(I posted this in comments here and am egotistical enough to think that others might find it interesting.)
Let’s see. For me, like many people, it started with AD&D…sorta. The kid who taught me to play had the Dragonlance Adventures book and a worn-out copy of the Player’s Handbook. So we faked it. Somewhere in there a photocopy of the Basic D&D set turned up, too. In reality, most of what we did was just a mashup of stuff.
Then my parents expressed their concerns with D&D and made a deal with my brother and I. Instead of D&D, they would buy us a computer RPG that we could play. This was cool with us, so they bought us the original Bard’s Tale. I don’t think that we ever beat it, because then Bard’s Tale 2 came out (still the best of the series IMHO), and then Bard’s Tale 3, and then Ultima V, which is still the best computer RPG in my humble opinion.
But we returned to tabletop roleplaying. One year, while escaping a rained-out camp site, we stumbled across a copy of Middle Earth Roleplaying in a Waldenbooks in Warren, PA. My family has had a long history of being Tolkien fans, so when my mother saw it, all this roleplaying stuff clicked in her head. So she bought it for us. I still have that book. It’s pretty beat up, though.
MERPS and its big brother Rolemaster were my roleplaying mainstay through high school. I kept buying the newest “Rolemaster Companion” books as they came out. Also, I happened upon Hero System, which I originally bought to use as a genre mashup game. Instead, it became a side game that my brother and I played. We both made superheroes and then took turns GMing some sort of conflict for the other one. Each session essentially was a set piece brawl, which was really cool. We also had our first PC death during this game, which was surprisingly emotional.
Somewhere in here, I picked up a copy of Paranoia and gave that a run, but it just didn’t catch on as well as I would have wanted.
I think that I started playing Call of Cthulhu somewhere in here, too, but I’m not sure.
Then there was a gap while I was at college. Honest.
When I returned, I started running a Call of Cthulhu game at the local gaming store. High atmospherics for this one. I actually purchased glow-in-the-dark dice so that we could roll dice in the dark. This was the game that I set in our town with gamer PCs who all hung out at the same game store…so it was close to art imitating life. Very cool.
Then I got married, and there was another gap.
Somewhere in there, I started getting a hankering to play RPGs again. Sure, there were other games in the mix (Warhammer 40K, Epic, Netrunner, Magic, etc.) but I wanted to do roleplaying. So I purchased a copy of Mage (2nd ed.) and fell in love. The idea of “storytelling” was appealing to me, and I loved the freeform magic–excuse me, magick–system.
Again, I started pursuing the supplements. I also purchased Wraith and played it a couple of times. It didn’t take off in our circles as much, not because we didn’t like it, but because it was more intense than we cared for. Plus I don’t think that we quite had the techniques down to really appreciate the game.
Somewhere in this stretch, I started working on my first game Junk, and Graveyard Greg of the Gaming Outpost found me and posted on GO about the game. So, one day, I get an email from one Jared Sorenson, telling me that he had heard about the game at GO and was amused. Thus, I discovered the Gaming Outpost.
In that process, I started following the Orkworld Designer’s Journal and started interacting with this guy named Ron Edwards, who had a spooky game about demon summoning. “Oh great!” I thought. “All the uproar about gaming being Satanic, and here’s someone who is just making it worse.” Over the course of our discussions (and arguments, I’ll admit), I found Ron to have interesting ideas, which intrigued me enough to head over to the Forge when the forums were first launched.
In the meantime, I started researching diceless play and took a shot at Amber, but didn’t really like it. Then I got my hands on Unknown Armies and had the one of the most rockingest roleplaying campaign ever. We also played some Rune at the same time.
And, of course, we were playtesting my Legends of Alyria game, using some of these weird ideas from Ron, which, lo and behold, were actually working.
Then I played Nobilis, about the time of my move to Peoria, which managed to outdo Mage at all the things I loved about Mage.
Then I played Pendragon with Ralph, which suddenly ended due to work on Robots and Rapiers.
Then there were some fitful starts at various games, which didn’t work out well.
Then we played InSpectres. Then we played Primetime Adventures, which was a big success.
Then I found Polaris. Polaris totally rocked my world. Still does, in fact.
Then I bought Trollbabe as a “date RPG” for my wife and I, which has worked well so far.
Now I have The Mountain Witch on order, and I’m thinking about teaching Alyria to my children, and we have a little Spione action going on, and there’s still a Polaris game to return to, and now I have this other game roaming around in my head….