When I was 10, in the winter of 1999-2000, the Dungeons and Dragons movie came out.
I didn’t see it, but my neighbors down the street, Sam and Max, did. Their dad had played D&D a bit in college, and described the game to them. Sam wanted to play. So he described it to me, and my next door neighbor Patrick, and our friend Clay, and Clay’s dog.
None of us had ever seen a D&D book.
Some things were lost in the game of telephone.
Sam was DM, because he was oldest. The rest of us grabbed sticks or spars of bamboo from the backyard. Short sticks were swords if you wanted to be a fighter. Long sticks were wizard’s staffs.
We’re out in our backyards, in the woods behind our houses, in the park down the street. Sam says we’re trying to get through a dungeon because Paradise is on the other side. He describes the room we’re in. Any monsters or obstacles or traps or objects there.
We’d tell Sam how we attacked the monster, usually by saying where on it we attacked. He’d tell us the monster died when he judged we’d attacked it effectively enough times. Tough monsters would usually only have a few, non-obvious weak spots, and take a lot of hits. Weaker monsters we could just kill in one blow. Sometimes we’d get several at once!
And then Sam would tell us how the monsters attacked. Usually he’d say it bit us in the arm, or the leg, and then we couldn’t use that arm or leg until we were healed. We had to drop our stick or hop around. Tougher monsters would attack more often.
Treasure was usually potions, scrolls, and one-off magic items. I don’t remember too much about the details, but I remember we found a scroll of Rainbow Blast, once. (A descendant of Prismatic Spray, or Sam’s invention ex nihilo? I’ve often wondered.) It saved our butts against some Apple People. There were a lot of them, and you could only hurt them by eating them, but by the time we figured that out, we had a lot of useless limbs and there were still a bunch of them left. The Rainbow Blast took 'em all out!
Then we’d move on to the next room, wandering over to a different yard or area of the woods or park.
When it was time to go home for dinner, Sam would tell us whether or not we’d made it through the dungeon to Paradise.