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.