I’ve been playing RPGs for a long time; although these days I GM far more than I play. I’m heavily involved in Edinburgh’s Open Roleplaying Community (ORC Edinburgh) and run the website there as well, as well as the Edinburgh RolePlay Haven branch. The pages on this website contain resources for tabletop RPG gamers, such as settings, monsters, house rules, new magic, rules and other material, as well as background on the Mandragora setting (including rules for creating a Mandragora PC for D&D).
I’m resident in Edinburgh. I’m interested in most kinds of games, psychology, ancient Roman and WW2 history, writing, and sci-fi and fantasy. I’ve played a wide variety of tabletop role-playing, board, and war-games, from Dungeons and Dragons to Warhammer 40,000. I rarely war-game these days as it costs way too much and I’ve nowhere to keep the miniatures!
My very first gaming experience was with the Fighting Fantasy game-book called Starship Traveller, a Christmas present. After that I was hooked, and blew most of my pocket money on them. I moved into other game-book series: Golden Dragon, the Sorcery! series, and Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf books. I also dabbled in the Choose Your own Adventure series, my favourite being Horror at High Ridge, a surprisingly dark entry in the series.
In the back of the books, references to a roleplaying game called Dungeons and Dragons were often made, soetimes in the author’s biography too. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I was introduced to RPGs. At the time, the teaching unions were frequently on strike, meaning no out-of-school activities. I noticed that at one point that there had been a Dungeons & Dragons club.
A year later, the strike resolved, the D&D club started on Mondays straight after school. It only lasted an hour but it was the best we could get. The first game I ever played in was Traveller, and after that I was hooked. I became acquainted with a number of gaming magazines: Warlock, White Dwarf (which my local newsagent kept for me), and the Adventurer. 2000AD also released a gaming magazine called Diceman, where you played a comic book hero such as Judge Dredd in an RPG/Choose-your-adventure-style-storyline. In Diceman were a number of adverts for small metal figurines called miniatures from Grenadier.
A number of my classmates also collected miniatures, and I asked where I could get them. I wound up visiting a long-gone shop called Gamesmaster on Edinburgh’s Forrest Road. My first purchase was a Nazgul on Winged Beast, a £5 investment that seemed like a lot. Like a complete newbie I thought could do a great job of painting it with enamels. What a mess. Years later I did repaint them both! I still have a number of the Grenadier 25mm miniatures.
The first proper game I got was as a birthday present – it was Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. Suddenly, I had a whole new game to play… and I wasn’t the only one. A number of the Monday gamers had heard of it, and suddenly we were playing battles between space marines and Orks. I was in 3rd year at this time and I was pretty much free to do what I wanted. Virgin had an RPG/miniatures section, where I bought more miniatures and games like Dungeonquest, which I still own. I was playing during the holidays in a AD&D Dragonlance campaign. Another games shop called Mac’s Models also opened and they had a LOT of stuff.
The year after, everything changed. This was when the gaming boom kicked off. There were loads of companies, loads of games, and now less time to play. Ordinary and Standard grade exams meant actual study. I wasn’t happy at school and life wasn’t much fun. Gaming was pretty much an escape. I was still playing Dragonlance and WH40k, but by now was also playing Warhammer FRPG, Middle Earth RolePlaying (MERP) and Call of Cthulhu. These were mostly played at friends’ houses.
When Games Workshop opened their shop in the Royal Mile on a chilly November morning, my friends and I made our pilgrimage – we were all still at school and it was when we queued for hours with money-off coupons clutched in our sweaty little paws. I bought Adeptus Titanticus and Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness. At this time, we were also playing Space Hulk, Talisman and Space Marine/Adeptus Titanicus when we weren’t RPGing, as well as playing Warhammer 40,000 (or wh40k) .
I left school and began my wilderness years as it were. I still gamed, picking up AD&D, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and West End Games Star Wars RPG, selling a lot of my miniatures – in fact, nearly my entire gaming collection. I also played the Palladium RPG, Rifts, various home-brew games and the original Dungeons and Dragons. I also played Pendragon which I have never grown fond of. Mac’s Models closed, Virgin dropped its RPG section and gaming went into decline. It was getting harder for my old group to get together. We had jobs. Or university and college. Weekly games became monthly ones – folk couldn’t always make it. This lasted nearly 10 years – much of my collection was sold off on eBay.
Several years ago, I heard of the Ottakar’s Roleplaying Club (as ORC was called back then) and the Black Lion gaming shop. I never seemed to have the time to go, being a lazy git. The release of Dungeon & Dragons 3rd edition rekindled gaming interests along with the Harry Potter franchise, Eragon books, World of Warcraft etc. – both the fantasy genre and being a gamer were cool again!
Of course, more recently D&D has been the subject of a fan – and publisher – backlash over the Open Gaming License (or OGL). Consequently, you’re unlikely to find me running D&D as a result. It might be popular but then so is the Big Mac.