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The Joy of Unpacking: Episode 5

By April 18, 2017Boardgames, Videos

Forgetting’s not something you do, it happens to you. Only it didn’t happen to me.

In the last Joy of Unpacking, the EOG looks back at some great old roleplaying games.

It all began with roleplaying games. I was lucky enough to be just the right age when the golden age of RPGs was kicking off and in full swing; when every week saw the release of an exciting new set of rules for adventuring in the distant lands of the imagination. They were heady days – literally.

For me it started with a photocopy of Empire of the Petal Throne and the first Dungeons & Dragons basic set (the 1977 J. Eric Holmes version), but everyone has those games that first opened their mind to the endless possibilities of gaming. Here are some of those old favourites (plus an original copy of GW’s Rogue Trader).

A slight correction/clarification: the Monster Manual was the first AD&D hardback release, in 1977, followed by the Players Handbook in 1978 and finally the Dungeon Masters Guide in 1979.

That’s it for the unpacking series, except for a later look at the final shelves of my office/game room when I finally have it all set up to my liking. I’ve received some fantastic feedback on this series of videos, and it’s clear to me that a lot of you have enjoyed looking back at these old games as much as I did. Thanks for watching, fellow members of the Esoteric Order of Gamers!

10 Comments

  • briscoe999 says:

    Really Great stuff UH!! After watching this video, I felt like I was 10-12 years old again!! I also cut my teeth on RPG’s in the late 70’s/early 80’s before i got big into boardgames.

  • The8thPagan says:

    I’ve still got that hardback edition of Cthulhu and although I sold my box set books, I kept the map from it… can’t throw away maps with tentacles on them…

    I sold a lot of Iron Crown Role Master supplements during the early 90’s when I had a period of unemployment… now that was a setting ill suited to Middle Earth with the high magic of the rules. I still have a weathered box of MERP though and the campaign map.

    Indiana Jones I never managed to get hold of, but a couple of years ago I bought James Bond RPG and Gangbusters from eBay. Not classics, but games I never had a chance to look at back in the day.

    Didn’t get into D&D until I was 18, so my oldest rules set is AD&D and I still have the core books. Picked up Dark Sun Campaign box set at an expo a few years back. Interesting setting that I was drawn into by the fiction. Probably the most obscure setting book I have for it is the ‘Snarfquest RPG Worldbook’… very funny comic strip that continues in Knights of the Dinner Table now.

    My biggest obsession in RPG has to be Star Wars. I have the original West End Games (handfuls of d6) core books and the second edition plus several supplements. Also have the Revised d20 version with the Vitality & Wounds system which I still prefer to the terrible Hit Points of D&D.

    Ooops… long post… I’ll shut up now…

    • No need to shut up, I like hearing about other people’s collections.

      TSR went on to do lots of other things after I lost interest in AD&D and moved on to WFRP, though by then – Dragonlance and onwards – I felt their worlds were too twee and ‘American’ for me. I don’t mean the latter as an insult, it just wasn’t my style; I preferred the gritty, olde worlde feel of English and European fantasy worlds.

      You know, Star Wars is fine and all that, but it’s never been a big thing for me the way it has for so many of my generation. It’s all too clean good guy/bad guy. I’m sure there were more interesting things going on in the ‘extended universe’ of the books that I never discovered, but in general it’s a ‘space opera’ style that has never excited me a whole lot.

  • The8thPagan says:

    WFRP is another setting I really like. Used to have the rules, but again they went in part-ex during my unemployed years.

    WFRP is certainly more gritty than AD&D for the most part, but Dark Sun was more ‘grey shaded’ world.

    As for Star Wars… it must have hit me at a time when I was receptive to it and I still enjoy watching the movies. Rogue One is less black and white than the Skywalker movies. I’ve read a long of the ‘extended universe’ and that’s still fairly black and white, but there are some good books in there, particularly those dealing smuggler and ‘scoundrels’.

    I own the Serenity rules, but won’t run that for a couple of reasons… not fond of the dice mechanics to be honest, but the major one is only one of my players has seen the series, so they won’t get the setting… and I’m not convinced I could run it well.

    Similar thing with Babylon 5… I have two rule sets and enjoyed the series, but only one player knows the setting, so like Firefly/Serenity… it’ll just be another science fiction setting to them.

    • Don’t get me started on Rogue One. One of the worst films I’ve seen in years. I almost walked out it was so bad! Amateurish, poorly scripted, Frankensteined-together-in-editing-and-computers crap that disregards the most basic rules of good storytelling.

      In my opinion. 🙂

      I don’t think I’ve roleplayed in a sci-fi setting since Star Frontiers. Oh, I did run one session of the Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG; it was OK.

  • The8thPagan says:

    I went a bit nuts with the FFG Star Wars and bought too much stuff. Sadly, like many RPG’s, they break at a certain point and FFG hits that early. My Edge campaign stalled and was abandoned.

    Tried a reboot with Rebellion setting and that failed to get any momentum.

    I get my Star Wars fix with Imperial Assault now.

    • RPGs need a lot of support, and being time-poor, I need a supply of good adventures. Shadows of the Demon Lord started well in this regard with small, digestible adventures, but lately they’ve been drying up and the ones they do release are repeating themes and not lending themselves well to being linked together. The game really needs a campaign book of linked adventures; Tales of the Demon Lord was OK but became a mish-mash of stuff as it went on.

  • The8thPagan says:

    Have you played Shadow of the Demon Lord much? I’ve got a copy in the post and it seems that the campaigns are a bit naff… basically just 11 unrelated adventures with a bit of common geography as home base.

    There’s a pirate one… Queen of Gold: Tales of the Pirate Isles… they seems to have linked adventures, but it’s $10 for a 36 page pdf which seems a lot… and I want to try the system before I spend more (you need the Demon Lord’s Compendium to run it).

    Not sure I want the game to be quite so lethal as it seems, so I might crank the ‘Demon Lord’ dial back a bit.

    What are you experiences of the game? How lethal was it?

    • I have played it quite a bit, and I agree with you that the adventure material lets the game down a bit. The system itself is excellent, works well, and doesn’t get in the way of storytelling, but it’s definitely past time for them to start publishing some longer and better adventures and campaigns. They crank out a lot of little ones, but they vary widely in style and quality and don’t string together very well.

      That Queen of Gold one is new and I haven’t read it yet; I’ll check it out.

      I used to play WFRP and this game scratches that itch for me, with a simpler rules system. As for lethality, I’ve always found that in the hands of the GM. It’s easy to tweak things to match your play style, and as GM I rarely kill off characters in my campaigns – I just punish them in other ways! 🙂

What do you think?