Welcome, and well met!

I'm a fan of pen-and-paper RPG's. That's what you are going to find on this site. Sometimes there might be a blurb about the Secret World MMO; but the focus here is my drifting through Wisconsin's gaming communities.

Links will be added as cons are visited, games are played, and authoring is published.

Wander around. Grab a tankard. Relax and immerse yourself into polyhedron geekness, Wisconsin style!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Part II of the First Era!

Part II:
New companies and new creative directions came to the RPG world in this second half of the Era.

The Boot Hill game system was released in 1975. It was more focused upon gunfights than roll play. The En Garde! system was also released this year by Game Designers’ Workshop; focusing on dueling in 17th century France. Also published by TSR this year was the game The Empire of the Petal Throne (based upon Tekumel’s science fantasy world). Flying Buffalo publishing released Tunnels & Trolls which looked at a fantasy setting as “somewhat but not exactly similar to Tokien’s Middle Earth…as it would have been done by Marvel Comics with Conan, Elric, the Gray Mouser and a host of badguys thrown in.” Fantasy Games Umlimited opened its doors as a publishing house.

Arneston and Megarry left TSR in 1976 due to creative differences. Also in that year, the science-fantasy Metamorphosis Alpha was released. The first edition was effectively a dungeon crawl in space, where the characters awaken to find them aboard a drifting star ship filled with mutants and robots. Starfaring was released by Flying Buffalo, being considered the first-ever science-fiction roleplaying game.

In 1977, TSR came out with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Feeling that this version differed from Arneson’s version, no royalties were paid. The resulting lawsuit was somewhat resolved in 1981, with Arneson gaining co-creation credits on all D&D products. En Garde! 2.0 was released this year as well. The Fantasy Trip was released by Metagaming Concepts. Traveller was released by GDW, with character creation completed by a ‘mini-game’ of dice rolls where the player takes the character along a ‘life path’ series of charts. Upon completing this mini-game, the character is then considered to be at the age / training of where the game itself begins. Chivalry & Sorcery 1e by Fantasy Games Unlimited Tyr Gamemakers release Space Quest Digest.

Gamma World was released by TSR in 1978. It is the intellectual successor of Metamorphosis Alpha. Also in that year, Grimoire Games published Arduin, written by David Hargrave. Also, RuneQuest was published by Chaosium, set in the mythical world of Glorantha. Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier was produced by Heritage Models.

In 1979, the 5th edition of Tunnels and Trolls was released both nationally and internationally.  The world of Glorantha came into its own this year, becoming something of a separate ‘umbrella’ entity over the RuneQuest universe. The Bushido RPG was released by Tyr Gamemakers, and Space Quest 2e is released. At this time, the world of Greyhawk had been a home campaign since 1972.

Next, Era II…

Monday, January 20, 2014

Going Back to the Start: RPGs Timeline Part I

Era I: A Time of War!

In 1971, the game Chainmail was published by Gary Gygax and his game shop contact Jeff Perren. These rules were expansions of the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA). The members of that club were Gary Gygax, Terry Kuntz, Rob Kuntz, Ernie Gygax, Jeff Perren, Mike Reese, Leon Tucker, and Don Kaye.

The Chainmail game system was influenced by the works of Tolken, with Dungeons & Dragons serving as a variant to the core system. Although not the first foray into fantasy battles, as Gygax had earlier worked with Guidon Games in the development of Chainmail and associated supplements. However, Guidon Games did not see potential in D&D, prompting Gygax to found Tactical Studies Rules (TSR).

Also in 1971, game designer Dave Arneson was independently creating a fantasy-styled game system, after becoming frustrated with the rigid rule set in his Napoleonic wargame. Out of this came the ‘campaign setting’ called Blackmoor, which included character development and a dungeon crawl.

In 1972, David Megarry had designed the board game Dungeon!, and had also game mastered Gary Gygax through Arneson’s Blackmoor game. Gygax then created a variant titled Greyhawk and collaborated with Arneson’s game rules. During that time, attempts to publish these games were rejected by both Avalon Hill and Guidon Games. In Arizona, Flying Buffalo Inc. was formed by Rick Loomis and Steve MacGregor. This year, the city of Greyhawk was created by Gygax for characters to sell their stuff. Trivia: not having time to create a whole new world, Greyhawk is situated on a modified US map, roughly where the city of Chicago presides.

Back at Guidon Games, Don and Julie Lowry, Lou Zocci, Tom Wham, and Mike Carr relocated to Belfast, Maine in 1972. Don and Julie focused on the wargame industry, while the others diversified. Lou Zocci embraced the study of dice making and opened Game Science, with its strongest focus upon the manufacturing of balanced gaming dice. Tom Wham focused both in illustration and board game designs. Mike Carr moved from working on various wargames, then moved to TSR in 1976 until 1983. He then trained under Richard Dennis as a futures trader, and is now writing about freelance snowmobiling.

In the summer of 1973, Gary Gygax and Don Kaye had TSR up and running, and were then joined by Brian Blume. This was organized to enable the publishing of Dungeon & Dragons. Brian Blume fronted the money to publish the origional Dungeons & Dragons set in 1974. After selling out that year, further rules and the Blackmoor supplement were published in 1975.

Also in 1974, Metagaming Concepts came into being along with Games Workshop and Chaosium. These new game companies joined the ranks of Games Design Workshop and Simulations Publications Inc.

...more to come soon!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year and New Directions

Greetings one and all!

Have a seat. Grab that tankard and ready yourself for a tale of the past and present. The sputtering flames of the new year face off with the frigid remains of the elder, giving me pause to think about the state of pen and paper RPGs.

This is not a rant, nor is it a harbinger of doom. This is a reflection.

With that being said, I shall begin among the embers of the somewhat distant past. Still shimmering in the mists of 2011 and 2012 are game systems that bear discussion, as they are award winners and industry trend waypoints.

In 2011, awards were given to RPG system core books such as Arcanis (Origins Award winner), The Dresden Files (ENnie Award winner), Fiasco (Diana Jones Award winner), DO: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple (Indie RPG Award winner), Dominant Species -and- Apocalypse World (Golden Geek RPG Award winner).

In 2012, award were given to the core book systems of Savage Worlds Deluxe -and- Marvel Heroes (ENnie), Burning Wheel Gold (Diana Jones nominee), and Dungeon World (both the Indie RPG -and- Golden Geek RPG awards).

Why bring these up?

Simple: They won because the industry watchdogs found that they were good. Sure, we all love the pulp stuff. We all love that old one (or two or three) favorites that are on the bookshelf. But these are what  folks consider to be the quality stuff for our hobby.

On my next post, I'm going to summarize each of the game systems, reflect upon the opinions of various sites (RPG.net, Board Game Geek, etc.), and see where they stand in the dawn light of 2014.

-Black n Blue  Knight