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Author Topic: Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?  (Read 4174 times)

Voros

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2017, 09:05:38 PM »
The Grognard Files podcast would probably be of great interest as it captures the era of late 70s/early 80s UK gaming very well and with a refreshing sense of humour to boot.

Doc Sammy

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2017, 09:09:17 PM »
Quote from: Voros;977944
The Grognard Files podcast would probably be of great interest as it captures the era of late 70s/early 80s UK gaming very well and with a refreshing sense of humour to boot.

I will definitely check it out. Thanks.
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Black Vulmea

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2017, 09:45:25 PM »
Quote from: Doc Sammy;977763
What were the early days of RPG's like?

Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream. It is not dying.

It is not dying.

Lay down all thoughts - surrender to the void. It is shining - it is shining!
"Of course five generic Kobolds in a plain room is going to be dull. Making it potentially not dull is kinda the GM's job." - #Ladybird, theRPGsite

Really Bad Eggs - swashbuckling roleplaying games blog  | Promise City - Boot Hill campaign blog

ACS

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2017, 09:48:47 PM »
Quote from: Black Vulmea;977958
Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream. It is not dying.

It is not dying.

Lay down all thoughts - surrender to the void. It is shining - it is shining!


That you may see the meaning of within?

Black Vulmea

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2017, 10:05:53 PM »
Quote from: Dumarest;977959
That you may see the meaning of within?
It is being.

It is being.
"Of course five generic Kobolds in a plain room is going to be dull. Making it potentially not dull is kinda the GM's job." - #Ladybird, theRPGsite

Really Bad Eggs - swashbuckling roleplaying games blog  | Promise City - Boot Hill campaign blog

ACS

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #35 on: July 24, 2017, 10:11:47 PM »
Quote from: Black Vulmea;977965
It is being.

It is being.


Love is all and love is everyone.

It is knowing.

It is knowing.

GameDaddy

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #36 on: July 24, 2017, 11:19:39 PM »
Pretty sure I have written about this on this forum once or twice already...

Started playing wargames in 1972. mostly with the 1/72 scale Airfix and Caesar minis. Was an army brat, and found the minis in a German toy store in Frankfurt. Had a great collection of WWII minis by the spring of 1974 when I moved to South Carolina. There my Dad made friends with a guy who was in Army Intelligence, and he wargame heavily using the old SPI and Avalon Hill board wargames, and he got my Dad to play, but my Dad didn't really like playing. I watched, and I liked playing though, so he gave me several wargames, I remember SPI's Korea, and Huertgen Forest, and Aa couple of the ancients Quad games. For my Birthday in 1974, my Dad got me a copy of Panzer Leader. WIth the open random scenario design built-in for replayability, that was the game that got me hooked on wargames. I could recreate any WWII European land battle on a regiimental or brigade scale, using just that game, and spent hours playing with my Dad's friend. When I moved to Colorado in February of 1977 I had a pretty good selection of more than a dozen wargames, along with my 1/72 collection.

I was in junior High School at the time, and met some new friends that also wargamed. And I remember that Squad leader had just been released, and I had mail ordered a copy, and called my friends over to play. Turns out one of my middle school friends had a neighbor in college, by the name of Doug who wargamed too, and he was back from CSU ROTC on Holiday and looking to play some games. He had bought a D&D 74 brown box at Origins in the summer of 76, and right after Christmas had showed up wanting to play with us, because none of his college friiends were around, so we played D&D for the first time, and I died alot. I really liked wargames, but this was just as good!!!

So I started saving up to get my own books. By May of 77, I had a Holmes Bluebox, and a copy of the Judges Guild Ready Ref Sheets, and was running games for my middle school friends. We mixed it up a lot. One weekend playing D&D, another playing Squad Leader, Panzerleader, or Alexander the Great, or Submarine, or Bastogne, or Wooden Ships & Iron Men. As the 70's turned into the 80's we met more gamers, and started playing using minis, like 1/285 Tractics, I still had my 1/72 collection but no one but me and a couple of my  High School friends ran games using those. Mostly we would find a place outdoors to play, but I had a huge basement with shag carpets and a HO model railroad, and played WWII games on the railroad table often. By 78-79 we were playing Boot Hill and Gamma World,and I had picked up Traveller in the winter of 77, I remember making new subsectors when it was snowing outside and really enjoying snow days from school so I could work on my Traveller game all day long.

In 79 I went to my first gaming convention. Ghengis Con I in Denver, and we (being me and my high school gaming group) mostly played in State Wargame championship tournaments. We also bought RPG books, and brought them back with us. In 1980 RPGs really took off in Colorado. Greg Stafford was at Ghengis Con, and he had just published a new edition of Runequest, which I tried at the show, and didn't like, because I wanted to play a human, and everyone else wanted to play intelligent critters. While we had four hundred or so players in 1979, there were over a thousand gamers that showed there in 1980. I started trying other RPGs besides D&D. Arduin, The Fantasy Trip, which I liked alot, Tunnels and Trolls, which never caught on with me, Warlock, the Caltech D&D variant which I liked very much, and continue to like even now.

I still played wargames, However played D&D or Gamma World or Traveller, or a mashuip of these three games just about every week. By the time I had graduated from high school and joined the military/entered college, I had a wargame & RPG collection that was worth much more than my car.

It was all pretty relaxed and we had lots of fun. I didn't really get on the AD&D train, finding D&D was quite sufficient for everything I wanted to do as a GM, although I did play AD&D and rolled up advanced characters when my friends GM'ed AD&D in the late 70's and early 80's. I used the monsters out of the AD&D Monster manual for my whitebox D&D games, and used random generation tables from the back of the AD&D DMG, to help me make a better D&D game, but never fully adopted AD&D as my primary RPG game. It was all mostly interchangeable, well until 1980 anyway.

In 1980 newly founded RPGA would not let me run D&D games at Ghenghis Con and insisted I run AD&D games. I ran D&D anyway, the way I wanted, but wasn't listed in the prereg book, and was very unhappy about that.
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Spinachcat

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #37 on: July 25, 2017, 01:54:59 AM »
Summer 1978, California Bay Area

You gotta remember cable was rare. Not just no internet. There was UHF stations which were these whackass local stations showing old TV shows and old movies. Some these stations were awesome, most were wank. VHS was barely a thing. Atari and arcades were just becoming a thing. Malls (in the modern sense) were kinda a new thing. Movies had re-releases. I saw Star Wars each summer from 77 to 79 in the theater, bunch of other films too. Kids went outside and each other's houses via foot or bike. None of this play date set up by parents shit.

So not only were there far fewer media options, but there was far more freedom for kids to be out of their parents' sight. So we gathered in odd places to play pretend elf. We often played in libraries, pizza places, tree houses, tool sheds, picnic tables in parks. One of my friends had a flat roof so we gamed up there.

And it was common to have girls in the group in middle school. Not in high school though - very much gender segregated by comparison.

Anselyn

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #38 on: July 25, 2017, 03:27:38 AM »
Quote from: Doc Sammy;977804
Wow, a lot of great information is to be had in this thread. I like what I'm reading and I find this stuff to be fascinating, interesting, and useful for my upcoming story.


It's probably also worth reading The Elfish Gene.  It's about a roleplayer growing up in the UK in the 70s but is insightful into 70s RPG and 70s culture. It really gets a lot of the feel and details right -  but is rather layered with a rejection of the person the author was at that point as part of the pitch of the book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Elfish-Gene-Dungeons-Dragons-Growing/dp/1447260910

Omega

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #39 on: July 25, 2017, 04:41:34 AM »
My first experiences were with O or H D&D. It was pretty bog standard. I was the group mapper and we explored around. I really didnt understand much of it at all at the time but was fun and then Gamma World and BX came out later I got them and things moved on from there.

Id say overall gameplay and games havent really changed all that much. What you see today youd see way back. Just not so stringently. It was relegated to letters and coventions and according to TSR staff I talked to what was shown in Dragon was really mild compared to the totally nuts stuff theyd get. Old school? No such thing as what people are doing today they were doing back then too. Storytelling, worldbuilding, intrigues, romances, epic battles, generational, you name it someones likely done it.

tenbones

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #40 on: July 25, 2017, 11:11:09 AM »
Quote from: Spinachcat;977998
Summer 1978, California Bay Area

You gotta remember cable was rare. Not just no internet. There was UHF stations which were these whackass local stations showing old TV shows and old movies. Some these stations were awesome, most were wank. VHS was barely a thing. Atari and arcades were just becoming a thing. Malls (in the modern sense) were kinda a new thing. Movies had re-releases. I saw Star Wars each summer from 77 to 79 in the theater, bunch of other films too. Kids went outside and each other's houses via foot or bike. None of this play date set up by parents shit.

So not only were there far fewer media options, but there was far more freedom for kids to be out of their parents' sight. So we gathered in odd places to play pretend elf. We often played in libraries, pizza places, tree houses, tool sheds, picnic tables in parks. One of my friends had a flat roof so we gamed up there.

And it was common to have girls in the group in middle school. Not in high school though - very much gender segregated by comparison.

Damn this is spot on. My first campaign I ever played in, my DM was a Vietnamese girl named Hang Vo. She taught me all the basics, she barely spoke English, but she and her brother *loved* D&D. And when I set my own game up, half my players were girls (some I'm still in touch with to this day). I didn't notice the lack of girls in gaming, again at least in LA, until I got into high-school.

But yeah, being cooped in bizarre places, up away from parents, gaming definitely filled a lot of void that is currently filled up with other distractions for most people. It lended itself to other experiences by circumstance of that isolation away from prying eyes... ahem. But those are other stories (all of which are indelibly tied to the act of gaming for me).

Edit: This is why Stranger Things strikes so many chords with a large population of gamers that grew up in that era. I was older than those kids, but their experiences were not too different than mine. Aside from fighting extradimensional monsters. Mine were just hood-rats.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 11:13:27 AM by tenbones »

Doc Sammy

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #41 on: July 25, 2017, 12:13:21 PM »
Quote from: tenbones;978077
Damn this is spot on. My first campaign I ever played in, my DM was a Vietnamese girl named Hang Vo. She taught me all the basics, she barely spoke English, but she and her brother *loved* D&D. And when I set my own game up, half my players were girls (some I'm still in touch with to this day). I didn't notice the lack of girls in gaming, again at least in LA, until I got into high-school.

But yeah, being cooped in bizarre places, up away from parents, gaming definitely filled a lot of void that is currently filled up with other distractions for most people. It lended itself to other experiences by circumstance of that isolation away from prying eyes... ahem. But those are other stories (all of which are indelibly tied to the act of gaming for me).

Edit: This is why Stranger Things strikes so many chords with a large population of gamers that grew up in that era. I was older than those kids, but their experiences were not too different than mine. Aside from fighting extradimensional monsters. Mine were just hood-rats.

So, out of curiosity, were there any particular pieces of fiction (books, movies, TV, etc.)that stood out in terms of influences on your early campaigns?

This question applies to all the old-school gamers here, by the way.
Sic Semper Tyrannis

RunningLaser

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #42 on: July 25, 2017, 12:45:55 PM »
Quote from: Spinachcat;977998
Kids went outside and each other's houses via foot or bike. None of this play date set up by parents shit.

So not only were there far fewer media options, but there was far more freedom for kids to be out of their parents' sight. So we gathered in odd places to play pretend elf. We often played in libraries, pizza places, tree houses, tool sheds, picnic tables in parks. One of my friends had a flat roof so we gamed up there.

And it was common to have girls in the group in middle school. Not in high school though - very much gender segregated by comparison.


God, I spent many summers gaming in all the nooks and crannies of a house, sitting on milk crates or a pile of crap on a back porch.  I don't think it was until my 20's that we gamed on chairs and couches...  in the attic of an old garage:)  I doubt my aging back could handle it, but I miss those days.

estar

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #43 on: July 25, 2017, 01:00:33 PM »
Quote from: Doc Sammy;978085
So, out of curiosity, were there any particular pieces of fiction (books, movies, TV, etc.)that stood out in terms of influences on your early campaigns?

This question applies to all the old-school gamers here, by the way.

As far as film and show Excalibur, Robin of Sherwood, and Hawk the Slayer stand out.  For fiction for my age group it was the era of post Shannara so the range of fantasy fiction was expanding every quarter. Not just Tolkienesque knock off but everything including the classics like Conan, Le Guin, Moorcock and Leiber. Of the more recent entries the Jhereg series stood out and the Thieves World series.

Zevious Zoquis

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Gaming in the 70's: What Were the Early Days of RPG's Like?
« Reply #44 on: July 25, 2017, 01:38:19 PM »
For me it was largely about Conan as far as influences in fiction.  I couldn't get enough of those 70s Lancer collections with the Frazetta covers.  And from that the Conan comics and Savage Sword.