Role-playing games' official timeline

The line that matters most to me is the "Complex fantasy system" line.
I am obsessed with complex fantasy rpg's, otherwise- i obviously would not be playing Powers  & Perils.

According to the timeline, no complex fantasy system existed before 1977.


If you want to abandon blogspot

This is a good alternative, at least they don't ask you your mobile number in order to open a blog...


maybe i'll migrate there someday, once and for all. Who knows

FC2 blogs: check them out.


If we were immortals, no one would pray and go to church

From which it logically follows that almost no-one goes to church and prays just to thank God for being in existence, but rather he/she goes there in order to beg Him to be preserved in existence.

In our Powers & Perils campaign priest/clerics don't exist, i didn't allow them.
Honestly, there is no such class in the core rules,but Mr. Snider later thought he made a mistake and in a subsequent article appeared in Heroes magazine he introduced the possibility of playing the priest class.

To tell the whole story, in P&P there could be thieves (assassin), it's a skill you can pick (in theory) but i don't allow it as well. In fact, even Richard Snider later realized it was too potent a "class".

But absolutely no priests in my game, for the simple reasons that they just can't have the powers ascribed to them. How many priests in our world see their prayers heard and answered in terms of powers granted to them? Only a few saints happened to have similar powers bestowed on them. In this respect, only Ed Simbalist wrote words of wisdom about the priest class in the past.

To sum it up, in P&P you could theoretically play a priest, a thief, a generic adventurer (let's call it a "would-be warrior"), and a magician. Only for magicians there actually are dedicated chapters in Powers & Perils boxed set, but as i said earlier playing such a character is difficult. Magicians in P&P could lose their own lives when they cast spells.


Which old school game you want to see reprinted

I just finished reading the post at Grognardia and apart from being pleasantly surprised in stumbling upon this:

"I'm going to to out on a limb and say Powers & Perils. I started gaming with wargames, so I was able to decipher the presentation of P&P, and to me it was very evocative. I think the designer had a clear vision, but he didn't convey it well, and in places, didn't execute it well. With some retroclone rework, though, that could be an awesome system."

which made me think how great would be a P&P reprint for the new generations-
it seems that a lot of guys out there want to see this back.

I admit i never played it, i just made a cursory reading, since i own the boxed set scanned in PDF. But i noticed something cool in it, can't say what it was but it was there among the pages. Maybe i'll post something about that in the future, as- moreover- i realized that it's one of the few boxed set i still miss in their original format.


Powers & Perils: really as bad as they say?

People who stumble on this blog might think that, since i planned to write about the ten "most spellbinding" fantasy rpg in the history of the hobby, i will surely put "Powers & Perils" in the first place for the very reason that i have talked a lot about it recently.

Well, this is not the case. That is not automatic. I hold in high esteem P&P, but even if i wrote hundreds of posts about it that does not necessarily means i will put it in the first place.

One of the virtues i think i have is that of being able to shift perspective, and this applies heavily on rpg's as well, this capacity enabled me in the years past to be able to evaluate and TASTE many different fantasy rpg's of the past - add to this that i personally dislike fixation on just one game, that's why i have always condemned and despised the multitude of guys around me who just couldn't move their eyes from AD&D to point them anywhere else.

Grognardia recently wrote here about the different old school traditions. Nothing truer than that.

Some days ago i noticed that on Amazon website, in the entry about Powers & Perils there is just one comment and it is a very positive one, even arguing for a reprint of the game:

One of the Best RPGs out there, ever...should even be brought back into print

There have been many games that I've seen come and go. Fantasy games. Science Fiction games. You name it, someone's put it out. P&P is one of the best games out there, above the multitudes of games that you see on the market today (most of which, sigh, combine themselves with the D20 system instead of striking out at new territories). If you want a rich, detailed, and well-developed setting and rule work, then you need to pick this game up now. It is hard to find. It is an old game. But it is worth every penny to buy it. I've worn out several of my box sets myself due to heavy use of the rulebooks (which, sadly, are paper bound ... which is the only negative thing about this game). The rules are modular, you can put in or take out what you want, you the GM and you the players are in control. Most of the time, you'll end up using D100 style rolls. The magic system is grandiose and spectacular. And if you can find it, the Perilous Lands setting is one of the wealthiest settings alive. Get this game and have a blast. Flush the D20 systems down the toilet.

Also, i recently found an interesting (and long) thread about the worthiness of Powers & Perils on RPG.NET forum, here. Check it out.

Enough for today.


One of the most complex fantasy rpg ever?

This is the last comment, left 4 months ago, on Grognardia's retrospective on Powers & Perils:

I've played a lot of role-playing games in my life. Like many others, I teethed on AD&D. I took a gamble on Powers and Perils and was glad I did. It is'nt a game that you can merely flick through. You have to read it and then play it. The game is complex tis true, but for good reason... It has a versitile system where generating a character makes it nigh impossible to come up with identical characters, an extremely diverse and solid magic system and a game where the players can feel their character developing as they play.

James wrote that Powers & Perils feels far more sterile, as if it were an exercise in "Ivory Tower" game design divorced from actual play.

I picked my copy of Heroic worlds, and looking for P&P entry we read:

Exceedingly complex fantasy system,with skill-based character abilities and a spell point magic system. There are five rulebooks: [...]

So everyone here seems to consider Powers & Perils terrifying complex, but that is not true in my opinion. I think many persons out there lack a virtue called patience, first of all. Secondly, a lot of players crave for immediate entertaining, of the kind a game like D&D can bestow.
I would like to make posts in the future where i create characters (also magicians), and i 'd like to talk about combat and other things as well.

Also, i found this today.

But how wrong is James' review of Powers & Perils whenever i read it: surely no one would feel the urge to try this game if he based his opinions solely on what James wrote in that (quite brief) post. It's virtually impossible to list all the subtle details of this game in a few pages, how could he do it in a couple of sentences?

I am articularly struck by phrases such as these:
...it's a poorly organized and unnecessarily complex design given that it contains so little that's genuinely new or imaginative.

(so little that is genuinely new or imaginative?) The combat alone is aeons far ahead that found in AD&D, just to make an example...

another phrase:

..There's very little to recommend it over almost any other significant fantasy RPG of its era (or before), because it brings almost nothing unique to the table.

again, what? almost nothing unique to the table? Are you cognizant of the immense list of unique attributes not to be found in other fantasy games, or the magic system, or the skill system (i love it so much), or the experience system which is a work of genius?

Powers & Perils is not so complex as they say, there are tons of tables that Richard Snider put in those books to help the reader find the appropriate values immediately.
I think i will explain P&P a little bit to the masses in the future.


Adventures in fantasy (by Dave Arneson and Richard Snider, 1979)

I should be in love with this game, considering that it was written by Dave Arneson (which i always deemed superior to Gygax) and Richard Snider (another hero of mine, creator of Powers & Perils) together!


I have an original boxed set copy, but i was wondering- how many old-school players out there are aware that this game is floating on the WWW in pdf form?

(if you want to know more of this game, go here).


Behold a group of Powers & Perils fantasy rpg nowadays!

Here we are. The only photos on the WWW of a real group of human beings playing Powers & Perils in 2012!

Yes, the game is not dead, and we are in good company.
Long live Richard Snider's wisdom and his legacy! There are two players missing in these photos, maybe i'll add them later.

Rig is engrossed in the character creation process (in order to choose skills, he has to take into account starting level, NEL -new expertise level-, and maximum skill level. For a couple of minutes he was perplexed :))

James, for the first time dealing with P&P skills.

Please do not disturb Rig now. He is deeply thinking.

James is perusing the optional P&P skills (as published in Heroes magazine). Is he going to choose the eroticist skill? Possibly so.

Your humble Game master

Thoughts about old-school fantasy rpg's and P&P

I received this long comment by Phineas Cromwell divided in two parts, as a reply to this post of mine.

I thought the best thing is to publish it in its entirety as a separate post, because i deem it quite interesting. It deal about Powers & Perils, complex old-school fantasy rpg's, Gygax, Arneson, Richard Snider. Check it out.
PART ONE: Powers And Perils, like ALL fantasy roleplaying gaming systems, is directly rooted in the breakthrough development represented by Dungeons And Dragons. The essence of this evolutionary development is basically twofold: the breathing of literal character-life into its precursor form, i.e., the strategic wargame venue, and the enhancement (to potentially infinite degree) of a narrative dimension. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (and a few others) are forever memorialized for bringing this evolution to us, and that is as it should be. Now what is fascinating about the history of FRPGs is how, virtually immediately, a sort of friendly 'revisionist rebuttal' began against D&D. When D&D first came out (the '0th' edition), gaming groups were wondering how to handle an ever-expanding potential of new ideas; they needed to develop, in other words, their own mechanics for dealing with the newer aspects and concepts they wanted to add to the game. It was out of this 'tinkering, tweaking and tuning' that eventually gave birth to entire gaming systems. Because we are taliking about Powers And Perils, we are talking about the 'Complex Tangent Line' of FRPG history, as opposed to any 'rules-lite' orientations. The complex line often gets bashed by those of the lite and moderate orientations, mainly because of preferential reasons rooted in the subjective. I happen to be an ardent supporter of the complex 'school-of-thought'. Personally, I appreciate and am fascinated by so-called 'crunchy' systems; I feel they add to the 'art & the craft' in their own way. Chivalry And Sorcery and RuneQuest are two of the first entries in this historical line of development, with C&S being more on the crunchy end and RQ sort of straddling the fence between complex and moderate. As for P&P, its development occured somewhat later in this early era, but its roots tie in directly with those responsible for D&D. P&P's author, Richard Snider, was an extremely enthusiastic player (Arneson's words) in Dave Arneson's developing Blackmoor campaign world (the so-called "First Fantasy Campaign"). Arneson split from Gygax and TSR over creative differences concerning the direction of D&D. Simply put, Arneson had ideas to advance the game in a more sophisticated direction, e.g., lifting it above its 'character-as-gamepiece' feel (something 4E, by the way, has devolved into more than ever). Gygax, in retrospect, suffered from a myopic limited vision concerning the game that was mired down in the traits of D&D's grand-daddy, strategic wargaming. He was resistant to players modifying the rules, because he had a 'tournment rulings' mentality at the time, and felt that he had worked long and hard on the mechanics to finesse them into (his conception of ) playability and game balance. As for myself, despite the fact that I always respected Gygax for his critical part in the creation of something that I loved, I still held his limited views against him (in a friendly kind of way, that is). HOWEVER: this all changed in the early 90s when he came out with a game called Mythus. As I leafed through the corebook of this new game, I experienced an amazing revelation. To sum it up, Gygax had EVOLVED beyond his former self, and had assumed a more advanced, sophisticated orientation regarding FRPG systems, and what i held in my hand was essentially Gygax's version of ... POWERS AND PERILS.

PART TWO: Now, at that point, I had already been deeply acquainted with P&P for quite a few years; it was a game that represented my personal 'philosophy' or 'school-of-thought' as I sometimes like to call it. When I was reading Mythus (which is a masterpiece), I was seeing the same ESSENTIAL principles that P&P was built upon. For me, that is significant, and speaks of the importance of P&P as a system. P&P barely had a published lifespan to be evolved in an 'official' capacity. No extensive playtesting from an official staff publishing their corrections and modifications. No sourcebooks. There was some support, but it was dictated by the era, and budget, and was almost entirely from Snider. But what was ther was very significant, for it was a very strong base, a foundation, that was unusually sound. The core of the systems, the rationale behind them, just make sense. P&P provides a great FOUNDATION to develop on. The whole long-winded point I am trying to make here is basically one of Coming Full Circle. Richard Snider's vision was kind of ahead of its time, I think (back in the early 80s). He and Arneson shared a certain kind of spirit in gaming; Gygax, for the time being, had won out. But Gygax changed after his personal debacle with the TSR experience, and his change was oriented toward what is represented by Powers And Perils. P&P is similar to Chivalry And Sorcery: they are two truly great games that got bad press because the 'majority' were intimidated by their complexity. These kinds of systems, simply put, are not for everyone. But for those they are made for (the 'art & the craft' types), their greatness and importance are understood and cherished. Actually, it is a mark of honor that they get bashed because of this preferential disavowal; but it can be unfortunate when the very existence of the game does not come to the attention of those who would deeply appreciate it.


Powers & Perils RPG by Avalon Hill (a video)

the video stops abruptly at the end of minute one until 1.45
and from 3.0 to 3.49, so you have to skipe those parts, sorry. i don't know why that happened, i recorded it with the youtube feature "my webcam" so it's not my mistake.

A long comment a P&P dungeon master sent to me

Richard Snider, creator of "Powers & Perils"

Received and published:

P&P is as stated obviously not a system for the simple player or
GM. It does require some level of brain power than say a pot smoker
who could easily play the vast majority of other games. Not that all
simple gamers are that way. But the vast majority of all rps tend to
have the six-pack-Joe type that can cookie-place the game. Give some
teen a pair of dice and majority will play the most popular systems
out there in no time. But on the other hand there are some systems
that are a bit more complex that require thought and patience. For
example some board games or miniature games require more than just
tossing some dice. P&P is the same but for the rpg industry. BUT
with a good skilled GM even the confused players can have a good time.
I run about 26 rpgs of various genres. Probably countless board
games. Miniature games maybe a dozen. It is in the skill set of a
person to learn the game for themselves. Back in mid'80s when we
got the game at some Con we enjoyed it in hours not weeks. Two
years later at a con I ran a 8 player game in on session teaching new
players who never even played it how to use the system. Course I did
have tons of prepared things like cheat sheets and such. But if a new
group can enjoy it in a few hours then I think anyone can with the
right patience.

Some consider the system just another hack. This can be debated.
We can go back to Shakespeare and find only a few story lines in
history. Does that mean some unique movie is not worth watching
cause it was just a 'typical murder' movie? The problem is this
system is a love or hate it game. GM and player will either love
it or hate it on that awful first impression likely the first hour.
But is that the fault of the game? The complex rules? The bias of
the player? The bad GM who can only read some adventure text and
not come up with his own original idea?

Given the chance 99% of my friends/players have enjoyed the game.
Only one player didn't seem to like the math. Another player
refused to play team player and created havoc because he didn't
like the game. Two out of hundreds.

The math is complex for some who don't like simple math. They need
a calculator to figure out the things needed done. But then these
are the same people who work at a fast food place and can't make
change from a 5$ bill on a meal of 2$. They need a cash register
to figure out for them. This isn't the fault of the game but of
the person who decides to be just lazy or give a brass bit.

There are much more complex games out there. Chartmaster a certain
name we give to a X-Master game I'll not name that is so full of
chart flipping that a typical combat takes a full hour for one round.
Sometimes details can be overwhelming and it is up o the GM to
decide what is needed in their game. This is why this game works
so well it was designed on purpose to give that flexibility.
Frankly many other games out there do not have that flex nature.

I've done the system for almost 3 decades. I've run a game constantly
for the last 17 years. Before that off and on for a decade or two.

I am biased I bit but aren't we all?

RPGs adapt and change. We've seen it go from that certain dungeon
style to complex visions of worlds. We've seen rpgs rise and fall.
Now kids consider Magic or those other systems to be 'rpgs'. But
P&P to me has stayed the same for the last 3 decades. We've seen
this version and the Xth version of this game come out - even to
the point of stupid changes or just a new trick to spend money on.
Yet you can get P&P in 2 boxes and that's it. No suitcase of just
side supplements to cover one aspect or a briefcase of rule bonks
that debate on one rule.

To me this game has stayed in my heart for that. I'll still play
the other games but I prefer to RUN and play in P&P. It is tied
to another game system (fantasy genre) which I like and nothing
else really compares to it in the scope of creativity. This doesn't
mean P&P is BETTER than X or Y system. Been there done that debate.
This is only my view.

Given enough brain energy and time anyone can learn the game and

Don't want the game to allow one to have the Hand to Hand skill -
much rather add a martial arts skill? So be it! Do it.

Sadly many other systems do not have that a good flex ability as
this system.

Some say it takes a player 3 hours at least to generate a player.
In the first few months I could do that in minutes. Now I could do
a dozen full players in a flash.

Again this is just how one learns and handles the system. Come in
without a open mind then you will just see another hack.

I rarely get to play the game myself due to time. In the last
decade we did have 2 GMs run pbem games. As with the vast majority
of PBEMs out there they failed shortly after. But I have done a
pbem (still so - on my 5th adventure) since mid-90s. Some with the
same players.

Another aspect I like about the game is the fans. While we aren't
as diverse as certain dungeon fans we have a tight enough group
that allows us to just have fun. None of the "well the spell says
it can do this but the 3rd edition said the movement was changed
and the physics of the spell mechanics..." blah blah. Debate to
no end.

How many do you get to deal with the author personally over the
years and help create a entirely new version/update as we did for
version 2?

To think that I'm a 100% fan of the game isn't right either. Sure
there are issues. Minor ones which I simply ignore or change. NO
game is perfect. IF you believe that then you are in your own
fantasy world and no need to play in another fantasy world.

My 2 Brass Bits.

Scott Adams


Random thoughts

It seems i was in a haste the other day when i started the project on the list of the "best" fantasy rpg's in the history of the hobby.
I wrote the entry for AD&D and i said it was the ninth position. First mistake: the list is composed of, roughly, TEN games. I swear i didn't do it on purpose, but at last when i counted the games i intended to cover they were ten. We are used to hear here and there the "top ten", and i ended up with a top-ten as well.

I decided to write at least a brief entry on each game i'm going to cover, giving some information and some impressions of mine, albeit i won't go in a deep detail notwithstanding.

I have limits as everyone else, so there will be fantasy rpg's i am not able to say anything about.
Among them, fantasy rpg's that were published in other countries and are not written in english, such as this one, or this, or this, just to give the idea.
Besides, fantasy rpg's i have always wanted to peruse but never had the chance to, such as "Phantasy conclave", or "Castle Perilous". I know nothing about them, alas.

Apart from this, I can do everything else. I am obsessed with old-school fantasy rpg's and this blog is devoted to them.


Some interesting posts about P&P


( i didn't write it myself..)

and this one on blogspot:


the part i like most in the article above:

"I purposely did not create a non-human or magic-using character. The magic system in P&P is very arcane and I didn't have that kind of time" [...]

Here this guy says:

Powers & Perils had some complexities, but they were mostly due to the rules centrally being written in a confusing way. The actual game wasn`t significantly more complex than, say, AD&D.

(More links to follow in the future)

Our adventure is about to start

Everyone is now ready to start the Powers & Perils adventure.
Last session we chose the skills (two hours time, but it was worth it). Skill system in P&P is amazingly beautiful and detailed, i'm going to talk about it later.

We should have been four players but we are three now so i invited an old dear friend of mine to replace the missing player and he replied he will be playing with us! I am happy, he was our latest DM in our AD&D 1st ed. group, a veteran of the game. No clues until now about which kind of "class" he will be playing.

Anyhow, i will be writing the adventure here as the story unfolds.


The most spellbinding fantasy rpg's in the history of the hobby

Here we are. After my april fool's day, it is about time to get serious again.

I had never planned to do such a thing, but today the idea came to my mind and i think that, all in all, it is necessary to do such a thing.
It is time to make a definitive list of which are the greatest fantasy rpg's of all time.

To say "great", or "greatest" doesn't really say anything after all, so the right word should be "spellbinding". I could have used "the most enthralling" or "the most mesmerizing", because we are talking about FANTASY here, so what must be sought after is something enchanting, something that has the capability of make us dream, in order to achieve the "Grand Illusion", as Ed Simbalist once wrote down.

What else should we be after? Isn't fantasy something faery-like, the world of dreams and imagination? The world where MAGIC exists?. So we are on a quest to discover the most magical game.

There are fantasy rpg's which better convey all of these sensibilities and feelings, while there are others which are capable to do that only for a brief time, but their inner power soon vanishes.
Why this happens?
Basically, because the system and the rules matters. They cannot be considered pointless in this respect.

"The most spellbinding", "the most enthralling" or "the most mesmerizing".

Hence the name of my blog. The adjective i chose was not an adjective chosen randomly.
I am not going to go into deeper details about the rpg's that i'll cite, though i already know i'll devote time and i'll dedicate several posts to some of these games in the future.

To choose which fantasy rpg to play is a decision of paramount importance. I will cover the period starting from 1974 until here (more or less 1990). The games appeared after 1990 just don't interest me, i consider them to be "modern", albeit i recognize that is not automatic.

I said, choosing which fantasy rpg to play is a very important decision, though most of us became hooked to the hobby by stumbling upon-quite by accident- just on one single game and then getting enamoured of it. After that, we usually don't change our mind.

Curiosity, unsatisfaction, or the desire to delve deeper into the history of the hobby might lead us to discover other games. Doing so, at times we change the previous game for another one.

But looking for the "faery-like" aspect of the various fantasy rpg's is not mandatory, of course.
It is likely that many among us are looking for something else.
As an example, i could never play Pathfinder because to me it doesn't contain anything whatsoever which resembles this facet, though it is true that a good DM could achieve any result regardless of the system he is using.

Without further ado, here is the list. I compiled what i regard as the definitive list of this kind, and as i said i am not going to offer explanations now even though many long-time players will immediately guess and understand what i mean whenever i put a game on the list.

As a last word, there are several fantasy rpg's that won't be in the list albeit i hold them in high esteem. I will cite them perhaps in a future list.




I'm going to burn every fantasy rpg on a pyre, except AD&D

Yesterday evening i took this big decision, i struggled inside me, it was hard but at last i came to the conclusion that this is the wisest choice.

I noticed that my blog doesn't attract anyone, no matters how inspiring my posts might be, i always feel isolated.

I no longer desire to feel lonesome, alone.
I want to feel to be part of a community, it is pointless to write on my blogs about fantasy rpg's no one cares about.
Why should i pretend to be so alternative? But, most of all, i miss the feeling of belonging to a community- after all, if i switch to AD&D as everyone else does, that does not necessarily means that i bow down in front of him, i should not be so proud.

All my previous efforts are futile, in the end AD&D is THE king and all the other fantasy rpg's are just hacks of it.
I don't want to be alone in my quest, i need to join your family, i am coming.
So i am going to "burn" all the other fantasy rpg's on a symbolic pyre and turn towards my new love, OUR true love, the unparalleled AD&D!

Please welcome me brothers, now i belong to the same religion as yours, and i will abide by its rules. I was so wrong.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...