By the year of 1980 many things were taking form in my mind making me fall into who I am through my beginnings of artistic expression. After discovering the musical side to my interests (the early phase of it) and acquiring books on horror and fantasy I started to illustrate dragons, barbarians and castles in my own rough way as an eight year old kid.
One of my great interests was in dinosaurs as a kid, I was nuts about them and collected every toy, fossil and book I could find. I drew them constantly and found a way to incorporate their appearance into a dragon's. Because of this, I wanted to be a Paleontologist when I grew up. Every day I imagined encountering a rare living dinosaur. Growing up and being groomed into being a bow-hunter, I camped a lot as a kid and spent my hours envisioning them stomping through the woods and in the water.
In the next year after a KISS album came out that really fired up my interest in fantasy. Although generally shunned by many, the Elder was a big influence on me. It was meant to be a soundtrack-like album to a film that was not yet made and it fired my imagination up. But even though this album was in the glam and flashier period of KISS's later history in the 70's when they were becoming trendy and disco-like (KISSco is what I call it), my interest in them was waning as I discovered the music that utterly defined me, and still does today.
(An earlier post of mine refers to this in detail). I had found Richie Blackmore's Rainbow, the first era with Dio singing and it was a revelation to me, and epiphany, that this was my calling. I snatched the first albums up rapidly and soaked in every second of them. My mind was driven wild with ideas but only my art to express them, and I wasn't that skilled to do so. It was also in this time that I found the group Rush. This proliferation of fantasy and medieval themed music fueled me for hopeful great things to come.
Combining this new fueled interest in the direction of fantasy and all things medieval, I also found metal gaming figurines in a local hobby show and with that the many game books (Monster Manual, Deities & Demi-Gods, etc) and was fascinated by the artwork even though I was not into gaming yet, or even knew or comprehended what it was at the time. I just knew that these books and figs were amazing and I could not imagine what else they were meant for except to inspire. And they did.
It would be many years before events fell together in just the right way that led me to gaming and to my Celtic studies. It wasn't until 1984 that I first understood what role-playing games were and the purpose of those figs and books. My best friend at the time named Tommy was given a copy of MERP (Middle-Earth Role-Playing) for Christmas. His parents assumed it was a board game but no one could figure it out. They bought him the adventure module "Bree and the Barrowdowns' as well for it.
Frustrated, Tommy let me have it to figure out, and after a few months of reading the examples in the book on game play it clicked. I ran him through a sample game and it all made sense to me powerfully. I found one of the best avenues to channel my constant and rapid imagination in one place. Role-playing games! The rules were overly complicated and were frankly a mess, but it opened my eyes to the whole subculture that was swirling under the surface and I was too young to know it.
After that I found a local gaming group in town that gamed every Saturday afternoon at our public library called the 'Worldmasters Club'. From there I arrived with the MERP game in hand and found a fellow classmate named JR and ran him in an adventure I devised, dealing with trolls in a cave holding Hobbits captive. The game only lasted a short while but it was the next major point in what became my gaming career.
By the mid-80's I was officially a gamer having to GM my first games and realizing the potential for great stories. I also was growing as an artist and finally began reading fantasy literature on my own, the first book being Robert E. Howard's 'Red Nails' collection ( I read this around 1982-3). My world was coming together by the time I was going on 14 and it was handy. I did not need any period of 'searching' to find myself as many people did through drugs, alcohol, etc. I FOUND my calling in life.
Next I will dive into the hobby at full speed and see what happens....