Though it no longer exists, the gaming company known as TSR, Inc., will always be associated with Dungeons & Dragons. However, TSR published a lot more tabletop roleplaying games than D&D. The science fiction game Star Frontiers to this day has a strong fan base, and the game Gamma World continues to find some love. That being said, many of TSR’s other RPGs tend to have been forgotten by a wider audience though they might still have a community of followers.
Such a game is Gangbusters.
Designed by Rick Krebs and originally published in 1982, Gangbusters takes place in the America of the 1920s and 1930s in the fictional Lakefront City. This is a game of cops and robbers, of gangsters and crime lords and Tommy guns. Historical figures such as Al Capone or Pretty Boy Floyd might make an appearance along with fictional characters like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, but players also have the opportunity to play the bad guys. Or they can play the good guys and join the side of the law. Or they can be something in between, like a newspaper reporter or photographer.
The original version of Gangbusters included multiple maps, two ten-sided die, and a 64-page book of rules. Today 64 pages might not seem like much for a rules book, but Gangbusters had plenty of information packed into those pages.
Some months ago I wrote about Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain, the 1982 video game by Mattel for the Intellivision home gaming console, so it only seemed right I also come up with an article about the followup game, 1983’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin.
Right off the bat, Treasure of Tarminis graphically a massively different game than Cloudy Mountain. For one thing, most of the action is in a three-dimensional, first-person view of the various mazes the player’s character must traverse; while this wasn’t the first video game to offer first-person action (that game would be 1972’s Maze War), this viewpoint was rare at the time for video games and, looking back, seems almost an impossibility for the limits of a home console during that era. So, visually, Treasure of Tarmin offered something not quite unique but almost so to the kids sitting at home tapping away on their Intellivision controllers.
More than just graphics, however, Treasure of Tarmin offered a depth and complexity of gameplay that was not common at the time, and again was something not generally thought of as possible for a home console of that period.
Throughout the 1970s and very early 1980s, Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) was a company known for its board war games. Then in 1980 it took a stab at the growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons and other popular tabletop role-playing games. SPI came up with a different style of fantasy RPG known as DragonQuest(DQ), published in a boxed set with multiple books.
Eventually there would be three versions of DQ. SPI published a second edition in 1982 in a single book, but soon after the company was purchased by TSR, the developers of D&D. Eventually in 1989 TSR would produce the final, third edition of DQ, this one also in a single book, but since then they have done next to nothing with the property though they did release a few gaming modules for the system. Fortunately a few other companies also released DQ-related material and to this day there is a somewhat active DQcommunity online. As for the three versions of the game, they are pretty much compatible with few differences between them, especially between the second and third editions.
Created by Eric Goldberg, later known for his role in the publication of the tabletop RPG Paranoiaand numerous other games both at the table and online, DragonQuest separated itself from D&D and its imitators by not focusing so much upon a class system for character creation and advancement. Instead, characters in DQ were mostly based upon growth in skill rankings.
I hadn’t been reading webcomics for a bit, so I went back to Webtoons.com and skimmed through their fantasy section. I had previously enjoyed (and blogged about them here) Elf and Warrior and Cyko-KO. This time, I ran across Newman and immediately loved it.
The starting point for this document was The Art of Magic: The Gathering—Innistrad. Consider that book to be a useful resource in creating your Innistrad campaign, but not strictly necessary. An abundance of lore about Innistrad can be found on the Magic web-site. This document is designed to help you turn the book’s adventure hooks and story seeds into a resource for your campaign with a minimum of changes to the fifth edition D&D rules.
It’s hard to determine where the snake’s head begins and its tail ends here: Innistrad was MtG’s version of D&D’s Ravenloft, which itself has gone through umpteen editions, the most recent being WotC’s Curse of Strahd hardback; and Plane Shift: Innistrad contains suggestions for moving the action of Curse of Strahd from Barovia to Innistrad.
Finally! A market for my Drizzt/Wulfgar slash adventure where the heroes discover the greatest treasure of all: love.
Wizards of the Coast has just announced the “Dungeon Masters Guild,” an e-publishing site for self-publishing D&D adventures and other content set in the Forgotten Realms. … The Dungeon Masters Guild seems similar to Amazon’s Kindle Worlds — a way that creators can be permitted to use licensed intellectual property and at the same time make a little money on it. In this case, the intellectual property is D&D‘s venerable Forgotten Realms setting. There are just a few restrictions on these adventures. The main restriction is that they must use the 5th Edition D&D rule set. Apart from that, they’re about what you’d expect — no offensive or pornographic material, no copyright or trademark violations, and nothing libelous.
Writers receive a 50-percent royalty, less than Amazon’s 70 percent yet recalling an earlier age when publishers regarded writers as partners and not grovelling slaves (halfsies was the same cut Melville received for Moby-Dick). The rest of the money is split between WotC and OneBookshelf, which runs the Dungeon Masters Guild site. Full story here.
Dungeons & Dragons has to be the most mismanaged IP in existence; its history is one long sitcom of bungling and idiocy. As the article points out, TSR spent much of the mid-90s sticking its fingers in the holes of the Internet spaghetti drainer, even going so far as to claim copyright over out-of-the-barn horses like “armor class” and “hit points.” It’s good to see WotC, in anno Domini 2016, finally join ’em instead of trying to beat ’em, even if they, like most publishers, continue to be the last across the innovation finish line.