|D&D Basic Set box cover art|
It was a major epiphany for me to play this game - it was like nothing else. No board, no pieces - just paper, pencils, and maps (that you might not be able to look at). You played a character in a fantasy setting - which was already kind of out there for me. I hadn't really read any fantasy at that time, and about all I could relate it to was The Hobbit animated film I had seen around Thanksgiving back in 1977.
Speaking of art - dig that picture on the box cover to the Basic D&D Set, which included a rulebook and The Keep on the Borderlands adventure module. That's Erol Otus - one of the signature artists that defined the look of the game in the late 70s/early 80s.
The game itself sometimes had a pulp fantasy feel to it (at least what I recognize as such in hindsight) - and it felt great. Time to pick up some dice soon, and kick off some new campaigns and revisit some old ones.