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.


Feeria (1996)

In a fantasy world, the children of the gods fought a titanic battle for dominance and survival.
In Feeria you will be a Son of Light or mighty hero of humans trying to survive in a world full of dangers while seeking ways to destroy once and for all the intrigues of the Dark.
Feeria includes rules for creating countless characters, with more than ten faerie races and many races as well as everything you need to play the first adventure after reading the rules.






Sword's path: glory (book I, 1982)


Well, "Sword's path: glory" is likely the most convoluted and math-heavy fantasy combat system ever developed, but i may be proven wrong since i have never read "The Riddle of steel", for instance.

Is it playable, after all? I don't know, but there surely are players willing to revel in this kind of difficult rule-systems. Unfortunately, i never really managed to get copies of the second book- and given that even on NK website it isn't available, i suppose my chances are very small.

And yes, i would definitely play this, had i the time and patience nowadays to absorb the rules.
It is no secret that i adore complicated fantasy rpg systems, and i'm sure that my acquaintance with Powers & Perils could help me a lot to comprehend this system.



Reich star (1991)

"In an alternate universe, history took a terrifying turn for the worse during World War II, with the Axis Powers conquering the globe. Nearly 200 years later the '"Third Reich" and the "Empire of Nippon" have spread their reach to off-world colonies far beyond our Solar System, enslaving the technologically inferior alien species they have so far encountered, and maneuvering their might against each other in an ever threatening Cold War. In the midst of this darkness many resistance groups have emerged to fight against the Nazi tyranny. The player characters belong to one of these groups, and fight to overthrow the Third Reich and restore freedom and democracy to Erde and her colonies."

Text taken from Wikipedia


Bifrost part V - Magic

Magic in Bifrost rpg is extremely fascinating. At least, if you are spellbound by magic system such as those found in Chivalry & Sorcery rpg for instance, where the task is to try to capture the feeling of "real" medieval magick with all the convoluted tables and esoteric calculations. magic1







Bifrost part IV - Combat

 This is a summary of the combat tables in Bifrost rpg.

If you are still uncertain what we are talking about here, the game in question is an old fantasy rpg published in 1977 and very hard to find. See this link on rpggeek for info.

Furthering my quest of disseminating these obscure rpgs, i leave the images here.

bifrostcombat1 bifrostcombat2 bifrostcombat3

Bifrost part III - Religion

Bifrost Religion


Old fantasy role-playing games available in 2014 - The complete list

When i read this today, it occurred to me that many osr devotees may be unaware of the existence of old games that are still available nowadays.

So, here is a succinct list of old fantasy role-playing games that anyone can still find on the web (sometimes free of charge), and that one can consequently play at his/her own pace.

Far from being a quixotic goal, there are still plenty old fantasy games floating on the web, in their full or almost complete form. Often what you need to do is just to download them and play.


ARDUIN (revised edition of "The Arduin trilogy"): (link)

[The Compleat Arduin avalable for free here]


BEASTS, MEN & GODS: (link)


PHANTASY CONCLAVE: (link) [available as a new, revised edition under a different name]




YSGARTH: (link)

I purposedly omitted from the list:

Heroes (just because it is more historical than it is a fantasy game, nevertheless the new edition is here)

Vikings & Valkyrs (not cited because it is still a work in progress, though you can read several original pages here. And by the way, this is a fantasy game, not an historical one. I read it, trust me).

With this list i hope to offer a service to OSR newcomers and to anyone who may have missed some of the links above.

No excuses...instead of buying a new osr clone or simulacrum, history awaits!
It is a click away.

Goodies i got in the mail today


Bifrost (1977) - part I

An altogether more comprehensive RPG than T & T or others. This RPG was published in four volumes over easily as many years and has long been out of print. It tries to be more realistic (if one can have realistic fantasy) with more than a nod to 'proper' wargaming. There are signs of interest again in this RPG as people rediscover it and realise that its adult approach chimes with the more mature fantasy now being written, e.g. Game of Thrones and the Malazan series.

Bifrost is a complex RPG system dating from the late 70s and has a distinctly British (or even more parochially, English) feel to it. Whilst it is a serious game there's an understated humour that underlines it.

The authors of the original three volumes - Faerie, Combat and Magic were G.Highley, S. Johnson, K. Minear and K.White and little more is known about them.

After many years of being moribund there seems to be a few signs of life with a number of devotees of old forgotten RPGs (and Bifrost certainly falls into those categories) seeking the books.



And AD&D at last!


And at last i am playing ad&d 1st edition in the ravenloft setting.
In fact, my players were transported to the land of mists due to them owning the terrible tome of darkness, and that item attracted the attention of the dark powers.
Who could have imagined that i would end up doing that?
So no more powers & perils at least for now. And on my blog there will appear posts concerning Advanced d&d. In other words, i'll be compelled to perform blasphemous deeds.

It will be a very house-ruled version.

First of all, as i said, we are playing Ravenloft using 1st edition AD&D rules and i don't honestly know if this works smoothly considering this setting was created with 2nd edition in mind.

As for the rules, we'll be using the alternative combat system as detailed in the "Proportional combat system"(link), so no segments and the like.

As for proficiencies, i am considering using the alternative method as specified in Dragon magazine #225 (link) which seems more logical to me.

The magician in my group of players is being instructed by me about the spell-point system as found in "Spells & Magic" supplement for 2nd edition, because i have always disliked the "throw and forget" official method devised by Jack Vance and subsequently used in most of the campaigns. Besides, i have always deemed it to be superior to the traditional method.

Also, magicians can wear any kind of armor provided they are willing to suffer these penalties (link).

All in all, i enjoy immensely Ravenloft and when we are immersed in this setting i end up not paying so much attention at the rules because the setting is so absorbing and fascinating.

The main reason i switched to AD&D is because it was too painful to try to convert old TSR modules to Powers & Perils rules, and the fact is that i do want to play those modules.

As time passes, i realize more and more that i'll never be able to play al the fantasy games that were published in the history of the hobby, time is tyrant and that is just not possible (provided that i could learn all those different rule-systems). I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to play such a niche game as Powers & Perils for more than two years with five regular players. These are experiences that i'm going to treasure and cherish.

But now i am in AD&D, Ravenloft, and i cannot linger on those memories any more.

Recently i started to buy old MERP modules, and i am developing a tremendous desire to play it- my players as well- so who knows where this blog is heading in the future... but one thing is certain, i still consider myself a collector and the main goal of this blog has not changed.

Recently, i received a couple of e-mails and messages asking me help to obtain information about "obscure" old fantasy role-playing games such as The Compleat Warlock or SOF and even modules (PCS), and it is when i fulfill these kind of requests that i feel i accomplished something lasting for the hobby.

So, i find myself among the multitude of AD&D players now, but don't get cheated by the mask i am wearing.


Vardy combat system (pdf format)


Thanks to one of the readers of this blog- and meanwhile we wait for more information on the "Proportional combat system", here is the link for an easy-to-read version of another forgotten alternative system for D&D (about which i already spoke in the past), the "Vardy combat system".




Proportional combat system (1986)

Even among the most Advanced Dungeons & Dragons fanatics scattered around the globe, only a few are aware of the existence of this alternative combat systen for AD&D that was published in 1986.

 At last, i managed to obtain a copy, and it is odd that it is this blogger who eventually has the burden of unveiling this super-rare item to OSR enthusiasts.

Stay tuned while i dive into this forsaken piece of history.

The premises are quite interesting, that i must admit: the authors argue that this system will change the way AD&D is played.

The point is that this 14 page booklet is something new and never-before-seen in the field of AD&D study and analysis, and precisely in this lies its value.

How many in the eighties adopted this alternative combat rules, and more importantly why? The authors' claims are sound? Is this really a better system than the one devised by Gigax?

If one is sick and tired of always reading the same old threads on forums such as Dragonsfoot, here is a one-of-a-kind AD&D item that has resurfaced, for them to ponder. Just when you thought you knew everything about the most famous ever fantasy rpg. As i said, i will read this and tell you, my dear readers.

We'll make this voyage together.

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