|I didn't fight orcs. I fought Charlie. He was bad ass.|
That's sort of a tough question, because it was so long ago. Still, I'm pretty sure I can make an accurate guess. I want to say it was Palladium's Revised Recon, a game my best friend's older brother would run in a rather brutal fashion. We rarely lived through any of his scenarios. I half think he enjoyed watching us struggle and ultimate die in those games. I'm pretty sure we didn't really care, at least not at first. It was fun to play out all the Vietnam war movies we'd been brought up on, despite our sadistic game master.
When I first started playing role-playing games, I was in seventh grade. My experience with tabletop gaming was pretty slim by that point, and largely consisted of me reading Monster Manual and Monster Manual II. The reason I'd purchased those two tomes in the first place went back to my love of the Endless Quest books, which I'd picked up at an elementary school book fair in sixth grade. I'd read and re-read those things for hours at a time. I kept a good stack of Choose Your Own Adventure books, too, as well as one or two of the Time Machine series.
It's safe to say that in sixth grade, at the age of 11, I had only a passing idea of what role-playing games were. I'd learned from a neighborhood friend that Dungeons & Dragons was a real game where, unlike the Endless Quest books, you could do anything you wanted to. It wasn't about choosing between two or three pages. You could also play any kind of character you liked. I thought that sounded swell, but I didn't know anyone who played those games. Even my neighborhood friend was barred from playing them due to his mother's strict religious views (our conversations on the topic often took place in whispered confidence away from her prying ears).
I'd picked up the Monster Manual books because they looked really interesting, and because I wanted to know more about the creatures I was "fighting" in the Endless Quest books. I didn't know what any of the stats meant (though I was pretty sure what "Alignment" was all about), but I ate up the fluff and descriptive text like a starving child. I'm pretty sure that at some point I'd bought (or had my mother buy) an actual RPG boxed set (more on this in another entry), but the rules threw my little mind for a loop and I never did anything with it. It didn't help that I had no one to play it with.
Seventh grade pretty much changed everything. My best friend's older brother was a "real" gamer - none of that juvenile Endless Quest stuff for him. He played strategy games (I recall his stack of Avalon Hill bookcase games) and RPGs, and as a result, so did my new best friend. I would go to my friend's house and we'd end up begging his older brother to run something for us. Oftentimes, he'd have a game scheduled with friends and invite us to join in. That's where Revised Recon came into the picture.
After that first game, I was hooked for life. It opened the doors to other games, including AD&D, The Morrow Project, Kill the Commie Bastards, and Palladium's Robotech RPG. I really miss the fresh naivete of those days sometimes, because as time has passed and I've become exposed to more and more games, those old ones offer little more than nostalgia. I don't think I'd ever run a Revised Recon game today, mostly because the system mechanics are so archaic.