The kids who responded to my comic shop ad were cats I knew from school, Leon and John. John was a pothead who drifted around wherever Leon went. Leon was a heavy metal kid who t-shirts with dragons on them and talked about the Ren Fair a lot. To them I added my friend Adrian, who I stayed in a group with until we both stopped playing altogether.
Leon and John stopped playing when Leon got a regular job. Adrian and I pulled Comstock back into the fold and the three of us played for awhile. My third group was the two of them, plus Eddie and Bug Boy. Eddie was a new kid at school and the biggest social misfit I'd ever seen. He was overweight and had a bizarre baby talk kind of lisp Adrian and I imitate to this day. He once told a girl he liked that if she were a D&D character, she would have a Charisma of 16. We picked on Ed a lot and hit him on the head with empty two-liter bottles. He wore sandals, even in the winter, and the big toe on his right foot was enormous. When we talked about Ed we mentioned his Big Toe as if it were a separate being. It was.
Bug Boy I knew from sight. He was a year younger than me and had ridden my bus since he was in kindergarten, but I'd never paid him much mind except to notice that his glasses were bigger than his face. And he had a weak chin. And he wore hooded sweatshirts all the time. And his brother drove a van. But other than that, I ignored him. He was a quiet kid, and he was only around because Ed was around.
Ed's parents didn't know he played D&D. They were religious, more religious than the average bear, and Ed told them that when we convened in my parents' dining room we played cards for hours and hours. But God was plotting against young Eddie and his parents found his D&D books one day. They questioned Ed and he broke like a puppy under the tires of a dump truck. I don't know what he told them exactly, but his parents called mine on Friday night to inform them that I was the leader of a black magick cult and that I was bewitching their little boy and their little boy's friend and leading them into a life of devilry and wickedness.
I was out with Adrian and some other friends at the time, being unsuccessfully set up with a girl who came to be known in our mythology as Lockjaw. When I got home my folks told me Eddie's parents had called several times, at first to inform them of my wicked ways, and when my parents blew them off, to accuse them of bad parenting. My folks were annoyed more with the repeated calls than by the accusations themselves. At that point I don't think they wanted to be bothered with parenting minutiae like other people's angry parents. When I wrecked my car a few years later, I'm fairly certain my dad was more upset with the inconvenience of leaving the house after midnight than by the fact that my bumper was screwed up.
Our D&D game the following week was again down to Adrian, Comstock and myself. It remained the three of us through the rest of my sophomore year. I saw Ed and Bug Boy in the halls at school after that, and sometimes I would shout hellos to them the way we used to when they showed up for a game. But they never said anything in return, or even made eye contact. Maybe they were fearful of retribution, or just embarrassed over what happened, but no one was mad at them. But we didn't especially miss them, either. We just wanted to keep playing. Comstock left for college over the summer, and the group fell apart again.