Oh… my… gods…

Risus Monkey has uncovered a lost treasure trove from the hoary mists of time. The very origin of the hobby of fantasy role-playing. An 80 page collection of detailed campaign notes, all neatly typed up (on a real typewriter!) for sending out to the players and other interested persons. RM is to be praised and commended for this find, and also for taking the time to make it available to the hobby at large. It is absolutely incredible. 

This so takes me back. Not that I played in this particular campaign, of course, but the whole tenor and tone of the thing is so spot-on to my earliest memories of the game. It’s eerie.

Especially seeing those lists of character ability scores like that… Just raw numbers, no intricate back story. But is that THE “Rick Loomis” (of Flying Buffalo fame) listed as one of the players (on p. 12) I have to wonder? Did he venture to Michigan to play in this game, perhaps?

The very precise numbers of gold pieces are really a trip, too. We would account for every single GP exactly the same way. The use of the level titles, the wildly variable treasure amounts (162,170 g.p. one week, 16,570 another, and “the group could only carry out 180,720 GP of the dragon’s treasure”). Classic stuff!

You can so easily see the origins of the Judges Guild campaign in these pages, or Greyhawk, or Arduin. This was the field in which we played, and in which those fertile seeds were sown.

This is an absolute treasure-trove of how the game was really played back in its earliest days. Obviously I’ve not had the chance to read closely through all 80 pages, but it will be interesting to do so and compare what we see herein to the various modern theories about what “classic D&D was really like”. I have no doubt that a few favored theories are going to be proven wrong by this material. It is, from my own personal experience, completely typical.

If you have any interest in the origins of the hobby, do yourself the favor and download and read this collection of scans. It is a time machine back to 1975.

Guy likes him some wraiths, though. 🙂

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

8 thoughts on “Rythlondar

  1. I was never this good at record keeping, but things weren't that different from my games circa 1984. Granted a lot of our mojo was stolen from the little snippets we'd get from outside sources (like the Mail Order Hobby Shop catalog or a Dragon magazine we'd read but never have the money to buy at Waldenbooks), so that makes sense…

    When we start up the new game, regardless of the class he ends up being, he's going to be a chronicler of stuff.

  2. I'm "friends" with Rick Loomis on FB. I've posted the question. We'll see if he answers. I think he's at Origins right now…

  3. Rick Loomis got back to me on FB and he says that it's not him. He only played actual D&D once (briefly) at a con in Texas. All his other role playing has been Tunnels and Trolls.

  4. Every time "something like this" comes up, I'm reminded that I'm still a mere newcomer to so many things about both playing and being a GM. I fastidiously write up reams of stuff before the games I run, but I'm terrible at taking notes during.

    With all that said, each time I catch a piece of detail like this, I'd like to think I get just that little bit better. For that, I have to thank you for at least being my facilitator. 🙂

  5. It really is a gem, isn't it. I was floored when one of my players brought it to a game session a couple of weeks back.

    And it is interesting in that some of the terminology that we take for granted still hadn't settled out yet: "Dragons & Dungeons" (rather than reverse), "20-digit die", "degree" (for level).

    Man, I wish that I could organize a weekly or bi-weekly expeditionary-style game like this. Alas, my player pool is a wee-bit too small to give enough cushion to the schedule.

  6. I just realized that this is the same John Van De Graaf that wrote the Expert Set module "The Gem and the Staff" (O1).

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