This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
The message boards have been upgraded. Please log in to your existing account by clicking here. It will ask twice, so that it can properly update your password and login information. If it has trouble recognizing your password, click the 'Forgot your password?' link to reset it with a new password sent to your email address on file.

Author Topic: Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?  (Read 4266 times)

Tiocfaidh ár lá

  • Newbie
  • *
  • T
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #75 on: July 26, 2017, 10:29:28 PM »
I have never strictly played D&D in any of its iterations.  We started at university in England with Empire of the Petal Throne in 1975.  Mostly one shots and perhaps because of the nature of Tekumel very rarely in dungeons.  The gorgeous maps that came with the boxed set lured us outside.  If we wanted dungeons we played the original board game version of Dungeon.  The war with Yan Kor was just about to start so a good few of the scenarios centered on political intrigue, again something that EPT favoured.
I think the highlight then, and still now, of my love affair with rpgs was writing to Professor Barker and receiving very detailed and courteous replies.  I still have them, the best treasures I ever found in Tekumel.

GameDaddy

  • BANNED
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2931
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #76 on: July 26, 2017, 11:13:01 PM »
Quote from: Tiocfaidh ár lá;978571
I have never strictly played D&D in any of its iterations.  We started at university in England with Empire of the Petal Throne in 1975.  Mostly one shots and perhaps because of the nature of Tekumel very rarely in dungeons.  The gorgeous maps that came with the boxed set lured us outside.  If we wanted dungeons we played the original board game version of Dungeon.  The war with Yan Kor was just about to start so a good few of the scenarios centered on political intrigue, again something that EPT favoured.
I think the highlight then, and still now, of my love affair with rpgs was writing to Professor Barker and receiving very detailed and courteous replies.  I still have them, the best treasures I ever found in Tekumel.


Welcome to RPGSite! Even though I played D&D from 1977 on, it would be 1993-1994 before I first had an opportunity to play in an EPT game, ...mostly because it was very difficult to find a copy of the boxed set, and even more difficult to find a GM willing to run a game. The last few years I have had a very good run of games set in Tekumel, This was after Lou Zocchi sold me a copy of Swords & Glory a few years back. Have to say it was one of the best games I played last year, ...sitting in on one of Victor Raymond's games at U-Con last November.
Blackmoor grew from a single Castle to include, first, several adjacent Castles (with the forces of Evil lying just off the edge of the world to an entire Northern Province of the Castle and Crusade Society's Great Kingdom.

~ Dave Arneson

GameDaddy

  • BANNED
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2931
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #77 on: July 28, 2017, 07:11:44 PM »
Bob Bledsaw Jr, Speaks about the Original Judges Guild, The Wilderlands Games, and how the company was formed during a live podcast at North Texas RPGCon this year. ;
http://saveforhalf.com/2017/06/13/episode-4-12-judges-guild-seminar/
Blackmoor grew from a single Castle to include, first, several adjacent Castles (with the forces of Evil lying just off the edge of the world to an entire Northern Province of the Castle and Crusade Society's Great Kingdom.

~ Dave Arneson

Dan Davenport

  • Hardboiled GMshoe
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2512
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #78 on: July 28, 2017, 10:40:24 PM »
I sort of stumbled into RPGs. I got my mom to buy me the AD&D 1e Monster Manual before I even knew that it was for a game. I thought it was just a book of cool monsters with esoteric-sounding stats, like a fantasy version of the Terran Trade Authority spaceship books. I didn't actually start gaming until 1981.

In the days before the Satanic Panic, RPGs could be found in general-purpose hobby shops, book stores, and toy stores -- even Toys 'R Us.

I noticed that many people I knew who games in those days dropped out of the hobby by the time it became strongly associated with geekdom.

My buddies and I treated AD&D modules like video game cartridges, playing them over and over again.
The Hardboiled GMshoe's Office: game reviews, #randomworlds Q&A logs, and more!

To join #randomworlds chat: Click here, choose your nickname, and click "Connect".

#randomworlds Q&A schedule!

Caesar Slaad

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3585
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #79 on: July 28, 2017, 10:54:20 PM »
Quote from: Piratecat;977771
I first saw D&D in '78, and I still kick myself that I didn't join that group. I started playing for real in '81 or '82. So many house rules, SO MANY HOUSE RULES. That's because a lot of the AD&D rules were misinterpreted, needlessly complicated subsystems (grappling, pummeling and overbearing, anyone?) or a little finicky at the table. No one I knew gave a damn; we had almost as much fun arguing rules as we did playing the game, and that's seriously saying something.

I bought every module I could afford, but I don't think we played a single one of them. We tended to make our own adventures.


Kevin!!!!one!
The Secret Volcano Base: my intermittently updated RPG blog.

Running: Pathfinder Scarred Lands, Mutants & Masterminds, Masks, Starfinder, Bulldogs!
Playing: Sigh. Nothing.
Planning: Some Cyberpunk thing, system TBD.

GameDaddy

  • BANNED
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2931
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #80 on: July 31, 2017, 10:39:12 PM »
Okay, so... caught up with Bill Owen again over at Acaeum, and he has moved his blog over to wordpress now. He's still living in Uruguay. Anyway he has updated his blog and included details about the time before he and Bob Bledsaw formed Judges Guild. You know you are a badass gamer when;

I'm quoting Bill here now, ...on the Wargaming tours he has organized over the years;

Military history tours I have designed over a dozen including:

1991's MILLENNIUM OF MAYHEM tour with James F Dunnigan, Al Nofi, Bob Bledsaw, me and eleven intrepid wargamers. This was Bob's first flight in an airplane and he was very nervous flying up to Chicago on American Eagle. But after playing a game of Bulge at the American Airlines Executive Lounge (rented to assemble the "troops" and give them refreshments), Bob had regained his naturally charming demeanor and was chatting up stewardesses across the Atlantic.

1997 Tanks For The Memories, which had only four gamers including a certain Irish guy named Nick who got to operate a real tank, a Chieftain for the first time …at top speed into a mud puddle (or pond really). Our British host did tell Mitch, Mark and me we might get a mite bit muddy! I think Nick wanted to get muddy as a curtain of mud flooded into his open driver's hatch.

2003 WARGAME YOUR WAY ACROSS EUROPE, which started out at Arturo's wonderful wargame club in Rome.

2010's European TOUR OF BATTLE hosted by Al Nofi & Francis.

Michael's 21eme French Line Infantry Napoleonic Re-enactor tours to Austerlitz and Jena/Auerstadt and Waterloo!

July 15-22, 2011 was the Civil War Train #1, the sesquicentennial of the war's start with military historian, Al Nofi, in vintage 1950's train cars to Civil War battlefields out east (sold out with 45 people in 5 cars).
A 2nd Civil War trip went in September 2012 via Vicksburg, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chickamauga and Washington DC–a big triangular loop.

2013 renamed Private Train, we added the Revolutionary War and Williamsburg, Gettysburg, Antietam and Washington DC.

Another Private Train in 2014 to Boston, Washington DC & Philadelphia.
2015
2017 we visited the Alamo in San Antonio and New Orleans.


Leaving a few links for you are all here to his new blogs so you all can learn more about them early days of RPGs as well as wargaming...

Judges Guild & After by Bill Owen
https://wargamecampaign.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/updates-since-judges-guild-by-bill-owen/

ICD, Middle Earth & Judges Guild Precursors
https://wargamecampaign.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/icd-judges-guilds-precursors/
Blackmoor grew from a single Castle to include, first, several adjacent Castles (with the forces of Evil lying just off the edge of the world to an entire Northern Province of the Castle and Crusade Society's Great Kingdom.

~ Dave Arneson

Dumarest

  • Vaquero
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3685
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #81 on: July 31, 2017, 11:50:48 PM »
Quote from: Dark Eden;978494
This is the thread that finally got me to delurk and post something. I started doing tabletop gaming in the late 70s, though a lot of what I'm going to describe happened more in the early 80s. Here's a few things:

Hardcore mode. Gaming was intense, and characters died. A lot. Dungeons could be brutal and horrifying. But just like a fish doesn't know its wet, we weren't particularly conscious of this. It was just how it was. Having a high level character was a point of pride because it was difficult to achieve. One GM in particular had a jar full of ashes. If your character died during one of his games, he'd take your sheet and burn it on the spot and put its ashes in his jar. There were a LOT of ashes in that jar.

Fewer Campaigns, more one shots. The campaigns that were to be had lasted a long time. One lasted four years. Mostly we did one shot adventures with rotating GMs. Everyone would GM a little, and you'd have a roster of characters you'd run through adventures slowly leveling them up. The adventures weren't particularly well integrated into one world, we just didn't worry about that part. If a character died in one of these adventures though, they were DEAD, and it was very bad form to play them again. You had to be really careful what character you used in who's game, especially if the GM had beef with you. You'd typically have five to fifteen characters in your roster and keep playing them in multiple adventures with multiple GMs.

Slow Leveling. These days it feels like you can level three times in one adventure! That was definitely not the way back then. You could play through three four or even five adventures before finally getting enough xp to reach the next level. This built a lot of attachment to each character, at least for most of us.

Rampant Poorly Executed Cheating. Things were hard, and people compensated in a variety of ways. Its nice that everyone likes to image we were all super skilled awesome players that were a hundred times more hardcore than the punks these days, but no, really most of us just cheated ridiculously. There were a few people who had characters with stats of all 17s and 18s, and max hit points rolled every level. There were guys who would roll their dice and then scoop them up into their hands before anyone could see the numbers, then tell us what he rolled. Shockingly he rolled lots of 20s. We caught people with loaded dice. Who brings loaded dice to a D&D game? Players would lie about the rules and try to trick the GM. There was a distinctly adversarial relationship between GM and players in our little group that got frustrating for me on both ends. Also considered cheating: keeping multiple copies of your character sheet so you could keep playing a character when it died.

Lots of House Rules. Every GM had a few. This was easier because frankly the 1st edition rules were a cludgy mess. No part worked with the others particularly well so it was not hard at all to add new systems, replace old systems with your own, etc. It actually made the rules very modular and customizable. In hindsight that's actually good but at the time, I hated it, and I was honestly shocked when I learned there was an OSR. I had so many house rules trying to correct the many problems I saw in the rules.

Christians Hated D&D. Seriously, its probably hard for people today to imagine, but Christians were the SJWs of the 70s and 80s. I kept D&D books and supplies for several gamers whose parents thought D&D was literally devil worship. It was a specter hanging over our heads at all times. I mean, 2nd edition completely removed any reference to demons and devils in trying to placate these people. There was a serious cultural backlash against playing D&D, which ironically made it edgy and cool. Once normal people figured out that no, its not edgy and cool, but in fact something mostly geeks play, games like Vampire, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, etc showed up as if desperately chasing the edgelordiness D&D had lost. Coincidence? I THINK NOT! And about that removing demons and devils bit... that same atmosphere is present even more so these days just the humorless scolds have changed.

A sense of accomplishment. There was a huge sense of accomplishment for making a character, playing by the rules, and succeeding in these admittedly tough adventures. In particular I had this shitty little thief character that started with a whopping 2 hit points that I played through a lot of these random non campaign one shots, usually with characters with all 17s and 18s and max hit points. The thing is, you don't cheat if you don't have to. I played smart, as the games those days demanded. The ones who cheated didn't play smart and tried to just bull right through everything. Invariably, my crappy little thief outdid all of them by quick thinking and creativity. I survived not one but two party wipes, and some of those guys playing the cheater characters even tried to kill that crappy little thief when they were GMs, and failed every time! That crappy little 2hp thief wound up as a Thief/Fighter/Mage with probably about 20 levels scattered out between those three classes, and ended up being arguably my most successful character. Its hard to have the same attachment to characters these days. I don't typically stay with one character for four years, or take four years to go from 2hp scrub to 10th level hero like in some games at the time. It changes how you play and think of your character and the game.

Anyway that's it, my random meandering thoughts. Hopefully this was interesting.


If only your thief had stolen some Loperamide...:D

Dumarest

  • Vaquero
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3685
    • View Profile
Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #82 on: July 31, 2017, 11:51:42 PM »
Quote from: Just Another Snake Cult;978537
In the (Underrated) 1990 book Heroic Worlds author Lawrence Schick gives an interesting theory: To paraphrase, if OD&D had been perfect right out of the gate it might have become just another game that people keep on the shelf and get down and play sometimes. But because it was so flawed, you basically had to houserule it just to play it, this encouraged tinkering and innovation, and a lot of those houserulers just went the extra mile and created their own games, and so just like that apocryphal anecdote about how everyone who saw the first Velvet Underground show went on to form their own band...

I don't know if I agree with this 100%, but it's intriguing.


The story is that everyone who bought their first album went on to form a band. But yes.