Bio in Brief: My name is AJ, and I have been playing Role-Playing Games for almost 40 years. I was at the forefront of the RPG explosion in the 1980s, and although I’m now a grandpa, I’m still gaming. So pull up a chair, pick up your dice, and let’s play!
The Life of a Gaming Geek
My introduction to Dungeons & Dragons came courtesy of a local newspaper article clipped by my mother. I’m not exactly sure of the year, but I THINK it was either 1979 or 80. She read the story and thought it was something her nerdy bookish son might enjoy. So when I got home from school she gave it to me. I remember reading the article 3 or 4 times in a row, thinking this must be the greatest game EVER. Immediately, I wanted to know more about the strange game where you could be all sorts of fantasy characters AND made up the story as you played.
Luckily for me, I lived in a military town, and soldiers often gravitated to games to pass their off duty time away from home. This made D&D popular in my hometown, meaning I could find a copy of the rules at my local hobby store. Within a week I owned the D&D boxed set, which included my first module; The Keep on the Borderlands.
I first played D&D with a childhood friend who shared my love of Tolkien and fantasy. Then I recruited classmates in school, a wargaming buddy in the Air Force who initially scoffed at this “make believe” game, and even my younger sister. As I moved from high school to college, we played mostly 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons, but occasionally branched out to Champions, Traveller and Star Trek. After college, most of my gaming friends stayed close by, and as we started our professional careers, we still made time to gather around the gaming table, pull out the books and dice, and slay monsters and save villages from destruction. Flash forward 30 years and we STILL make time to gather around a (virtual) gaming table and play. I often joke to my wife that my first love was really role-playing games. Outside of my immediate family, it is a relationship which has lasted longer than any other in my life. It has given me years of enjoyment, a circle of friends I’ve had for 40 years, and play a game WITH my friends instead of against them.
Why the Name Basement Bandidos?
Sometime after college, I bought a house with a basement. A basement is a bit of a rarity in the US South, but I wanted a space devoted to my gaming. It had a large room which I finished with drywall and carpeting. I got an old-style Coke machine I kept stocked with bottles of soda, and long tables where my fellow gamers could play until our heart’s content. We took to calling ourselves the Basement Bandidos. Looking back on it, it was the high water mark of my gaming life. We would play for hours on end without distractions (no one had any kids back then!). We are all older now, and many of us have moved away from gaming, replaced by mortgages, careers, kids and now grandkids. While those days are over, the name “Basement Bandidos” still brings a smile to my face. It was a special era in our lives when we could play as much as we wanted and enjoy poor diets with immunity (sigh…). The next generation is enjoying the latest version of Dungeons & Dragons, and I hope they get their Basement Bandidos moment; so that’s why I named this site what I have.