Monday, 1 August 2011

Return To RPGs I: Back To Mystara

Currently I am hurtling toward 40 years old with all the grace of an enraged warthog. Time for a mid-life crisis I thought, get a fancy red car and a younger wife. The problem being I am unable to drive, due to not knowing how,  and already have a younger wife.

Then I realised I was already having my crisis and it started over a year ago. I was returning to my youth by rediscovering the joy of roleplaying games. Something I had been thinking about for years.  I thought back to my first RPG and came up with this:

[caption id="attachment_544" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="D&D Basic Set (Source The Acaeum"]D&D Basic Set (Source The Acaeum[/caption]

Then I thought. No. That's not right it goes back further. Join me if you like. Or not.

The Warlock

Here is where it started.

[caption id="attachment_553" align="aligncenter" width="184" caption="Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain ("]Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain ([/caption]

This was where it all began.  This book originall came out in 1982.  Which would have made me 10, primary 5. It was advertised in one of the book club catalogues that came round the classrooms. As an aside the first book I can remember buying from one of these was about dinosaurs, how geek is that? Anyway this catalogue was doing the rounds and I thought;
"Oh great, a fantasy novel! Fab! I must have this."

I got it and fell in love with the nameless adventurer (his name was mine) and the perils of the mountain. I was expecting something along the lines of a standard novel with maybe a few branch points. What I got was so much more. Before I knew it was wasting squared graph paper at a rapid rate of knots trying to solve the maze. I followed the Fighting Fantasy series until Beneath Nightmare Castle.

The problem was I knew I wanted more I just did not know what.

Then I discovered I could find more adventure via a magazine called Proteus.
Format-wise the magazine was essentially a few pages of adverts from the usual suspects wrapped around the adventure. It was always quite heavy on the artwork, and unlike the FF or Lone Wolf books, used a lot of artists within one issue. This tended to give a disjointed and inconsistent feel to the illustrations. It also did the FF/LW thing of incorporating a lot of page furniture artworks (a lot of which were re-used across issues) probably to enable the page count to be bulked up "on the cheap." The covers were unfortunately quite flimsy and so none of my copies survived whereas contempory-purchased White Dwarfs did. (

I loved it too. I especially liked to look of this advert that seemed to be on the back page of every issue I ever read;

[caption id="attachment_550" align="aligncenter" width="211" caption="Proteus 11, Back Ad ("]Proteus 11, Back Ad ([/caption]


I had no idea what this was. It would be years before I saw Mazes and Monsters (lack of link here intentional) otherwise possibly my life could have been quite different. What I did know was that I wanted it. According to Wikipedia this came out in 1983. I think I got it as a birthday present some years later. No local shops sold such a thing my mum must have purchased it with the magic of mail order. My box came with a dice crayon which means it was before 1989. I still have my first ever d20, as filled in by that crayon.

I opened the box excitedly on that fateful day and within a players guide, a dungeon masters guide and some kind of solo adventure. I was confused. What was that all about?

I began to read. Then from that point on for the next several years my social life became increasingly focused.

I became a Dungeon Master.

Next: Adventures In Idiocy and Fat Club.



Links (Monsters and Mazes)

1 comment:

  1. I know I have not mentioned Mystara. I was expecting to get a bit more written :)