Founding Fathers

Founding Fathers

Modern tabletop gaming owes its roots to traditional war games, a lineage that can be traced to these visionaries from Baron von Reisswitz to H.G. Wells.

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Fantastic article. Thank you.

Cool article. I knew a bit of that, and honestly I kind of miss the old days of role-playing when it was mostly still collegiate descendants of wargaming clubs, and kids/teens being involved with RPGs were an exception rather than the norm. :P

The only point I'd question, which is minor in this case, is that I don't think "Blackmoor" was the actual first RPG "campaign setting" despite what a lot of people might think. I think technically Professor M.A.R. Barker (I think that's right) technically beat Gygax and Arnenson to the punch with his Tukemel [SP]/Empire Of the Petal Throne. Though the high price of his product prevented it from catching on or overtaking the more popular Gygax/Arnenson works.

Therumancer:
The only point I'd question, which is minor in this case, is that I don't think "Blackmoor" was the actual first RPG "campaign setting" despite what a lot of people might think. I think technically Professor M.A.R. Barker (I think that's right) technically beat Gygax and Arnenson to the punch with his Tukemel [SP]/Empire Of the Petal Throne. Though the high price of his product prevented it from catching on or overtaking the more popular Gygax/Arnenson works.

There are several related matters to untangle here.

M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne RPG was published in 1975 by TSR, a year after the release of D&D and the same year as its Supplement II, entitled Blackmoor (and credited to Dave Arneson, even though much of its contents were written by others, notably Steve Marsh). EPT's setting of Tekumel was created by Barker decades before and he did play some miniatures wargames campaigns in it, but it didn't become a RPG setting until after Barker had met Arneson and become exposed to D&D. By that time, Blackmoor, the campaign setting, had already been well under way for several years, predating both Gygax's Greyhawk setting and in fact D&D itself.

Very interesting article, James. I didn't know much about the hobby pre-Wells, so thank you for the enlightenment.

I can't help but find it awfully amusing that such a stalwart publication as Jane's reference books began life as a gaming supplement. Heheh...

Therumancer:
I think technically Professor M.A.R. Barker (I think that's right) technically beat Gygax and Arnenson to the punch with his Tukemel [SP]/Empire Of the Petal Throne.

Yes, Tekumel was the first /published/ modern-day RPG setting although it was also, as James points out, originally a gaming, world-creation and literary exercise; first set down on paper around 1950 from about a decade's worth of "living in" prior to that. It wasn't, however, a "RPG setting" (as such) until 1974.
Blackmoor was the first setting created /for/ a modern-day RPG and was very much a "test bed" for those, as stated.

There were various settings such as Lankhmar (Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd) and Harry Otto Fischer (The Gray Mouser)), Magira/Midgard (Hugh Walker et al.) and Hyboria (sic) (Tony Bath) produced for campaigns down towards 1:1 scale with strong roleplaying elements but none of those are generally recognised as a modern-day RPG... /despite/ the original D&D being "Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns". Go figure? ;)

Cheers,
David.

Thanks for the nostalgia. Me and my brother moved from historical miniatures (Napoleonic, Seven Years War and medieval) to fantasy (through Chainmail) and on to D&D. Still play D&D and still keep up with Tekumel for that matter.

I loved Chainmail, especially the fantasy supplement (a major addiction to Tolkien at the time) but my favorite old style miniature rules were Charles Grant's "The Wargame". Interesting set of 18th century rules using 30mm+ miniatures. I remember it specifically because the unit size wasn't based on a proportion but on the actual ground ocupied by the unit in game scale and how many model soldiers it took to occupy that turf. Simple rules, a close connection to older miniature rules and really fun campaign rules.

Good stuff.

Christopher B:
Very interesting article, James. I didn't know much about the hobby pre-Wells, so thank you for the enlightenment.

I can't help but find it awfully amusing that such a stalwart publication as Jane's reference books began life as a gaming supplement. Heheh...

I know Jane's from his supported 1990's combat simulation games, especially U.S. Navy Fighers. I'm curious if the naval miniatures game is still available somewhere...

Very interesting article. Could staged simulations of hypotheses as to where an enemy might strike next, occurring during actual wartime, be considered wargames? Certainly Douglas Haig made a lot of controversial decisions in the second half of the first world war, sending many allied soldiers to their deaths for little percieved gain. One of the reasons for this was considered to be that he had never seen the Front, and was just formulating his strategy based on dispatches. Do you think his seeming willingness to incur such large casualties for small rewards, could be that he viewed them as pawns in a wargame?

The Fred Jane Naval Game is available from the History of Wargaming Project.

See www.johncurryevents.co.uk for details (under books).

Also look on amazon for it.

Well written and interesting article. It's always good to study the roots of a given area of interest.

As a fan of wargamming, I was hooked on your article. It was intresting to see how far the history of wargamming went back and where it came from. Although I don't know enough to talk about it in depth, your article has gotten me interested in the past of it. I hope you write more in the future, I will be your loyal fan. :)

A very interesting article! It was a good read for me because I've been Roleplaying for about 4 years now and haven't once thought about where it all began :P

Nyrad01:
A very interesting article! It was a good read for me because I've been Roleplaying for about 4 years now and haven't once thought about where it all began :P

:)

Could ask Gary that same question, too; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ0raag8TD8 (from 4'50").
Interesting that that was "forgotten about" but goes to show that once you get a way of thinking under your skin (that an independent referee was a beneficial idea, for example, in this case), that this can become second nature.

Very interesting article. It has really made me realize how old one of my favorite hobbies is. Also, I wonder if the naval game is in any way connected to Wooden Ships and Iron Men, at least through influence.

 

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