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Tripping down Memory Lane...
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TOPIC: Tripping down Memory Lane...
#5458
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 10 Months ago  
There was some nostalgia talk about Hero Quest and Warhammer Quest in the Map-maker section, which reminded me about this lengthy piece I have written.

Some time ago I found a thread on The Miniatures Page while ego surfing. The thread concerned various SF game systems, and one of the games was Mutant Chronicles. Someone had made a certain claim and backed it by saying he had the information from me, so I wrote a comment to clarify the matter. And this is it, somewhat edited...

----

In the beginning there was an SF roleplaying game from TSR - post-apocalyptic stuff - called Gamma World.

One day in the early 80's the boss of Target Games in Stockholm asked freelancer Michael Peterzen if he could do a rip-off of that game, but move the setting to Sweden and Scandinavia, and thus the original Mutant RPG was born.

A couple of years later, when I had started work as an editor and translator at Target Games we revamped Mutant from the Mad Max setting with mutated talking animals and robots of the 25th century to a big corporation/cyberpunk/end of the 21st century civilization, which would eventually fall and devolve into the previous version. The second edition of the game was much darker and was to become one of the design starting points for Mutant Chronicles. The other one was the world of Kult, the horror RPG produced at about the same time, written by the same Michael Peterzen and his wife Gunilla Jonsson. Kult provided part of the background and inspiration for the Dark Legion.

The third leg, and the real kick-off, came when an American game company asked the boss at Target Games at an industry fair in New York if Target could produce a rip-off of Space Crusade, or actually "something in a similar vein" (he used nice words, although I'm not quoting directly). My boss replied that we could have something ready in just two weeks - a playtest version, at least, and an outline of the proposed setting.

Back home work started immediately, using actual Space Crusade games for the test game pieces. The first version of the rules came into existence in just two weeks, as promised, but it would take two full years before the actual game was published.

The idea of doing "a similar game" came because Games Workshop did not have any plans for introducing Space Crusade in the US for some time, as they were busy with HeroQuest (by way of Milton Bradley), and the American company (was it Hasbro?) thought they had an opportunity to beat GW in that segment.

In order to show that there was a setting already published, the RPG Mutant RYMD was slapped togheter in no time (and thankfully buried as quickly...). Mutant RYMD (Swedish for Mutant SPACE) segued into the world of the big corporations inspired by second edition Mutant.

In order to remove the board game and the setting as much as possible from the GW environment, the Space Marine chapters of Space Crusade became the five Corporations, and Chaos become the Dark Legion. The reason for having five major corporations was a consequence of having three SM chapters in SC. How did that happen? SC was a game for four players. The order was for a game for five players, and we quickly found that it was boring to play the bad guys in every game throughout a campaign. So each player got his own corporation, and instead took turns playing the Legion. Any game points gained as the Legion player were transferred to that player's corporation - thus, the five megacorporations were born, each one using easily detected cultural traits of all of the projected markets....

The true Mutant Chronicles RPG was published just before Siege of the Citadel, as production of an RPG is a much quicker affair.

Meanwhile I was busy, during my last summer at Target Games (1992), designing - and redesigning over and over again - the Blood Berets board game. There were so many changes in content for the game, that it finally ended up being rather unbalanced, and sort of out of control quality wise. Could have been a better game... Blood Berets is a quite different game from both Siege and the other board game - and I just can't remember the English title of that game!

The design goal of Blood Berets was to try out mechanics for what would eventually become Warzone. Anyone who has played both games will notice the "moving initiative" as one of the key features, and the system for using actions is the same. After half of the production force had to quit in the spring of 1993, due to financial troubles - for about the third time in the company history! - I don't know what really happened with the company. It seemed like they had a great thing going, but fumbled financially due to a pervading shortsightedness, I would say. Target Games always wanted to be like Games Workshop, but without a real understanding of _why_ and _how_ GW has been able to become what it is.

As a closing comment I should mention that another Swedish game company has bought the rights to produce the original Mutant game once more, and they are having a lot of fun and well-deserved success with the game, with lots of old cranky robots and mutated talking animals running around in the deep woods and forbidden zones of bombed out Scandinavia!
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#5459
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
Wow,

Thanks for that bit of a Peek into MC and SC... Kinda Kewl... (Though I Never Played either)...
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#5460
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
Triva, what was the first Sci-Fi role playing game?
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#5461
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
Anyone?
invincibleoverlord
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#5462
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
Depending on how you define Science Fiction...

I would say Empire of the Petal Throne from 1975, but it has a really strong fantasy atmosphere.

If Empire doesn't suit you, how about Metamorphosis Alpha, published by TSR, or possibly Starfaring from Flying Buffalo, both published in 1976?

The two most well-known games would probably be Traveller from 1977 and GammaWorld from 1978, though...

I haven't really played any of the games (unless you count first edition Mutant as a sort of GammaWorld...), but I have actually held a 1st Ed Petal Throne in my hand, as a good friend of mine owns it - i have understood that it is a highly cherished possession... :D
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#5463
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
Close, but before TSR released even “Empire of the Petal Throne� in 1975, which by the way only a true gamming coinsurer would know had a Sci-Fi tie-in. Most just regard it as only a fantasy setting and haven’t delved into the text about the worlds history. Very cool you know that. :)

In 1974 almost simultaneously released along side of the first print D&D box set was a TSR digest size book entitled “Warriors of Mars� based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The small rule book was mostly for miniatures rules (identical to D&D) , but throughout the book there are many references to D&D and role playing as a alternative to regular play. Especially when adventuring below the capital cities sewers.

The powers that governed the Burroughs estate complained of copyright infringement and the book was removed from shelves and destroyed. Only a handful of copies survived. I was lucky and I mean lucky to have acquired one in my years of collecting. They simply don’t change hands.

The first spaceship rules also appeared in 1975 in the form of another TSR digest size book entitled “Star Probe�, and was followed up in 76 with “Star Empires� more geared towards role-play.

I found a pic on the net-



I know I’m a GEEK :P , I just love the history of the game. Here’s a pic of our painting station as it is now, at the current location. Warriors and Star Probe are on the bottom shelf to the left next to the Gamma World miniature boxes.

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#5464
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
But is it a bona fide _roleplaying_ game? If it makes _references_ to D&D and suggests you should use that game for the roleplaying part I would say it is not an RPG. Does it allow you to roleplay even if you don't have the rules for D&D? If it does, then I can accept it as an RPG!

Well, what are you waiting for? Convince me! :D

PS. Aren't we _all_ geeks? ;)
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#5465
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
Willypold,

Well... I have Never actually Bitten the Head off of a Live Chicken, (That I Know of...Hgmmm), But I suppose I Share some of the traits often Depicted in the more Popular, and contemporary Lexicon... (Such as bothering to Argue a Point like this...<Chuckle>...)

I Never Owned any of the "Original" Paperback D&D Supplements to Chainmail, but I did Buy the "Collectors" white Boxed set of the Reprinted first three Pamphlets, which came out about the same time as the first "Basic" set I think... (Around 79 or 80?)... Though up until then I had only played in the AD&D Setting, but did not own any of those books until 81-82... Anyway, the reason I mention it, was that I remember the frequent references to the Chainmail rules for all things dealing with Miniatures Combat, which seems reminicient of what IO had been talking about...? (A lot of cross reference between Books, Which interestingly remains today even in the 3.5 Stuff, at least as far as the Core Books go)...

Sure would like to own that little "White Box" set today...<Sigh>... or some of the other Kewl "Pamphlet" add ons that were available here and there...
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#5466
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
willypold wrote:

But is it a bona fide _roleplaying_ game? If it makes _references_ to D&D and suggests you should use that game for the roleplaying part I would say it is not an RPG. Does it allow you to roleplay even if you don't have the rules for D&D? If it does, then I can accept it as an RPG!

Well, what are you waiting for? Convince me!


Good question, well, first we have to define what and where role-playing came from. There are two schools of thought about this. The first and most common thinking is that role-playing came from the “Avalon Hill� game “Diplomacy� where players each rule a pre-WWI European country and “role-play� (discuss) treaties and deals until this eventually ends up in all out battle of alliances and broken treaties (lots of intrigue is encouraged). The second school of thought is that role-playing simply evolved from the large-scale table-top miniature-wargame’s like the ones at the first Gen Con’s. According to early Gen Con attendees some “role-played� commanders of the armies shouting out commands in old-English accents.

But no matter what your thinking is about this “role-playing� is just that “a role�, taking on the persona of an individual and just like the first D&D box-set to even D&D today, it only encourages role-playing it is not necessary for play.

So with that thinking “Warriors of Mars� as stated on the cover “Rules for individual and large-scale land and aerial conflict� encourages “role-playing�. According to Egg (Gygax), those early days were a hodge-podge of limited printed material and homemade rules. “Role-playing� spawned from all kinds of different games�. It’s just a natural extension of an individual’s statistics on paper, “give it a persona�. “Warriors� is little known about; again do to its quick removal from the market, but according to gaming aficionados is considered the first sci-fi role-playing game.

Quick side note: did you know that in the first D&D box-set there was such a lack of rules that it is required for you to also purchase Avalon Hill’s game “Outdoor Survival a game of wilderness skills� which was the inspiration for outdoor exploration. What’s also funny is how much the board for the game resembles early Gray Hawk maps hex grid and all.

Here’s a pic



PS. Aren't we _all_ geeks?

That’s two of us who admit it, anyone else???? :P :)
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#5467
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
That’s me as the guest, the idiot who keeps forgetting to sign in.

Again why are guests still allowed to post on the forum, aren’t we afraid of another spam attack anyway?
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#5468
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
IO,

Do you have a Pic of that First D&D Boxed Set? The One I had was White, Said "Collectors Edition" or something similar, and had Brown Inked Text and a Very Simple Image of A Goblin or Kobald or some such with an Axe like Polearm coming out of a Door... (Or maybe a Cave?)... Geesh it's really been a long time... You had to Buy Dice separately I Know that...
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#5469
Tripping down Memory Lane... 9 Years, 9 Months ago  
You really shouldn't start me on a discussion about definitions... Now you are duly warned... :D

As I'm heavily involved in the disccussions about what is and what is not live roleplaying, I have some definite ideas about requirements when you want to define something as either this or that. I know that the distinction between what is what in some of the early games were a little blurred, but let's see if we can come to an agreement on this!

There are two terms I would like to use: conflict simulation (CS) and roleplaying (RP).

Both types share a lot of characteristics, but the important difference is that a CS game is played out between a number of players, while an RP game is led by a storyteller, the DM, who is unwinding a story together with the players.

Don't confuse the story teller with a game master in a CS game. The task of the CS game master is to coordinate the action between the players, not initiate anything, his purpose is often to act out the missing element of not knowing where the enemy is, or simply keeping the score. A CS game master doesn't turn a CS game into an RP game. He is not a story teller.

These are the beginnings of the critera I would use in defining a game as either CS or RP. Once again, are there rules for actual roleplaying in Warriors of Mars? Is the purpose of the game to simulate a conflict or does it have the storytelling element as the main, or even a secondary, idea? Even if it suggests using the setting as a basis for roleplaying, it is not automatically an RP game.

PS. About the geekiness: Gamers are automatically geeks, because we read a lot. And we read heavy stuff far beyond the sports pages (although this should not be construed as a slur against people who _also_ read the sports pages...). Would you like to trade away your geek status if it also meant clearing out your gaming room? ;)
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