Since an Early age I've enjoyed roleplaying... that's Dungeons & Dragons style roleplaying, not the pseudo S&M sexual fantasy mularky but the dorks, dice and dinnertable type of roleplaying.

Roleplaying takes many forms and is often confused with wargaming... which isn't my thing. Remember those "Choose your own Adventure" books that you could get from your local library back in the eighties? Well that was an early form of roleplaying, I moved from those to the Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone fighting fantasy books and Basic Dungeons & Dragons.

That style of book based roleplaying can be played solo (fighting fantasy style) or with friends and is often referred to as "Table Top" roleplaying.

From basic D&D I split down two paths... one continued with table top roleplaying with systems such as Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game, Palladium Books' plethora of roleplaying games, Iron Crown Enterprises (I.C.E.)' Rolemaster, Cyber Space and M.E.R.P. (Middle Earth Roleplaying) systems and more... The other came with the birth of computer based RPG's from The Hobbit on the ZX Spectrum, through the various Ultima incarnations to the recent influx of games like Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale & Neverwinter Nights (all based on different editions of Dungeons & Dragons)

Midway through my University career in the early nineties I was introduced to Live Action Roleplaying in the form of the Huddersfield Live Action Vampire Game. Based on the Minds Eye Theatre system (initially developed by White Wolf but now owned, as most roleplaying systems seem to be these days, by Wizards of the Coast). The system was different to anything I had played before in that you physically played the character. In table top games you roll dice to determine the outcome of various scenarios, in Fighting Fantasy you tossed a coin or chose a page to turn to and with computer games the computer's CPU would determine the outcome based on a variety of different parameters... yet here was I playing the character like an actor in a play. Of course there were rules and any form of outcome that couldn't be determined by your own powers of persuasion or deduction was determined by the highly laughble "Paper, Scissor's, Stone" technique.

The live Vampire game was the start, a part of the Camarilla UK society it allowed for the character to be played at other games throughout the UK and it spawned many other similar games in Huddersfield. Played briefly in other systems based on the White Wolf horror genres, my favourite being the Mage game that I helped set up with some of the other Huddersfield players.

Pretty soon I lost touch with one games master I played with and most of my roleplaying was dictated by my work timetable which meant I was pretty much tied down to the Live Games on a Friday evening and the occassional table top session with my best friend. As enjoyable as I found the Live Action games in Huddesrfield, they were lacking something... more socio-political studies than actual games... until a friend introduced me to Fantasy Live Roleplaying. Again towards the beginning of the nineties, a friend returned from a game called "The Gathering" he had loved every minute of it. He regaled me with tales of how he had played a half beast half man and had fought enemies with a latex weapon. The next few years I couldn't afford the cost of kit, travel etc. but was always spurred on by stories of what had happened at these events. My friends went to both The Gathering (run by the Lorien Trust) and Renewal (run by Curious Passtimes) on different years and every year I would hear the stories of heroism (and alcoholism). Finally, summer 2000, I could afford to attend one of the events. That year my friends were to attend The Gathering, some as a group of evil characters called the Belseraph and some as a group of heroic elves... I went with the latter and the rest is LRP history. I loved that first event, I had never thought I would have so much fun playing a character for almost every waking moment and actually fighting out combat scenarios, rather than drawing a hand for a paper-scissor-stones challenge, was a revelation. I've been back every year since and will continue to attend, trying new systems as and when I can.