As a kid, I heard about Dungeons & Dragons but I didn't know how to get into the game. I had no books, I had no dice, and I had no one to play with.
Back then, I was into video games. I saw an ad for this Dungeons & Dragons starter set in GamePro magazine and I knew I had to have one. It was entitled First Quest and came with an audio CD and a map to run adventures with. It had a quick write-up about the world of Mystara and character cards with illustrations from Dragonlance (as I would later find out). Perhaps best of all, it would also be my first introduction to what is the Player's Handbook and Monster's Manual (albeit a simplified and revised one). It also contained books for spells the Wizard and the Cleric could know (1st- and 2nd-level spells). It was all really basic stuff.
Unfortunately, I had no one to play with so I ended up being the GM and getting two other people to try out the game. Because the audio CD provided all the narration, all I had to do was play the right tracks. Anyway, I can't remember the specifics of the game except that my two friends did manage to survive a fight of two. And then the boxed set was tucked away and we never played that game again.
A few years later, I'd finally meet a gaming group at school. The GM ran Temple of Elemental Evil and I wanted to play. Of course I didn't know the rules as my previous experience with the game was little. Everyone in the gaming group, however, was helpful and did all the math for me. All I had to do was roll the dice and dictate what I wanted my character to do. I even remember my character goal back then--to own Frostbrand, a magical greatsword that gave its wielder limited protection from fire.
We didn't really get to finish Temple of Elemental Evil (the GM moving on to college and the rest of us were stuck in high school) but one of my fellow players ran a game. I was eager to play the game but unfortunately my lack of knowledge about oozes resulted in a TPK (total party kill).
A year later, Third Edition came out. I was hanging out at the gaming store and luckily, I got to befriend one of the people who bought a Player's Handbook. It was then that I started to learn the rules of the game. I borrowed the book for a few days and read it from cover to cover. (The spells section made me sleepy.) Back then, the two other companion books, the Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster's Manual, hadn't been released yet. It seemed like one month's too long a wait for those other books! But that didn't stop us from running a game. Unfortunately, it would only last one session.
It wasn't until my second year in college that I'd find a gaming group and stick with them. Of course thankfully, by then, I was familiar with the rules of the game. When I was rolling the dice, I knew what I was rolling for. I bring this up earlier today, I tried to teach a friend about Dungeons & Dragons. Now I'm not the best teacher for the game considering it's a game with many variables and elements. The best I could do was provide him the tools for gaming. Which remind me, there should be an easier way of acquiring copies of The Player's Handbook. The local shops don't stock them anymore. Unfortunately, the one thing you can't teach is the gaming group atmosphere. They'll have to discover that for themselves.