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, March 29, 2014

Era II: Part 7; TECH, TECH, fantasy, TECH…

Things I Missed:
1977: Melee by  Metagaming.
1980: Dragonquest by SPI. Box set that included a map and die-cut countersheets.
1980, 1981, and 1987: Top Secret / S.I. by  TSR.
1984: Lords of Creation by Avalon Hill.
1985: Skyrealms of jorune by SkyRealms Publishing.
1985: The Arcanum by Bard Games.
1986: HarnMaster by Columbia Games.

The ripple of electronic games begin growing. For instance, Cosmic Soldier: Psychic War in 1987 featured a non-linear conversation system, where the player can recruit allies by talking to them, choose whether to kill or spare an enemy, and engage enemies in conversation, similar to Megami Tensei. One of the first action RPGs to feature multiple endings was Konami's 1987 release Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, which introduced a day-night cycle that affects when certain NPCs appear in certain locations and offered three possible endings depending on the time it took to complete the game. An important influence on the genre was the 1986 action-adventure, The Legend of Zelda. It had many features in common with RPGs and served as the template for future action RPGs. In 1987, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link implemented an RPG-esque system, including experience points and levels, with action game elements, making it closer to an action RPG than other Zelda games. Lucasfilm's graphical MUD Habitat ran from 1986 to 1988, after which it was closed down at the end of the pilot run. A graphical MUD is a MUD that uses computer graphics to represent parts of the virtual world and its visitors. In 1988, MUD concepts evolve into IRC, via Jarkko Oikarinen.
During this time, the next level of online chat systems are born. 1988 saw the debut of Telenet Japan's Exile, a series of action-platform RPGs, beginning with XZR: Idols of Apostate. The series was controversial for its plot, which revolves around a time-traveling Crusades-era Syrian Islamic Assassin who assassinates various religious/historical figures as well as modern-day political leaders, with similarities to the present-day Assassin's Creed action game series. A sized-down incarnation but with vastly improved graphics (avatars became equipped with facial expressions, for example) was launched for general release as Club Caribe on Quantum Link in January 1988.

Traveller 2300 AD is released by Game Designers Workshop; this offering of the Traveller: 2300 game had nothing to do with the Traveller RPG, rather, it was an extension of the Twilight 2000 game, bringing that post-apocalyptic world out to space with FTL tech. The 'Traveller' was removed in later editions.
Cyberpunk 2013, R. Talsorian Games. A boxed set and second edition to the game.
SpaceTime, is published by BTRC. This is a post WWIII cyberpunk world using a point-based skill system. Also by BTRC is Macho Women with Guns. Set in the ‘machoverse’ where Satan’s Batwinged Bimbows from Hell do battle with the Vatican’s Sisters of Our Lady of Harley-Davidson.
Space 1889, by Game Designers Workshop. A steampunk world where discredited Victorian scientific theories are true. Inner planetary travel is made possible by Edison’s”ether propeller”, etc.
The Dark Eye / Het Oog des Meesters published by Schmidt Spiele. This advanced ruleset of the first edition is written for advanced leveled characters and included the new world of Tharun, found within Ethra.
Stormbringer 3e by Games Workshop. It is similar to the previous editions.

Back in the real world, the Winter Olympics are held in Calgary. Summer Olympics are held in Seoul.  Who Framed Roger Rabbit is released. Greyhawk experiences a revival, after Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms have hit their stride. Jim Ward received over 500 fan suggestions for the revival. From this input, he presented the ideas to TSR, and Greyhawk Adventures was the response.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Era II: Part 6; Re-seeding and New Shoots for 1986-1987

Another blooming period in this part of our tale, filled with new ideas and re-hashing ‘old’ favorites as new editions. In the previous year, Frank Mentzer worked closely with Gary Gygax, who formed New Infinities Productions, Inc. to create new products. Milton Bradley Co was bought out by Hasbro in 1984. Side note: Tri Tac Games produced a number of works in the 80’s. Fringeworthy 1984, Bureau 13 1984 and FTL:2448 by in 1985.
From this point on, I’m going to do my best to discuss the electronic element of RPGs. I might mention an MMO or two, but that begins to head into a territory that is less free-form and more mechanic-based than what lies at the heart of this evolving history lesson: Tabletop RPG gaming. Right off, MUDs have been around since the mid-70’s, and play-by-email begins to catch on around this time frame. Blacksburg Tactical Research Center publishing company opens its doors.

Malefices 2e by Jeux Descartes revised the introductory game of 1985. This is a game set during the Third Republic of France in the late 19th century; where reason and science confronts pagan superstition and witchcraft.
HeroQuest, bluring the lines between RPG and board games were produced. Osprey Publishing, founded from the Brooke Bond Tea Company in the 1960s reaches (and maintains) its peak, with over 30 employees and publishing at least ten books each month.
Mafia, the predecessor of Werewolf party game is cemented after a couple of years of work by Dimitry Davidoff.
D&D 2e is released by TSR. TSR opts to remove references to demons, devils, and other such ‘potentially controversial supernatural monsters’ from this edition; only to return in the late 1990’s.
TWERPS is released by Reindeer Games, a minimalistic rule system with Strength as its only stat.
Mega Traveller is published by GDW and designed by Digest Group Publications. This used a revision of the Classic Traveller and is set in the Rebellion era, when the Imperioum was shattered into political factions.
Atlas Games - Collectible card games, card games, and role-playing games, with Lunch Money tying to win the Origins Award for best card game.

1986 becomes 1987 with Iran-Contra, Regan, and the Unibomber. The UN designates the International Year of Peace.

Cyborg Commando, New Infinities Inc. based upon a concept by Gary Gygax, set in 2035 when the earth is invaded by Xenoborgs intent on subduing humanity.
Talislanta by Bard Games offered an alternative to the worlds of D&D. It operated with a simpler game mechanic; eventually becoming the Omni System. Also by Bard Games was the Atlantean Trilogy  (1984 Bard Games, 1985 Bard Games, 1995 Death’s Edge Games). This setting was a pre-sunk Atlantas of 10000-12000 BCE.
Warhammer Fantasy Battle is released by Games Workshop in its third edition. Warhammer 40,000 first release occurs this year as well.
Mekton II is published by R. Talsorian Games using the Interlock System. This system is unique in that it was the first to fully embrace desktop publishing.
Teenagers from Outer Space by R. Talsorian Games, set in a comedic, sci-fi setting.
Timelords published by BTRC , not to be confused by the Time Lord (Dr Who) RPG. The game begins at the end of time, with a psychic race developing reverse-time travel to survive the end.
Stormbringer by Chaosium in its third edition.
Star Wars, by West End Games using the d6 system. This series (a run that produced 140 sourcebooks and adventures) is considered authoritative reference material by many of the film series fans, including Lucasfilm.
Paranoia 2e, the computer is STILL watching all the shiny, happy citizens! Published by West End Games.
Beyond the Supternatural and Ninjas and Superspies, by  Palladium Books each of which are set in the current (1987) era. BtS is a ‘everyman’ verses the supernatural game, and N&S is exactly what it says on the can. Ninjas. Superspies.
Lion Rampant games opens their doors in 1987, introducing Ars Magica. This d10 system introduces the Troupe System, where all players may take the mantle of Story Guide (DM), and where all players (usually) control multiple characters of various power levels. Medieval Latin is commonly used for key terms throughout the game.
Shadow World by ICE, which is a high-fantasy RPG set in the world of Kulthea. This is a techno-mystical environment where countless cultures of widely varying levels of development have risen and fallen. The result is a hodge-podge of communities ranging from primitive to steampunk-esque.
Tracy Hickman publishes the essay, “Ethics in Fantasy: Morality and D&D / Part 1: That Evil Game!” This work addresses a number of concerns about ethics and notes issues in communication between gamers and non-gamers. Final Fantasy and Mega Man are released.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HOOKS!

Yesterday was a GOOD MONDAY.

Yep, a good Monday. The quicksilver crept up to the mid-50's, the sun was blazing all day long, I ate a lot of 'frogs' around the house, and was rewarded with a delivery of...

HOOKS at Atlas Games!

Yep, my first ever published work. It's crazy to recall how I got to this point. Two years ago, I was a fan of the game who happened upon an open call for new authors in the Ars Magica 5 world. I took a couple of ideas and shot them out to the line editor David Chart. After a complete overhaul of one concept, then two playtest / feedback sessions, followed by artwork suggestions, introduction page write-up, and author bio; the collaborators and I had to come up with concepts for the cover art.

Done and done.

So now I am a published author. Time for the rubber to start smacking that road!

-Dave

Monday, March 3, 2014

Era II: Part V: In the Heart of the Maze

After the previous years explosion in the RPG market, things settled. The following two years become a slow-down in the publication of new games. Gary Gygax attempted to remove Williams from the management of TSR, with the plan to insert his future wife Gail Carpenter into the position. He was advised against the move and eventually sold his remaining stocks to Williams, giving her full control of TSR by 1986.
R. Talsorian Games is officially founded, utilizing desktop publishing.
Stormbringer by Chaosium using the Basic Role-playing system. This game is based on the adventures of Elic in the series written by Michael Moorcock. Hawkmoon, Chaosium, using the Basic Roleplaying system. A popular game in France, this adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s Dorian Hawkmoon series.
Swordbearer by Fantasy Games and introduced a number of new concept for the time. This was a classless system, encumbrance is simplified, magic ‘nodes’ (using a set number of elemental ‘nodes’ to enable a spell to be cast), and combat initiative is determined by skill. This is a re-release of the Heritage Game of 1982.
Pendragon, Chaosium, part of the Glorantha world that found some fandom in 1984. This first edition was published in a box set and used the Basie Role-playing system.
DC Heroes by Mayfair Games and introduced the Mayfair Exponential Game System (MEGS), used for exponential measurement of nearly every aspect of a game environment.
Games Workshop ceased distributing its products in the USA through Hobby Games Distributors and opened its Games Workshop (US) office. Games Workshop (US), and Games Workshop in general, went through a large growth phase in the late '80s, listing over 250 employees on the payroll by 1990. Judge Dredd RPG by Games Workshop and used a custom system based loosely on GW’s Warhammer Fantasy.
Heroes Unlimited RPG by Palladium Books, this was published in 1984, but I missed it (and so I’m putting it right here.) The Mechanoid Invasion.as a revised edition by Palladium Books. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness by Palladium Books. In this year, Palladium’s Valley of the Pharaohs run was ending, although it used a rule set outside of the standard Megaversal System.
Sandman RPG by Pacesetter Ltd. This is a play-out-of-the-box game; where the players awaken on the Orient Express and begin one of four adventures. Although other ‘instant adventures’ were planned, Pacesetter Ltd closed its doors before they were published.

In 1986, the UN designated the International Year of Peace, Geraldo Rivera opens Al Capone’s secret vault, and Pixar opens its doors. Greyhawk slows down, Forgotten Realms rises, after Gygax is no longer affiliated with TSR. With Gygax’s exodus from TSR, the company continued to create Greyhawk products, but at a much different focus. The plan to produce the planet was retooled to allow various authors to write up unexplored areas of the lands. Forgotten Realms Ed Greenwood sent his (literal) boxes of FR campaign setting to TSR for official publication, with Jeff Grubb serving as co-author.
Robotech RPG by Palladium Books. Revised RECON is released by Palladium Books, using the Recon RPG released between 1981-1984 as the core, if not somewhat more balanced ruleset. After the Bomb by Palladium Books, using the Megaversal system. This features mutant animals as characters and is set in Palladiums Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle universe.
MechWarrior RPG based upon the Battle Tech video games and published by FASA Corp. set in a universe of giant Mecha vehicles.
Traveller: 2300 AD, Game Designers Workshop and offered up as an alternative to the Traveller game.
Ghostbusters RPG by West End Games box set game. This is a d6 system and also an Origins Awards winner.
GURPS, Steve Jackson Games is first produced in both its first and second editions.
Warhammer Fantasy Rollplay, Games Workshop and is based on the Fantasy Battle wargame rule set.
Rolemaster  second edition coagulates during this year in the publication of the Companion II book, which included additional other ‘companion’ books through the year of 1988. AUTHOR NOTE: 1995 was the release of the Rolemaster Standard System (RMSS), or Rolemaster 3e.
…and with the election of a new president, along with the debut of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on KTMA, the year draws to a close.