Dungeons and Dragons, My Beginnings


I am one of those guys.
I grew up in the 70′ s and discovered Dungeons and Dragons, which I played heavily thru the eighties and lost track of it in the nineties.  My first glimpse of it was a blue paper bound and stapled rule book from TSR games  my brother left on his desk. I read it and wondered “what sorcery is this?  It was followed quickly by his copy of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s handbook. A singular work with incredible art work and a cover that still fuels my imagination today. For me, other role playing games followed , such as TSR’s Boot Hill, Gamma World and Top Secret, but D&D was always king of them all.B2571A08-7479-4348-BAF8-DDA2CA0B5BFB

You have heard all this before.
No one else played the game. In a world where my nerdiness was not cool, or even tolerated it was difficult to find other players.  I created epic adventures that never were played by others. Occasionally I was able to join a game in the city or cobble together  some friends to play for a day here and there. Those were incredible days, planning the adventures for weeks ahead, anticipating game day like a holiday. The game gave my imagination room to roam. The game set in motion so much of my direction as an adult that I never realized until looking back at it now. When I played role playing games I could be in control of a creative world and learned how to work with others, troubleshoot and problem solve in the most creative of ways.

After commanding and shaping so much of my life as a teen, my artistic focus, my travels and love of history, D&D slowly faded away and I lost track of my vast collection of notes, artwork, books and modules. Lost to time.


Until one day.
One day a few years back, right as the D&D 5th edition was getting rolled out. That day my son and I were in our local comic shop and he said the magic words”  dad, I really want to learn to play D&D”……..WHAT!! My brain screamed. What did he just say? We had watched a few d&d podcasts over the years , mostly marveling at the costumes and  listening to the jokes they told while playing,  inwardly I would marvel at the fact the game had survived. I had never really reflected or talked to my son about how important the role playing game had been to me.

Cut to that day in the store –  ever so coolly I replied to him, ” yeah, D&D…that’s still a thing?”
“Yeah,” he said, ,” I’ve watched a ton of podcasts of  game play on line.”
Ahhh….the internet.
They had a four sided kiosk in the store with a ton of D&D and Pathfinder game stuff on it.

We walked out of the store that day with the 5e players handbook and dungeon masters guide and a bunch of dice. Always dice.

The rest as they say, is history. It turns out, nerdiness is quite cool these days.

D&D it turns out is an even bigger imagination builder, community making adventure building powerhouse than ever before.

Shortly thereafter my son dreamed up a company and online community called NerdzGarage. Among other things they have been playing D&D at NerdzGarage for 18 months nearly every Sunday, now live streaming to YouTube and Twitch. There is also a lot of tabletop game play, anime, cosplay, conventions  and video gaming.

I occasionally play, I am constantly painting new mini figs and building terrain and ships and castles. I am along for the ride as NerdzGarage grows, writing about D&D,  collecting and writing about comics and playing tabletop games.

Earlier this month I was in Augusta, GA on business and got the call,  ” we need a storm giant figure for Sunday”

Me: Hey SIRI,  find a comic and games shop near me….

Come on along and  join us.



@nerdzgarage on the twitter, instagram and facebook

— This recollection by Nerdz Garage Head of Acquisitions  and Master Builder,  Derek “Jimmy” Smith


Frank Miller’s Ronin, 1983 and D&D



I went to my Local Comic Shop yesterday and my guy there said, “ Hey, you might like this trade (paperback) it’s a re release of Frank Millers series, Ronin from the eighties.”

I turns out, I love it.

The cover of DC’s re release of Frank miller’s Ronin series (1983).


I was in Burlington for the day to play some A D&D at a meetup in the public library. I was a bit nervous, going to play with total strangers. Would they let me play? Would they like me? Would I be good enough? Typical teen angst I guess, but it was my angst. Turns out, The answer was yes to all those questions, D&D has always been an accepting community. But I digress.

To kill time and calm down I went to a nearby arcade for a while and then to a comic book shop, Earth Prime.  I was browsing ( I had no more money to spend, I had bought some new D&D stuff and the rest was gone on arcade games) my usual books, Batman, Superman and Sgt. Fury when the counter guy interrupted.

“You might like this, I saw the D&D books in your bag.”, he said by way of explanation.

What he handed me changed my world. . It was book 2 in Frank Millers “Ronin “ Series , a short run 6 issue DC comic.  Only it wasn’t a comic. Not like Superman , Spiderman or anything else I had ever read. It was Gritty, had a real story and the art was out of this world. I loved everything about it. And, Samurai. Say no more. I already liked Samurai but this put me on the hunt for everything Samurai, Movies Books, games, everything.

As far as comic books go, it changed my world. I Understood with reading that one book (in the store without buying it) that comics were more than classic super heroes, that they were a vehicle for storytelling , archetypes and multiple layers as much as any novel. I just had to find the people that were making those comics.

From that I walked over to the public library, early, and found the room for “Advanced Dungeon and Dragons Game Meetup, 12:00 – til Closing (8:00 PM). The door was closed and I opened it to find 6 kids already there. The looked up from the table and in an instant sized me up and Cheered, “ Hey! We have a seventh!” Getting up to welcome me. They didn’t even know me.

“What’s your Name” “ What class do you play” “We have two Dwarves and an Elf” “A Druid and a Paladin, and a thief” “How long have you played” and on it went…I was instantly a part of this group and the Dungeon Master Looked me in the eye after everyone had settled, “ Welcome to the rest of your life, Derek. Your Party will be searching for a lost Tomb today, What Race and Class do you want to play as?”

“Samurai” I said , with only the hint of a nervous question.He laughed in a way only a Dungeon Master can,”  A D&D does not have a Samurai Class. Yet. We could design a class like that later on”.

So that day I went into the ”Tomb Of Horrors” with my brothers as a Human Ranger. I  lived and Fought as a Samurai  until the Library closed.


Derek Smith

Nerdz Garage