The misleading history of our hobby

Whilst reading Pegasus magazine issue #8, i stumbled upon a pretty positive review written in July 1982 about the game "Beasts, men & gods" which was recently republished in its 2nd edition.

The reviewer goes so further as to say that BMG is "one of the better fantasy role-playing systems around today". Because the time was 1982, there already were several fantasy rpg's to which you could make a comparison (see here).

As for the magic system we learn that "it is extremely logical, and other systems would do well to examine this one".

The only shortcoming of the book seems to lie in the absence of an introductory adventure/scenario, as the reviewer stresses at the end of page, without forgetting to heartily recommend the game to the audience.

I admit that i've never played this game, but at the same time i am baffled by the lack of posts in the OSR blogs about it.

Being apparently a good fantasy rpg and given that it was re-released in our time for OSR enthusiasts (who should presumably rejoice when old fantasy games resurface in our epoch), to what one can ascribe this lack of interest?

The only reason i can think of is the usual one: lack of awareness about these games of niche, as i am realizing more and more while i read Designers & Dragons (link). I was so excited about such a book when i heard about it, i purchased it and though it covers a lot of useful information it entirely skips many fantasy games just because they didn't quite "hit" the market at that time.

It is such a pity. There are so many gaps to be found in even such a great book as Designers &Dragons above.

But as for Beasts, men & gods, i suspect that there is something more to blame. We are not living in the eighties now, and we all are globally connected.

The fact that an old fantasy game, albeit available doesn't rise interest or curiosity at the very least makes me wonder that at the bottom there is a sort of psychic lethargy underlying. One more time, the history of our hobby is neglected and i surmise it will always be. The RPG encyclopedia does a better job at covering all the rpg's published through the years than does Designers & Dragons. It is to no avail to list the big games and pretend that the story ends right there, because it is just not true.


Tedankhamen said...

Whatever language you speak shapes and limits your thoughts. Just imagine all the unthinkable thoughts we've lost with all the languages that have gone extinct. If D&D is the lingua franca of the gaming world, then I suspect the same limiting principle applies, and will demand that anyone wishing to go beyond their limits make a near superhuman effort to learn or revive a dying language in resistance to the inertia of the common language population.

I've had to stop blogging while in this final stage of my phd, but as I stated to you and others before, I'd like to start a G+ gaming circle for forgotten and defunct games. I will make the announcement when the time comes.

Ivan Sorensen said...

I find that many gamers are not interested in "games" as such but in one or two particular games, typically D&D and maybe something like Traveller or Rolemaster, if they are "old school gamers".

5stonegames said...

I wouldn't call it psychic lethargy as much as obscurity.

Almost no one heard about those games back in 1982 and fewer played or had access to them.

Now I grant you it seems to me that many gamers today are kind of lazy about reading rules but this isn't a new problem, I remember it in the 1990's too

Still its unlikely that people who were say 12-15 like most of the 2nd era gamers (starting typically with AD&D or Holmes basic)in 1982 could have laid hands on them . This makes them unknown and unless someone is looking for something on the web they won't find it. And as awash as we are in excellent newer games, adults haven't time or interest in older games other than as a historical curiosity .

Most people don't care much for history anyway. We here do but other people just want to play, not study

Now there are old games that have made a resurgence, Fighting Fantasy, Dragon warriors, Maelstrom among and of course games you've mentioned but but outside of the old fan base or among converts, there is little interest

As for younger gamers like many in my group, why would they be interested in game from well before they were born? I can't really blame them, an old game for them is from 1994 .

One last thing I value the work you do, I am interested in old less known games and if it weren't for your work, so much would go unknown. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I never stopped playing the games I played in the 80s, so the OSR has meant mainly a flood of blogs & products that inspire me. That is no small thing, but it does mean that to me the OSR isn't a philosophy, a principled stance, or an academic exercise. It's personal in an old fashioned sort of way. So games that I never heard of, much less played, are simple curiosities to me. I suspect this is true of many.

Matthew Skail said...

For me, it's unfamiliarity with the product. As I have limited time and resources, I don't get excited by something just because it's old. Having read this post I still know nothing about the game, nor about why I should be.

Having said that I recently bought four of the original Dragon Warriors novel sized books because I remember reading their ad in an old copy of White Dwarf I got as a kid and always wanting to know more. So I have an emotional connection to DW that I don't to numerous other old products.

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