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Great to see the old PTGPTB being dusted off and back on-line. To make sure it stays that way I will start bulling my fellow geeks into to submitting articles. Or better yet submit one myself.

I agree totally, absolutely and completely with Alex Loke and his article on D&D vs World of Warcraft. I have had a similar argument with some moron whose name I can't be bothered to remember about this and my alignment is more or less the same — although I think I'm more lawful and Alex, Chaotic! Computer generated gaming of any kind — and yes that includes Baldur's Gate, Torment, Fallout, Ultima and all the rest — will never be the same as table top gaming for one very good reason. Imagination.

In any RPG style computer game you are limited by the usual RPG style rules, however you are also limited by the parameters set by the designers. In some cases — most notably Planescape: Torment and Fable —The designers have insured that there are enough avenues and paths to travel down to make the gaming experience thoroughly enjoyable, however there are still parameters. You have the selective choice of little dialogues to choose from, there is very little in the way of in-party interaction beyond the mouse clicking —Although I will confess Baldur's Gate II and Planescape:Torment handle this bit admirably —and there are the cases of games being either limited to a very selective path or being so big and expansive —the original Baldur's Gate comes to mind —that the original path becomes scattered and blurred. Also adding RPG rules to computers can at times be very annoying —The attack of opportunity in Pools of Radiance and Icewind Dale II —and make the game unwieldy.

In normal RPG you are limited by the usual rules plus any you've made up along the way, the company you keep and the limitations of ones mind. To quote Alex ' D&D isn't nearly as predictable' and he is bang on the money. In word of Warcraft you see the guy, you click feverishly with your mouse and assuming you win, take the poor guys loot and leave an insult in the message screen. In table top or heaven forbid LARP, you can as Alex says 'wear his remains as a fancy hat' give gory details as to how you engage and dispatch your opponent. Improvise dammit all! And this leads me to another thing. Character.

In Alex's article he states that gamers are at least embarrassed enough to call what they do improvised theatre. This is partially true. Not because of embarrassment —I am proud of my inner Geek and answer the "do I play D&D" question with and honest "yes!" — but because IT IS improvised theatre. You are taking upon the part of some fictional character. This character has his own background, temperament, loves, hates. Yes you can be as boring as hell but you also have the opportunity to create a character that is quite in depth. I somehow doubt that this is possible in World of Warcraft.

I could go on forever about all the cool things I have done and emulated through the characters I have played. The even cooler, sometimes eccentric, sometimes scary flesh-and-blood people that I've met and gamed with or have not gamed with but have met via my aquiantances with gamers. I think of the friendships, the occasional betrayals, edge of your seat dice rolling and the fact that I'm blessed with the opportunity to sit around face to face with some of the best friends and craziest people I have met, sharing old stories, bitching about work, consuming way too much coke and extra cheesey pizzas than humanly possible and cheering or oooing our comrades as we make fools of ourselves and talk bullshit. Beat that Blizzard!
Richard 'Dwarfman' Smith Tue Dec 12 2006

I'd like to read about RPGs as educational 'tools' in informal educational settings like 'free schools', but if that doesn't happen, I'll just dream.
Charles Williams

Does this raise anybody’s will to write us an article on this? ;-) -Eds

Impressive page, really; many comments and articles of fine taste and use. And very critical about being a rolepayer, that I like the most. Keep up the good work.
Jaimé Cuéllar


  • Neat & fun reading pages.
  • Thanks for being here.
  • Looking good, keep it coming.
  • Your articles look great ! Thanks for the nice job !!
  • Excellent job :-)
  • Nice site!
  • Really looking forward to catching up with the back issues — one of the joys of discovering something late!

The crowd


Found your site while gathering information on the history of RPGs for a paper. I'll give you 3 guesses what articles I found to be very helpful, and ill give ya a hint, they all begin with "A History of Role-Pla"...

Keep up the good work.

This one wasn’t easy. We’ll put it in a special “Riddle and enigmas” issue ;-) —Eds

Love your article on the history of RPG. I am rather new to the genre, and I find it all very fascinating! Recently downloaded Swashbucklers from SJ games and I am playing catch up with the old TSR stuff. Thanks for the great Info!
David Foster

Well I guess it’s a funny idea to start with old stuff from TSR… Would you buy a computer from the 70s, or rather a brand new one? —Eds

Always interested in gaming info; I don't think any GM or player can be good enough at his or her chosen craft not to benefit from advice, insights or just some stories from other people's gaming tables.

I may even submit some stuff. But I think I’ll need to re-read your subscription guidelines first... er, if you even allow that... to be honest I have no real idea of where I am or what I'm doing right now...

I used to play WFRP, but I don't like the idea\look of the Black Library "Buy a million extra sourcebooks!" version. Also, Games Workshop has done some pretty bad things with the Warhammer world since WFRP came out (my opinion).

Regarding submissions and “don’t know what to write”-s, here are a few suggestions. Most of our articles could be classed into 9 categories:

  1. nostalgia-like articles labelled "once upon a time"
  2. funny humorous articles like "Dr. Rotwang -vs- The Mole People of Venus" or "Seether..." —often (always) related to the subculture
  3. advice for GMs on GMing, or for players
  4. "splenetics", debate...
  5. articles about the simulation of reality aspects such as "the importance of food", "matriarchy" or "L&O in imaginary realms")
  6. articles on RPG "experiences" or "spin-offs", such as mail-RPG , collaborative roleplaying, ...
  7. articles on the state of RPG in society ("RPG & the Christian right", "the history of RPG", "the disappearance of Egbert"...)
  8. articles on games theory
  9. scenarios different from mainstream adventures
  10. you may want to fit into one of these categories :-)

Besides, here's a list of things I like to read, that usually are amusing, both to write and to read, and they even give room for reflection:

  • which RPG sessions do you still remember, even years ago? Why?
  • What's your best recollection of a game you ran? Share with us the secrets that made it so great.
  • Describe the worst GM you met. We've much to learn from other's mistakes.
  • What was your most novel adventure, and how did it turn out?
  • I guess now you have a idea of what kind of submissions we're looking for, and that’s pretty vast! :-)

Thank you for your proposals, submitters! And we hope this inspires you and we'll read texts from you soon ;-)

Regarding Warhammer, you don't have to buy every sourcebook, do you? Just buy those with good reviews, and create your own universe. Editor's decisions regarding the evolution of the universe are just their choices. Decide what YOUR Warhammer world is, and be lauded by your players! :-)

I love your history, i used it as the base of my research paper and it makes me fill so young because i started playing only 4 years ago.

Well, it started out as just how to open a game store, and then i figered that you need to know about the history of RPGs inorder to sell them so i did a google serch and found your site. so at the moment i have 6 pages done and am working on it. most of my information alredy has come from your site, i have cited all refrences and hope to get a good grade on it. i will be glad to send a copy when i'm bone if you would like.

Linked to the history of RPGs from Gamebanshee.  I loved the history because I have been playing D&D and various others since '82.  It was a good walk down memory lane.  Thanks.
David Seratte

I'm thoroughly enjoying the multi-part article on The History of Roleplaying. It's bringing back many memmories of those early years for me (I began playing in 1977). I also find that, in large measure, the articles are well written, balanced, and giving credit appropriately to the game systems that helped shape the hobby along the way.

I have only finished reading parts I —IV so far but am looking forward to the rest of it. As I look back on those very special years of 1977 —1986, when gaming really grew quickly, a few thoughts came to mind that I wanted to share. I don't know if the authors would agree with these points but these are my perceptions from someone who was there during the late infancy to the early goldern years of gaming:

  • A minor quibble, but from my recollection, T&T did not become entirely obscure until the late 80s, not the early 80s as the article mentions. T&T managed to stay alive and competitive by being the first roleplaying system to introduce the solitaire adventure. This allowed a player the opportunity to scratch their gaming itch even when there was no-one else around to play a game with. T&Ts simplistic rules system was well-suited to the solo adventure format and Flying Buffalo would go on to produce solo adventures well into the 80s. I totally agree that T&T was the only roleplaying system to ever, however briefly, rival D&D, and that after that T&T would fall to a permanent 2nd place status, but I do believe its influence was felt well into the 80s.
  • Another minor quibble: I fully agree with virtually everything mentioned about Traveller, including the remarkable success it experienced from almost day 1. Even I gave in to temptation and bought the boxed set when it first came out —that "Mayday! Mayday!" packaging was very effective. Having said all of this, my recollection is that RuneQuest had a bigger impact on the history of gaming vis-a-vis the rise of a skill based system than Traveller did. Part of this is due to the fact that back then there was a sizable number of gamers who would not buy Traveller simply because it was sci-fi based and they were only interested in the fantasy genre. Traveller came out with skills first, but RuneQuest's use of them would have a far bigger impact.
  • In the discussions about BADD and the anti-gaming forces, I don't believe the article made it entirely clear where these people were coming from. They weren't just concerned parents like we see from MADD (Mother's Against Drunk Driving). The primary source for opposition to gaming came from (and to a large extent, still comes from) the religious right. To some in this group, the game is equated with devil worship and to a non-correlative belief that gaming in some way can warp one's mind into murderous and anti-Christian ways. I know the article provides links to further background material on this subject but I also feel that this point should have been made as objectively as possible – the anti-gaming forces come from the religious right.
  • There was one major omission to parts I —IV that surprised me. In discussing the influence of different games during the early years, no mention of Judges Guild was ever made. While JG itself did not make any new rules systems themselves, they were the first stand alone company that managed to survive simply by making supportive products for existing systems. I grant you that some of JG's products were of questionable quality, but once in awhile, they did put out a masterpiece or two, such as "Caverns of Thracia" and "Dark Tower." In addition to supporting D&D until TSR got pissy with their trademark rights, JG also put out products for T&T, RuneQuest, Traveller, and some of the early superhero games. Along the way, they published a number of magazines with "The Dungeoneer" and the "Judges Guild Journal" eventually merging into "Pegasus." I don't believe that the period of 1977 —1986 can truly be complete without at least a nod to JG and their impact.

Anyway, thanks for reading this and for your article. It's been fun.
Brian Hammond

Thanks so much for reading my history in such depth, and providing such a detailed reply.  It's especially flattering that you enjoyed them, given that I started roleplaying in 1994!  I can only make an effort to reply in kind:

  • T&T did not become entirely obscure until the late 80s,
    This is perhaps an definitional issue; you are certainly correct that T&T kept publishing and remained a fan favourite until the late 80s.  I may have overplayed their fading from the spotlight in my text, or simply got my dates wrong in my research.
  • On RuneQuest's bigger impact than Traveller, I would say this is probably correct also; I was trying to focus more on Traveller's impact as a whole in that section.
  • In the discussions about BADD and the anti-gaming forces, They weren't just concerned parents ... The primary source for opposition to gaming came from (and to a large extent, still comes from) the religious right.
    The article was a history; historically it was Pat Pulling who created BADD and fueled the movements against roleplaying.  That her cause was taken up by the religious right is no surprise, and they certainly had both more presence and sustainability than Ms Pulling on her own, but I think it is a mis-characterisation to call it a religious objection.

    Or rather, the religious right will attach itself to anything in the news that can be characterised as dangerous and vaguely supernatural.  I guess what I'm saying is the article tried to provide a chronology in that section, rather than an analysis of the source and nature of the cultural attacks.  There was always much more I wanted to say, much more that could be said, but there was so little time and space!
  • no mention of Judges Guild was ever made.
    That's a fair cop.  Since it is now ten years since I wrote the early parts of this, I cannot recall if they simply fell out of my analysis due to space considerations, historical judgement or simple forgetfulness.

    As I always like to say in these situations – perhaps you'd care to correct me with a brief article on them, their successes and their impact?

Thanks again for your kind words,
Steve Darlington

Dear Complete Idiots, [ Regarding AD&D is a tool of Satan] whom ever wrote that article has, obviously, not played AD&D in last 10 years or he/she is just a complete idiot.

Dear James, you first assumption is correct: as you may have noticed, this article was written in February 1998, so it is outdated. There is also more than a little bit of satire ;-)

So this article didn't foresee the D20 bubble; we don't know if the author saw his worst fears come true : CoC D20, Star Wars D20, ... RPGs changing their rules to D20, forcing their fans to buy new rulebooks, then changing back to their original systems when the trend reversed... Not to mention the mindset D&D3 implies: the quest for loopholes, or the best combinations through the buying of sourcebooks.

Another prediction of the author —the shrivelling up of creativity of RPG —did not happen either: there are more and more great interesting and original indie games available. So frankly, we hope the author has not played AD&D in the last 10 years (or he's just a complete idiot). — Eds

Does this magazine still exist and are new issues forthcoming...?
Bruce Sponagle

No! We told you to submit for us to survive! And now we’re dead! — Eds

Your comments encourage authors and editors alike. Please keep them coming in!

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