In 1980 when I was going to college I had to walk past a hobby shop to get to the bus terminal. They had this big display about a new "role playing game" called D and D. It was also all over the news about how this "game" was a cult that warped kids minds. So I wanted one of course. Didn't see what all the fuss was about. Sure I spent hours designing dungeons that nobody ever explored. Sure I shelled out another 12 bucks for the advanced version. Sure I shelled out some cash for modules. But they didn't Make me feel I was part of a cult :)
Maybe if I would have actually played it or been part of a group of people that did. Two years earlier I had read the Hobbit and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. And a few fantasy books. There seemed to be a clear cut line between fantasy and sci-fi which I normally gravitated to. Given a choice between exploring a space station or a dungeon I would have chosen the dungeon at that point.
I had heard someday computers would be playing d and d. The Apple computer had already shown that a simple 3D wire frame could be shown on a screen. And already there were programs used to create character profiles and attributes. As well as some basic dungeon master tools and random number generators to simulate dice. But the basic game was still played by a couple of people and paper and pencil.
I'm not going to explain how it's played because you probably already know if you are here. But in this wonderfully connected internet world now there is an official page for everything. So if you want to learn how to play or download a free beginners module. Go to playdnd.com
From there you can go to the main site and I am amazed at all the free stuff they have to download. Modules from 20 years ago converted to PDF files. There is a section with ready made maps. So much information. Even the bbs's of the 80's dedicated to D and D were nothing compared to a modern webpage.
By 1983 I had heard of a game for the Tandy Color Computer called Dungeons Of Something. It featured a 3D dungeon with monsters and all. Sure the Treasure of Tarmin on the intellivision was 3D but it was boxy. This was a real jagged edged dungeon. It wasn't until 99 that I found this cartridge, Dungeons Of Daggeroth, at a flea market for $0.50, that I found out what it was called. Of course it was well over a year later that I got a CoCo II to try it on.
Then there was Ultima and Phantasy Star and the DnD SSI games and then the thought of playing a real D and D game slipped completely the first time I played Tomb Raider ...