Summer Vacation and My First Monster.

Ah, the lazy days of summer. It makes me think back to all those days I laid around in the air conditioning reading D&D books and coming up with cool stuff.


The first time I read through the AD&D Monster Manual, my first instinct was to create a monster.

Okay, I was 10. I was the DM for our group. One of my friends loaned me his AD&D Monster Manual so I could throw more XP their way. I skimmed through the whole thing. There’s a lot of goodness in there. The thing that naturally stuck out to me were the dragons.

First, a tiny bit of backstory.

I grew up in a small Iowa town. When school wasn’t in session, there wasn’t a ton of stuff to do. This was before the internet was a thing. Summers were mild until about mid-June. My parents house was old and got super hot. Hanging around in front of the air conditioner was a necessity sometimes. Like so many others, I had a small dedicated group of like-minded nerds.

My summer vacations were full of Kung Fu or kaiju movies on Saturday night, after pro wrestling and Pac Man on the ATARI 2600. Backyard baseball, swimming at the public pool, and of course, D&D rounded out my days. Those really hot summer days were spent camped in front of the air conditioner.

That’s when I did a ton of reading. I digested the entire 1st Ed AD&D DMG and a book on Zen Buddhism one week, the Monster Manual 2 and a Stephen King novel the next. Somewhere in there I drew dungeon maps or created Marvel Superhero bad guys for game days.

A couple of years later, it was all about horror movies and DC Heroes. Star Wars RPG came out somewhere in there and all of us were big fans, so that became a regular game session for us. We also played a lot of Battletech somewhere in there.

I was hoping my first character would be a ninja.

Those were the Basic Days. I ended up playing an Elf. I was somewhat sneaky and roguish. Oriental Adventures wasn’t a thing yet. But, I still got to swing a sword and throw Magic Missile around.

Imagine my disappointment when there were no actual kaiju in the Monster Manual. Dragons are cool to this day, sure. But Godzilla is king of the monsters. So, the first monster I ever created was the Plutonium Dragon. I also made its frightful cousin, the Uranium Dragon. Alas, I haven’t seen the notebook pages they were written on in a long time.

I miss being a kid and looking forward to summer vacation. There was always that sense of wonderment and well, adventure. Sure, I still come up with new monsters, but there will always be radioactivity spewing nightmare fuel dragons.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you as always. Have a great day. See ya soon.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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