My Favourite Systems
In memory of Gary Gygax - co-creator of
Dungeons and Dragons
27 July 1938
- 4 March 2008
In memory of Dave Arneson - co-creator of
Dungeons and Dragons
1 October 1947
- 7 April 2009
Thanks for all the great times and good friends your game has given me.
Over the years I have played many roleplaying games in a number of games systems. I have also run many games, though in fewer systems.
I first discovered Dungeons and Dragons at a wargames convention in Hamilton in 1980, about the time I met Chris, Dave and John, three of my oldest gaming buddies. Later that same year, at a wargames convention in Wellington, I discovered Traveller, and then I met the Greenbay crew in Auckland.
During the school holidays in winter '81, John and I worked on local Kiwifruit orchards to raise enough money to buy our own copies of Traveller. To this day, I loath the smell and taste of Kiwifruit but I still have the Little Black Books of Traveller rules I bought over twenty-five years ago.
It was a different age, back in the day. The Internet consisted of a couple of hundred mainframes linking several US universities, and the Apple II was the state-of-the-art home computer - the operating system and the applications were stored on 5 1/4" floppy disks.
New Zealand had been under a conservative government since the mid-seventies and there were all sorts of strange rules for those who wanted to buy anything from overseas. For example, to get toy soldiers or roleplaying gear from the UK, one had to buy British Postal Orders unless one had access to a credit card or could afford a bank cheque. A total of two pounds sterling of postal orders could be bought from a post office per day per individual. But there was nothing to stop the same individual visiting several post offices in a day and buying the six pounds or so of postal orders he wanted.
Sea mail from the UK took three months - who could afford airmail? So, each rule book landed was lovingly looked after, and photocopied relentlessly!
Back in the day, White Dwarf was the one of the premier roleplaying pro-zines - every issue brought great gobs of roleplaying goodness. There were perhaps a dozen amateur 'zines covering any game system you could think off, all laboriously hand-typed and then either off-set printed or photocopied.
The internet probably killed the amateur 'zine, but gave us the webzine, the webpage and the blog. In fact, more fans of a system can access each other, and often the rules writers as well, then ever before.
I haven't seen a new system or setting that has inspired me for quite a while - though I thought Ars Magica was fun, and the 'Window' and 'Fudge' systems were elegant in their simplicity. Mongoose Publishing is set to release a new version of Traveller in 2008, just as Marc Miller releases the long awaited T5. T5 seems to persist with the Task Resolution process that turned me off the successors of Classic Traveller while MongTraveller looks like a tidied up version of Classic Traveller from the playtest documents I have seen.
The sudden flurry of Traveller material has got me interested in reviving my old campaign, which will be the first time I've run something in a decade, so that, at least, is a good thing.