The first time I read the words Dungeons and Dragons, it was not on any book that had anything to do with the game. I was in 7th grade going to the Joseph Pulitzer Middle School in Queens, NY. There was a temporary building that housed the 6th grade. The whole side of the building was painted with the motif of four life sized dragons, their scales done in Exquisite detail, I remember the Red Dragon, a Green Dragon, a Blue Dragon, and a Black Dragon against the background of a lake, a rocky shoreline, pine trees, a mountain and a distant castle, silhouetted near the top.
It looked unusual and mysterious, and later someone told me that D&D is a special kind of a game and about the same time we heard about the suicide of someone, who played D&D. That same year my parents pushed me to play sports and I opted for a karate school, found a Ninja school, and then a kid who took Taw Kwon Do told me that Ninja school wasn't a karate school, but an art that might take a lifetime to master, and wouldn't tell me any more, and so I ended up wearing a black gee and kicking a punching bag at a school that had Gary Busey's brother Robert as its head sensei. The year was 1981, I was 13, none of this signified at the time, and I started on my life-long journey, that led nowhere. Sometime before that, I entered a local hobby shop with trepidation and bought a brand new Moldway Red Box Basic Set.
It took a while after that, before I played my first game, and it paled in comparison with the expectation of the great and magical and the mysterious, which that painting inspired in me. I couldn't get enough and between 1985 and 1990 I collected every role playing game and every Avalon Hill fantasy game that I could get my hands on. I drove a truck to support my habit and to pay for my college. Enlisted to pursue the dream of the man at arms walking along he shore towards the burning city in the distance. Had no time for friends OR D&D between working two jobs, going to school full time and participating in my reserve unit. But I wrote, dictating stories and term papers into my portable tape recorded as I drove on long hauls and I dreamed of D&D. It wasn't the world of the AD&D game modules, none of which I could afford at the time, but my own world, and there was that longing to play.
I played some, in college. It sucked. I tried running my own games set to my own stories having more to do with the subject of the "Escape From New York" the movie, "Dawn of the Dead", and Survivalism. I fascinated two or three players with my stories, told over 2 - 4 hour session as beginning briefings for campaigns that never materialized. I graduated in 1990 and at that time I was lucky enough to have found an engaging and original homebrew D&D campaign. Later I came to realize that all D&D campaigns are homebrew. DM moved away shortly after I got out of college, I gave away all my play things in anticipation of the adult life and in preparation for chasing other goals, what a mistake THAT was. I didn't get back into D&D until 2003, when I decided to make sense of the phenomenon by reading the Players handbook from cover to cover. Three years later I ran my first campaign with players who never been exposed to the game.