first successful campaign of Trav in about 20 years after a couple of failures. I’ve still not got much use out of my Traveller New Era or Milieu 0 books.

At university, after trying to run Traveller and failing badly I got the chance to play Cyberpunk 2020 (as it was cool in the 90s), Star Wars (ah, happy days before we got delivered more movies and the universe was wide open), and Vampire (it was cool in the 90s). The campaigns I remember best from the 20th century were Mage, Pendragon and Cthulhu.

There was a brief late 90s period where L5R and 7th Sea ruled my life, and I would weep that there weren’t enough games going for me to play every character type I’d ever want to in those games.

Finally, with 5th edition I’ve finally come around to liking a bit of D&D - it’s not my favourite game but it’s much more enjoyable these days.


Interested to hear your thoughts on Drinax. Whartson Hall started it, but I think we were all feeling rather rootless and without much clarity as to what we should do next.

As for Vampire… I didn’t play it then, and the setting is not really to my taste even now, but one can’t deny that it drew in a lot of people who weren’t interested in power-fantasy monster-bashing.


Interesting to see the Palladium name-checking in here. I think they had those Robotech and TMNT licenses at almost a perfect timing.

I came so close to Rolemaster re-defining for me. I had MERP as a high schooler but never played and found it intriguing. I didn’t get the Rolemaster boxed set until after all my compatriots were deep in White Wolf and then a friend kicked off GURPS for us soon after. I’ve got a pile of compendiums and the modern firearm supplement on my shelves but sadly never played.

I just bought The Collected Mechanoid Invasion, and Beyond the Supernatural by Palladium, recently. I owned Mechanoid back in the '80s but never played a Palladium System game. I definitely know what you mean about the rules, but reading the books is like putting on a comfy sweater and an old pair of slippers . . .


For me I think my first RPG love was Traveller, never got my regular group to play it (too interested in MERP, Space Master, then Paranoia), but I played it at the National Student Wargaming Championships for 4 consecutive years in the '80s.

However, the enduring love is GURPS, from when I mistakenly bought the first GURPS Space book in the early '90s.

So now my long term goal is to run GURPS set in the 3rd Imperium!


I still remember the typical reaction of players new to Space Master. For their first character, they’d see: aha, lots of different technical options, I’ll go for one of those. For their second: Armsman!

In the first edition, I think it was the assault blaster for which one player genuinely forgot that it had a single-shot mode.


I think my first Spacemaster character was an Armsmaster, because it was simple, but my second was a spy of some sort.

I remember trying to sneak with a bow (explosive tipped arrows, of course), round some bad guys in landed vertol thingy, and fumbling my sneak, breaking an arm. Then all hell broke loose and I ended up throwing the arrow into the crew compartment with my character’s good arm!


There was one particular artist who signed all his work with this little stylistic sort of “N” that looked very techno: my first exposure to his work in the Rifts universe was the art he did for “Naruni Enterprises,” a fabulous alien/transdimensional arms dealer that was kind of like the Ferengi but actually legit scary rather than comedic?

Anyways, I digress. His art was gorgeous. Let me see if I can find an example…

For the longest time we all thought that little signature was the company logo for Naruni. Is not… but we didn’t learn that until I think Rifts: Underseas came out because he did a metric craptonne of artwork for that too…

For anyone unfamiliar: that is power armour for a dolphin. Because obviously.
Seeing his artwork… cozy sweater.
I think he did most of the artwork for the Rifts Mechanoid Invasion too… but yeah. They did such wonderful world building… I can still picture half the cities in Rifts: South America (the first one) because they did such an evocative job describing them.


After learning of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons from some friends, I got the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual for my birthday from my parents (but mostly from my step-father). He showed me his original (near-mint condition) first edition D&D books, and his binders of characters, dungeons and campaigns that he still had from his teens and 20s.

Shortly after that, my step-dad’s best friend (who became a family friend) ran a game for myself and my two closest friends. The game broke down… mostly because I was too immature for the experience , but I still cherish the memory.

My friends and I ran a few AD&D campaigns, but they mostly broke down due to scheduling conflicts of high school students in a rural area that didn’t drive. Eventually, we all moved on to WEG’s d6 Star Wars and had a somewhat regular game going during our high school’s Role Playing & Games Club (meeting after school in the library, sponsored by a very cool teacher who had been married to a RPG gamer for decades and was very familiar with what we were doing).

The RP&GC somewhat self-organized into grade level. The grade ahead of me focused on Rifts a lot; the group ahead of them were 3 years into an epic AD&D campaign by the time I was a freshman and arrived on a scene. Sadly, the years following mine never really joined the club in numbers, and we ended up closing out the club when my group graduated.

In the latter years of high school, my friend group was pretty much running World of Darkness (Vampire mostly, a little bit of Mage and a shamefully small amount of Changeling) and WEG d6 Star Wars.

After high school, I just didn’t have the friend group and ended up getting a night-shift job and never had the evening availability that could have made it remotely possible to get something going.

I continued to buy RPG books for the next several years, but never had a chance to play until I rediscovered RPGs by attending a local gaming convention that my (then girlfriend’s) partner’s sister and brother-in-law were founding members.

For a couple of years, I would attend the convention once a year, play half a dozen or so one-shot games and then talk big about getting a regular game scheduled, but never actually finding success.

At some point, I psyched myself out of playing by watching/listening to actual play and thinking, “Oh, I’m not as good as these people are”.

By the time I mentally worked through all that, I had kids, and a pretty serious boardgaming drughobby.


In 1981 or '82 (I was in 5th and 6th grade with the same teacher in the same classroom, so the specific year is hard to peg down in my memory), some of my friends started playing “AD&D.” I use quotes because while they had the rulebooks (from older brother’s, I think), I don’t think they read them. Or they read them but didn’t understand them. The teacher let us play in the classroom during recess and lunch and we got a crowd of a dozen+ boys and girls playing this thing called D&D with mass battles but I have no idea what rules they were actually using. In our spare time, we would make huge castle and dungeon maps on graph paper from the classroom and a smaller group of us would play after school and on weekends.

I was gifted the Basic D&D Red Box from a classmate whose parents made him give away his D&D stuff (Satanic Panic BS). I still have the rulebook and Keep on the Borderlands module, though the box is long gone. I devoured the rules and got my own Expert set. Eventually, the classroom craze died down, we graduated to Junior High, and we started playing AD&D “correctly” and regularly. I picked up all the AD&D books. I tried to run a few times for other friends and my younger brother, but I sucked and it didn’t GM again again college.

The core AD&D group also dabbled in Star Frontiers and a few other games and evolved into a Rolemaster group. I was introduced to 2nd edition Champions by other school friends and learned how to use my RPN HP calculator making Champions characters.

Not much changed through high school, but a few incidents keyed me in that I didn’t play like the others. We tried Mechwarrior–their first foray into point-based systems–and they min-maxed the fuck out of their characters “If I get 5 points for missing hand, how much for just missing a finger?” All they wanted to do is roleplay chaos monkeys who went AWOL. I was stuck being their commanding officer and hated every minute of it. I still distrust military-styled games for this reason (and I continue to see this behavior with gamers today).

Another was a Rolemaster game we played after I came home during my freshman year in college. I didn’t have a character handy, so I played the PC of an absent player. I was later told by the GM–the very same GM who ran our gonzo “AD&D” games in grade school–hat I played the character better than the PC’s owner and that I actually roleplayed in contrast to the others of the group. By college graduation, I had drifted away from that original group of friends both in gaming and interests outside of gaming. 30 years on, I’m still playing.


Well D&D got me into the hobby in the late 70s and I loved D&D and AD&D but have no interest in playing D&D now. I had many great adventures with friends playing both. I bought Traveller when it came out and played it a bit. I also bought C&S but didn’t get beyond a short adventure. Then came CoC! I love CoC and still run it or derivatives of it as often as I can (not fond of 7th Edition though).