Fall of 1984 was also the year I enrolled as a freshman at the university (after some gruelling entry exams to get into the School of Engineering, oh, the memories of that event ;-)), so it meant I was ready for new things, and that meant fantasy roleplaying! It happened that that year, a Dutch FRP game was published, “Oog Des Meesters”, a translation from the German “Das Schwarze Auge”. D&D at the time was something I had heard about, but never had seen myself, so a Dutch roleplaying game was definitely a big sensation for my club of gaming friends.
During my years at the university I mostly played fantasy, not only roleplaying, but also miniature fantasy battles. By 1987 or so, GW had published their 3rd edition of Warhammer, and it was this version we were most addicted to. Warhammer 40K also was published during that period, and I slowly but surely was turning into a GW fanboy. I also bought my first blister pack of miniatures then, “Undead Orcs” from Grenadiers (I bought them in Rudi Geudens’ shop). Those 3 skeletal Orcs are still part of my undead miniature army, and occupy a base of 4 figures, the 4th figure being a skeleton painted by Bart Vetters, which he donated to me because he “wasn’t into fantasy”.
In 1988 I met a couple of other gaming addicts in Leuven, which meant even more gaming! We quickly formed a gaming group, and the core of this group basically is still the same group of people I play many games with today. Anyway, I was much impressed by these guys, because they actually went to London to buy GW stuff! So quickly, I joined them on shopping sprees towards London, leaving with a small backpack, and returning with a kitbbag full of orders for the home crowd. This might look pretty silly now, but apart from the “Tin Soldier” in Sint-Niklaas (run by renowned veteran wargamer Rudi Geudens, Hi Rudi!, full story of the shop and a piece of Belgian wargaming history here), there wasn’t really any gaming shop known to us, and London was the place to be to get all the newest roleplaying games, miniatures, accessories, etc.
That same year (1988), there was also a (first?) fantasy gaming convention run in Antwerp by Peter T’Sas, who was then just starting his shop in Antwerp “The Lonely Mountain”. It was memorable for another reason, because at that convention, “Schimmen & Schaduwen”, another Dutch roleplaying game, was first presented to the public. I wasn’t involved in the development of S&S at that point, but three Leuven gamers were, under the name of “The Wise Tree”. S&S was very much inspired by Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, but since it was the first effort in Belgium for a Dutch FRP after OdM, it created a bit of a stir.
In any case, those were exciting times for me. I still don’t know whether it was because gaming started to grow big in Belgium, and we were in the middle of it and experiencing it all, or whether gaming had been there all along, and we were just discovering it.