First of all, I'm a pretty lucky guy. I live in paradise (well, it's paradise most of the time) and have a great job and happy life. I wake up every morning beneath the palm trees and head out to sea to drive boats and spend time beneath the water. I've traveled to destinations and visited places underwater that few people ever get to see. My office view is definitely tough to beat....
But this is a blog about my unusual hobbies and I guess that's what I should concentrate on. I've always been attracted to fantasy. I vaguely remember the books and movies I most enjoyed way back when all dealt with the fantastical element. Sure, just like every kid I loved ET and Star Wars, but my heart always dwelt in the imagined past of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Conan.
It was back in the magical summer of 1982 that my life changed. I had recently moved to the other side of town and was the proverbial new kid when Chris Chew invited me to a birthday party campout in his back yard. After the normal stuff that kids do and when the parents had all gone to bed, Chris and his friends pulled out numerous books, boxes, miniatures, strangely shaped dice and sheets of paper and told me we were about to embark on a grand adventure. That night will forever remain as one of the most memorable of my life.
|My original copy of D&D|
From that night forward, I was hooked on Dungeons and Dragons. I played every possible moment and collected as much material and books I could get my hands on. For about the next six years my life seemed to revolve around the fantasy world. Though you could say I was somewhat obsessed and in some cases my grades and social life suffered, not all was lost. If it had not been for D&D, I'm not sure I would have become the reader I am today and in turn, would probably have missed out on Tolkien and Middle-earth.
|I still have my first copy of The Fellowship of the Ring|
It was a few years after my discovery of D&D that an English teacher introduced me to one of the greatest influences of my life....Professor J.R.R. Tolkien. Upon the first reading I was completely and totally enthralled and enchanted with the world of Middle-earth. Beginning then, and continuing to this day, his writings have profoundly affected me.
While I dabbled in other RPG systems (including Gamma World, Top Secret, Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader), D&D, along with Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP) were my favored games. To accompany these games I began to paint miniatures in the mid 80's. At first, painting minis was a way to represent our characters but I quickly learned to love bringing bare metal to life and painting became a hobby of it's own.
All good things must come to an end though. Half way through High School, something changed. Suddenly the fantasy world mattered much less than girls, cars, girls, sports, and girls. My huge collection of goodies began to gather dust and remain hidden in secret places when my focus changed to those of the opposite sex. Eventually, I abandoned playing and collecting completely in 1989 when I left for college. Before leaving I made a huge mistake....for some reason that I can no longer remember, I sold most of my stuff to a used book store. I can't even begin to account for all the items I lost that day nor why I did it. Fortunately, I saved a few items. Perhaps in my young mind, even then, I knew that someday I would return to the world of fantasy and the items I saved would serve as both an anchor to the past and inspiration for the future.
For the next thirteen years, I was away from the hobby. With the exception of rereading The Lord of the Rings every year (which I still do today), I had no contact with gaming. College, women, careers, and outside hobbies all kept me busy and quite satisfied. But a storm was brewing and little did I know that a certain filmmaker was about to bring back all those old memories in one fell swoop.
To be continued.....
The Hobby Tale of Years
1982: Dungeons and Dragons - Basic Edition: Moldvay
1982: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
1984: First reading of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
1985: First reading of the Dragonlance trilogy
1985: Miniature Painting
1987: Middle-earth Roleplaying (MERP)
1987: Warhammer 40k - Rogue Trader
1989 - 2001 - No Fantasy/Miniature Related Hobbies
2002: Lord of the Rings collecting - cards, books, and memorabilia
2002: First White Dwarf magazine (issue 265)
2002: Miniature Painting - GW LotR miniatures, LotR Strategy Battle Game
2003: First fantasy/medieval costuming
2004: D&D resurgence. First Dragon Magazine in 15 years (issue 324)
2004: Warhammer Fantasy and 40k resurgence
2005: Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA)
2005: Everquest II - 1st MMO
2006: Lord of the Rings Online
2008: Pirates of the Spanish Main CSG
2008: Wings of War
2009: Axis and Allies: War at Sea, Pendragon
2010: Legends of the High Seas, Flames of War, Pathfinder, A Song of Ice and Fire RPG
2011: Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG, Force on Force, Munchkin