Were you guys ever in debate club? I spent a few months amongst that quarrelsome tribe back in high school, and while I can’t say I enjoyed the experience, I did manage to learn two very important lessons. Firstly, making faces at your opponents during debate is frowned upon. Secondly, you should always have a way to entertain yourself. As it turned out there were some very long periods of tedium between debate rounds, and I found myself bored to tears. At the one and only competition I attended I remember doing my homework, finishing my novel (thanks Piers Anthony), rehearsing my poetry pieces (thanks Tennyson), and still needing to kill four hours. As it happens, four hours is about how much time you need to play a session.

Some kids from another school were poring over these weird hardcover books. They were mottled green, had a rose on the cover, and said in big silvery letters Vampire: The Masquerade. I was intrigued. I struck up a conversation.

“Is this like D&D? I always wanted to try D&D.”

“Dude, it is so much better than that generic fantasy trash.”

I began filling in little circles with a #2 pencil.

It wasn’t the first time I’d encountered the Vampire IP. I had stumbled across a review of a video game called Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption in InQuest Gamer magazine a month earlier. I was already into Magic at this point, but since I was a bit starved for contact with fellow hobbiests, I read those things cover to cover. Anywho, this video game featured a French crusader-turned-vampire who gets a castle dropped on him and wakes up in the 20th century. I copied the idea verbatim. Because my dude was a knight (and because I couldn’t figure out what all those other weird skills did), I decided to focus on melee. And since it should already be obvious to you that high school Colin was a paragon of originality, I named him Bayle Domon after some obscure Wheel of Time  character.

I don’t remember much about the plot. What I do remember is being accused of “making a boring combat monkey,” “ripping off the video game,” and being called a “Wheel of Time asshole.” Suffice it to say that, when my character died while driving across town (“You didn’t put any dots in Drive. Your car falls off the bridge.”) I wasn’t too broken up about it. It did, however, take me a few years to give role-playing another chance.

What about the rest of you guys? Did you ever run into a “gatekeeper” type when you were first starting out? What was the encounter like?