My first role-playing game was the German RPG Das Schwarze Auge (DSA). It came out in 1984 and it was the first RPG translated into Dutch. At first I played only now-and-then, but later, after moving, I formed a group and we played any time we could – sometimes daily.
Then, in 1989, while visiting the American Book Centre (a well-known store selling American English-language books) I found the AD&D 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide. I bought them, together with an issue of Dungeon Magazine, and went home to read the rules.
I didn’t understand them. Because of my familiarity with DSA I couldn’t wrap my head around some of the differences between the games. For example, DSA uses the term hit points for how much damage a character does, and mages start with 20 life points, not 1d4. Also, AD&D is more of a dungeon exploration game (even though the 2E books told me otherwise), and I didn’t understand open doors rolls and saving throws. The 2nd Edition books just weren’t very good at teaching the game.
Lucky for me, by that time the Dutch translation of the Menzer Basic Set was out. I bought it, read it, and played it. I quickly hunted down all translated adventure modules: In Search of the Unknown, The Keep on the Borderlands, Horror on the Hill, Rahasia, and the solo module Blizzard Pass.
Unfortunately, no more boxed sets and adventures where translated into Dutch after that. We played the available adventures, and after that I started an AD&D campaign.
So that’s how I started playing D&D: first Das Schwarze Auge, then the Mentzer red box because the 2nd Edition books were not good at teaching the game.