Although I had been roleplaying on and off for three or so years, my first experience with dedicated gamers came when I was 16 after I moved out from living with my Mother and moved in with my Father. Physically, this was a simple move from my home town of Blandford Forum to the next of Wimborne Minster, literally from North Dorset to East Dorset.
Through a small ad in the back of White Dwarf -- this being back in the day when it was a proper gaming magazine, I found that was a small club that met a few miles outside of Wimborne. Now better known as "Have Dice, Will Travel," the club consisted of several older players, who had been gaming since Dungeons & Dragons had come to the UK, and a lot of teenage boys, aged 14, 15, 16, and 17. This is in the days of First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and the games we played were old school, the most memorable of which were the classic adventures the G-D-Q series, I3-6, Desert of Desolation series, and later the Dragonlance series.
I still have a good selection of Dungeons & Dragons modules on the shelf upstairs, but really playing through the G-D-Q series was and is still my only experience playing through a classic Gygax style dungeon. Everything is big about this campaign -- the enemy, the scale, the scope, the battles, and the treasures. I lost my first character, a Ranger when a giant grabbed him and shut him into an Iron Maiden (I was furious as I had no saving throw, but upon reading the scenario recently, the DM was running the adventure correctly), but my second, a maximum level Gnome Fighter/Illusionist (this being back in the days when demi-humans had class level limits) spent alot of the dungeon riding a caravan of giant lizards hauling paniers of weapons looted from dead Drow -- the regular cry following a battle being, "Anyone got less than a +3 Dagger?" as I went through the treasure.
Playing over long Sunday afternoon sessions twelve of us sat on either side of the table and together battled all the way through the series right down to the final confrontation with Lloth. It was a monumental battle, our by now 12th level characters barely able to face her might. But our fighter, played by Alex Abbot, had armed himself with daggers, which meant he got four attacks per round, and he had also coated these daggers with poison. The DM, Jon Amos (you can find his name amongst the playtest credits for the modern incarnation of Dungeons & Dragons) let him do this, but ruled that the poison would not stay on the daggers for more than one strike. Not only did Alex have a very high chance of hitting (bout 19 or 20), but the Demon Queen had an exceptional Saving Throw against Poisons (2 or more).
Somehow we knew that this was our last chance. Lloth was too tough and so we watched with bated breath as Alex rolled. Success -- two hits! The tension ratchetted as Jon rolled the Saving Throws right front of us... The first a success for the Demon Queen... Disappointment on our faces as Jon reached for the dice again and then rolled...
Jon rolled a 1 and Lloth was dead. Alex had done it, we had done it. She was posioned and even if we could not actually kill her, but merely banish her for 300 years, it was victory. And we had not only been there, we had seen it. So many Sundays and how sweet the victory.
Since then I have moved onto different groups, most of them not interested in playing Dungeons & Dragons. Currently, I am playing in three irregular campaigns and really enjoying it, still playing a style that has really has changed very little since those games of my teen years. I have a yearning to go back and play those adventures again, perhaps even run them. I even wish that I could be running them for my daughter. Nevertheless, these are good memories.