It was twenty years ago and a Wednesday..
It was the day that Prince Andrew wed Sarah Ferguson.
The crowds in London were out in force and I was a young lad of 14 battling my way through with another destionation in mind.
Today, twenty years ago, was the first day of Dragonaid. A charity world-record breaking event aiming to raise money for the famine in Africa whilst trying to break/set the world record for non-stop roleplaying.
Two groups were competing with, if I recall correctly, between 10-12 players in each. The rules were simple. The players were allowed a five minute break for each full hour they played and were not allowed any direct communication outside of the group they were playing with. They could pass notes to the many assistants lurking round the table asking for food, drink, headache pills, etc, but that was it. Each group had a back-up GM incase the first GM retired due to exhaustion and would carry on playing until they only had 4 or less team members remaining.
They were playing D&D games and the venue included a little trade area which TSR supported as well as a little space for visitors and other people to play the odd game or two. The local TV and radio stations also came down to cover the event - which had some amusing consequences when they asked one of the teams if they had anyone related to royalty (asa topical question due to the royal wedding going on upstairs around us) and one of the players announcing he was actually Duke suchandsuch and chatting away about it (he was actually playing a character which was a Duke :p).
I was too young to actually play in the game but I helped out as one of the assistant runners - taking notes from the tables to the kitchen or medics with their requests and hurrying back again with the much needed suppliers. (Although I did participate in DragonAids follow-up event two years later - Dragonlance-a-lot - which raised money for Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital by playing in a 50-hour non-stop Dragonlance game).
I met a number of people for the first time at Dragonaid - including James Wallis who was at the time editor of a fanzine called 'Sound & Fury' if I'm not mistaken (or was it called 'Ivory Tower'?) who was one of the players in the game. I also played my first ever game of Talisman which James ran for me and a bunch of others after he'd retired from the record-attempt and had some much needed sleep :)
Later in the week was another major point in my life - but I'll post about that when we get to that anniversary day...
I don't know how much money Dragonaid eventually raised but one of the teams managed to play for about 84-86 hours non-stop before collapsing.