Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: W is for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

This post has been updated since it was originally published on April 26, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

Here is one more game that I owned but never played.  I got it hoping that I could add on to the A/D&D material - races, classes, etc. - that we used during play.  I got it and at first flip through I was somewhat disappointed because the material did not readily lend itself to immediate use within the A/D&D rules.  In other words, to be used the material would have to be converted from one rule system to the other.  Plus, there was some resistance against learning another new rule set at that time among members of the gaming group.  I put WFRP away for years and never did get around to running or playing in even one single session of the game.  I wonder what it would have been like. 

I got rid of the original Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rulebook in one of my game purges over the years. I did the same thing with 2nd edition, and I never did get an opportunity to play either one.  I skipped 3rd edition because of the semi-board game setup.  There are now two options available to scratch your Warhammer Fantasy itch.  You can get a retro-clone known as Zweihander RPG or buy the official 4th Edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Note: This post will be my last post in the 10-year update series.  My original X, Y, and Z posts were filler, and I was never happy with them.  I considered replacing these three posts with completely new posts, but I felt that went against the idea of updating the old posts.  Rather than piling more filler upon more filler I am stopping with the updates on the W entry.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: V is for Villains & Vigilantes

This post has been slightly altered since it was originally published on April 25th, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

Villains & Vigilantes

Villains & Vigilantes 2nd edition is a game of several firsts for me:

  • V&V was my first non-A/D&D rpg purchase.
  • V&V was the first supers role-playing game that I ever bought.
  • V&V was the first game I bought at a convention.  It was Conjuration I in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  My uncle David - the one who passed down his A/D&D stuff to me - took me with him.
  • V&V was the first rpg we played that had a continuing campaign with recurring characters and an evolving time; EVERY game of V&V we played was somehow connected together through characters, organizations, or some other connection.
Other super games were played by our group over the years but none of them had the staying power of V&V.  Marvel caught quite a bit of play but not nearly to the level of V&V.  Marvel did not really pick up until the Advanced set was released.  Heroes Unlimited was played a little bit but the class and level system did not match our expectations of the genre.  DC Heroes looked interesting but was a little beyond our young minds at the moment.  Champions offered excruciating detail and options but often felt like work instead of play.  GURPS Supers just really never got out of the gate because most of the group did not want to mess with "all those GURPS books".  V&V was our go to super game.  I still have my battered copy of the second edition rule book.  V&V is now back in the hands of Jeff Dee and Jack Herman and they have released version 2.1 of the rules.  I know that V&V 3rd edition is being developed now and I wonder if 2.1 is worth snagging or if I should just wait for 3rd edition?

For anyone interested, Monkey House Games has the following Villains & Vigilantes products available on lulu:

V&V 1.0 - softcover

V&V 2.1 - softcover

Mighty Protectors (V&V 3.0) - softcover

Mighty Protectors (V&V 3.0) - hardcover

Living Legends (V&V "sequel") - softcover

Monday, April 25, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: U is for Ultima

This post has been altered since it was originally published on April 24, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

The Ultima games and me go way back.  I was first introduced to Ultima at an old friend's house.  His older brother had a Commodore 64 and a huge stockpile of games - Rings of Zilfin, Adventure Creation System, and several Ultimas to name just a few.  One afternoon we did not have any D&D adventures prepped to play so he told us he "had something that we could play that was almost as good." 

I am not sure which Ultima we sat down and played that afternoon - somewhat irrelevant because I have played them all by now - but it was not difficult to see that this game was different from the computer role-playing games we had played previously.

There were several things that stuck out immediately about Ultima.  The world was open and available for exploration instead of forcing your character down a strict path.  There were many options for interaction in the game.  In the earlier entries, your character could ask the citizens their name, job, and other information.  In later entries of the series, you could basically have your character carry on a full conversation by using keywords that are highlighted.  There was also a morality mechanic, recurring characters, and an overarching narrative to several of the entries.  If you have never played any of the Ultima games, do yourself a favor and find one now. 

If you're interested in buying any of the Ultima games, they can be found at Good Old Games for $5.99 each but there are several that are free.  I waited for a sale and bought them all for no more than $20 for the complete collection.  I will be doing a playthrough of each game at some point in the future.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: T is for Talislanta

This post has been updated since it was originally published on April 23, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s


I saw this ad in Dragon magazine countless times during the 1980's.  You know, back when Dragon magazine was good by having articles that were truly useful and were not completely focused on just A/D&D; there were actually articles about non-TSR games included at times also.  The point being that the ad caught my attention and made me wonder what this Talislanta game was all about.  My gaming group was all about fantasy games at this stage and would pick up any new fantasy  games we ran across to try out.  We had played enough of the available games that it was time for something new and something different for the group.
I remember that none of us were old enough to drive yet when I bought Talislanta.  I was over at my buddy Jamie's house and there was a game store about a mile down the road.  We were dedicated and would walk to that store every time we were at his mom's house; at least, until I was driving.  We were browsing the games on the shelves and then we noticed the Talisanta Handbook and Campaign Guide with the tattooed Thrall Warrior standing in a combat ready pose on the cover. 

Our custom at that time was to split the cost of any new games we purchased to just try out.  If both of us liked it, then we would get another copy.  If one of use liked it and the other did not, the other person would buy out the other half or just go half again on the next purchase.  If both of us did not like it, then we were only out half the price of the game.  With the modern prices of these types of games it might not be a bad idea to get some like-minded people and arrange a purchase arrangement like that again. 

I could go on and on about the coolness of Talislanta but I think anybody reading this could be better informed by going to the Wikipedia entry and then going to the Talislanta Library to check out the official Talislanta products that Stephan Michael Sechi has made available for download.  It's a true shame that there are no new Talislanta products to grace the store shelves but the creator has ensured that Talislanta will  never "die" by making the game available in this manner. 

Since the original post there is a new version of Talislanta available now using several different rulesets.  The promotional video from the kickstarter gives a basic overview of Talislanta: The Savage Land.  DriveThruRPG has several versions of the original rules system available plus 5E/ d20 version and a D6 version as well.

Friday, April 22, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: S is for Shadowgate

This post has been updated since it was originally published on April 21, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s


I remember the game Shadowgate because it was nothing like any of the NES games we had played up until that time.  I picked the game up at one of those game stores that are located in the mall of any big city.  I believe it was after receiving Christmas money one year and several of us loaded up in my buddy Larry's car and headed to the mall to spend our loot. 

I know we stopped in on the music store, book store, and several other places in t he mall but I believe I waited until the game store to make my big purchase.  I know I bought several games but the one that sticks out in my memory is Shadowgate.  I know that the artwork on the box caught my 
attention as I was browsing the games.  I immediately made the connection between this game and Dungeons & Dragons so I bought it.  I believe I also got Wizards & Warriors at this time also but I can not be sure. 

After we finished spending our Christmas money, all of us piled back in to Larry's car and headed back to homes.  Of course, when we got to my house we decided to give the new games a spin to see how they played. 

All of us went back to my room and got ready to play.  As was customary at this time, there were several pronouncements of "cool" and "lame" when the Shadowgate title screen popped up on the television screen.  Of course, using the title screen to judge game quality is a perfectly sound method of doing so to the teen age brain so I guess it works; not really - because there were many times that one of us changed our mind after the title screen was gone and actual game play began.  Hey, we were willing to let the game play change our first impressions so no harm, no foul.

There were several things about Shadowgate that made a lasting impression.  First, it was not a button mashing game but more like a Choose Your Own Adventure book done as a video game.  Second, it was a game that we truly played as a group.  As we faced new obstacles, every one of us in the room made suggestions and had ideas on how to advance.  Third, it was the first game that we used the Nintendo Tip Hotline to get clues on how to get through certain areas.  Fourth, WE - not just one of us - beat this game after several months of play.

If you are interested in a video of game play, check out the video below:     

Shadowgate is still one of my favorite games for the NES.  I own a copy I play on my Retron as well as a Gameboy copy for my son.  More information can be found at the following links.

The Wikipedia entry includes some basic information about the game, the world, and the legacy of the game.

Shadowgate is available on Steam in the original version and one with updated graphics.

The trailer for a new game, Shadowgate VR, is available on the Oculus VR system.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: R is for Rogue

 This post has been updated since it was originally published on April 20, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s


Several members of our gaming group took an introductory computers course together in high school.  I honestly remember very little of what was taught in that class; with time passing and things changing it is a whole new world when it comes to computer programming.  The one thing I do remember from that class is discovering the computer game Rogue. 

One of the guys in the class brought it to school on an old floppy disk.  A few minutes later and it was loaded on to every computer in the classroom.  One by one, people immediately started it up and began playing the game.  Some people did not care for it but most of us enjoyed playing and would do so every spare moment we got in class.  At first, we would just show up early and sneak in a few minutes of game play before class started.  Then we started sneaking in some play time after the teacher gave us our assignments and retreated to her office.  There were a few times that one or more of us got caught playing when the teacher returned, and we could not get the game shut down quick enoughI have downloaded a new version of this game recently and it has a "fake DOS" button that you can push to avoid that issue.  That sure would have helped out years ago.

Rogue is not overly complicated in presentation or game play, as you can see from the picture above.  It is just an old-fashioned dungeon grind with a small slice of a story.  Your character enters the randomly created dungeon collecting gold, fighting monsters, and improving in other ways.  The goal is to find some sort of amulet and escape the dungeon.  I do not know whether you use the amulet on some sort of monster boss or just escape with the amulet to win.  I do not even know what the lowest dungeon level is in the game.  I do know that none of us ever reached it.  Maybe next time... 

If you are interested in more information about the Rogue game, you can learn more about it at the Wikipedia entry for the game.

You can play the game in your browser for free at the Internet Archive.

An entire genre of similar games, known as roguelikes, has grown from the original game.  A healthy list of other games is available at this Wikipedia list.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: Q is for Quest of the Ancients

This post has been minimally updated since it was originally published on April 19, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

Quest of the Ancients

 I am doing one more post about a game that our group never played.  It was not from a lack of interest or availability.  There were several times that I picked up the first edition rulebook at our local game store and wondered about buying the game.  In retrospect, I completely understand why none of us bought the rulebook.  We had a good variety of fantasy games to choose from in the various collections in the group.  I know that we had AD&D, D&D, Fantasy Hero, Palladium Fantasy, and Middle Earth Role Playing.  That is just from memory and I am sure that we had more.  Just like the Living Steel post, what is the point of a post about a game that was never played in my gaming group.  Quite honestly, sometimes I still wonder about this game after all of these years...

  • Does somebody reading this post own this game?
  • Is it worth picking up? 
  • Am I missing something out of the fantasy genre by not having this game?
  • Can anyone just give me an honest evaluation of this game?
Thanks for any answers in advance.  I will definitely respond with other questions if somebody is willing to share their opinion...   

I don't have much to update on this post, but I do have the following.

I still don't own a copy of the game but I'm still interested.

More information can be found at the Wikipedia entry for the game.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: P is for Palladium Books

This post has been updated since it was originally posted on April 18, 2012,

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

Palladium Books
Ok, I admit it, I somewhat procrastinated on this post.  I actually thought of several P words - print magazines and player character, for example - before deciding on Palladium Books.  I should have thought of that much sooner because they provided many hours of gaming fun for my old gaming group.  I have talked about Palladium Fantasy and some general thoughts about Palladium Books in my blog before.  Rather than repeat much of what I have already said I will advise any interested parties to follow the link above and read that post for the main points.

It's been a rough two days at work so far this week and I admit that I procrastinated and put off doing the P post.  Suffice it to say that Palladium Books provided several games for our gaming group:
  • Robotech - It all started with this.  I bought the core book and one of my buddies bought some of the old Robotech VHS tapes because we used to rush home to watch it after school.
  • Palladium Fantasy - Jamie bought the original first edition black cover rule book.  I would probably pay top dollar for this today because we had so much fun with it.  Yeah, it's basically a very heavily house D&D but our campaign switched to this system for a long time.
  • Heroes Unlimited - I got the first editon and would be interested in playing the second edition.
  • RIFTS - The awesome! Look for R is for RIFTS to hear some thoughts...
R is for RIFTS did not happen back in 2012 because I checked ethe date and it was published in e. That fact means RIFTS falls outside of "gaming in the 1980s" so I went with something else.  I'm still a big fan of RIFTS and still have several of the supplements.  If only I could find a group...

I forgot to mention Valley of the Pharaohs in my original post.  It was an ancient Egypti role-playing game and was published before Palladium started using their Megaversal system.  I answered an ad in Dragon magazine for a free copy if you paid postage.  History was always my favorite subject in school but this game didn't quite scratch any gaming itch we had.  It was an interesting read.

I do have a copy of Palladium Fantasy 2nd Edition and Palladium Fantasy 1st Edition Revised so I just need to get a copy of the original edition.  There are several supplements that might be of interest so I may pick up some of them.

I have also added Dead Reign to my collection.  It is a zombie apocalypse game with some differences from the typical setting of that type.  I have the complete line except for the last two supplements but I will be picking them up sometime "soon".  I am also working on some Dead Reign specific house rules to implement a few of the standard zombie tropes such as getting infected by a bite.

Unfortunately, it's been years since I've seen any Palladium products on the store shelves locally. I remember having a wide variety of Palladium products to browse at the local gaming stores in my teen years.  There might be good changes in the future for Palladium Books according to a video I watched the other day.  They have hired a new creative director and it was claimed that "nothing is off the table" when Kevin Siembieda was asked about a new edition and other subjects.   Hopefully, they can get headed back to the on shelf presence they once enjoyed.

Monday, April 18, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: O is for OGRE

This post has been updated since originally being published on April 17, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

Since the subject of this post is "Ogre" it could be about several things - one of the monsters your character can encounter in many fantasy games, something about Shrek, the big jock from Revenge of the Nerds that goes by that nick name, a super villain from the Champions universe, or any of several other options.  Well, this post is not about any of the things I have named.  This post is about the old war game, OGRE, designed by Steve Jackson.
OGRE was one of my two favorite non-rpg games; both were designed by Steve Jackson.  I have enjoyed several of his designs over the years.  I cannot honestly say that I remember much about the rules of the game - it's been about 20 years since I played - but I do remember how much fun we all had playing OGRE.  It was one of our go to games and was played pretty steadily in our group. 

So, what is so great about the OGRE game?  OGRE has a simple premise for play.  One player controls the OGRE - an almost unstoppable war machine - that is intent on destroying the headquarters of the othe player.  The second player has an assortment of various units at his disposal to stop the OGRE and defend his headquarters. 

There is an immense replay value associated with OGRE due to the selection of units available.  If you take a look at the picture to the left, you will note that the price is $2.95.  This was probably from 1977 or within a year or two but the point is that OGRE was relatively cheap in all of its' microgame or pocket box versions.  There have been other versions available over the years and I owned several of them; I never did buy OGRE Miniatures but I would have liked to have owned the game.  I hear through the grapevine that SJG has a Kickstarter under progress for an updated version expected to be released in November of 2012.  I have also heard that it is estimated that the price may be $100!  That is quite a big difference from the price of the sets I bought over the years.  Who am I kidding?  I've started putting money back now. 

I never did back the kickstarter for the OGRE Designer's Edition because we were putting in so much overtime at work that year that I lost track of time and it completely slipped my mind.  I did, however, buy the co and nice re box of OGRE Sixth Edition during the Black Friday sale at Wizard's Asylum for half price! The old pocket box game had small counters and a paper map while this huge box comes with a fold out cardboard map and nice 3D cardstock playing pieces that must be punched out and easily assembled.  It's a great update to an old classic. If you're interested in more information, you can find it at the OGRE page of Steve Jackson Games.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: N is for Nintendo Entertainment System

This post has been updated since originally being published on April 16, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

Nintendo Entertainment System

I completely missed the first generation of console gaming.  That's right - there was never an Atari 2600 in the house when I was growing up.  In fact, I did not own a Colecovision or Intellivision console either.  I vaguely remember playing around with some of these things at a friends house but we missed the first generation of consoles.  What we had instead was the Commodore Vic-20 and I honestly never knew the difference.  There were plenty of games available and I could do other things the Vic-20 also.
That would all change one Christmas morning.  I woke up and noticed a large box with my name on it!  What could it be?  I was running through the options in my head all morning.  Finally, we started opening presents and I saved it for last.  When I opened it, I got super excited when I saw it was the Nintendo Entertainment System and several games.  The picture here on the left is a pretty fair representation of what I opened - the NES, games, zapper, controllers, and the robot were all there.  By the way, I still dig all of that stuff except for the stupid robot.  I never did like using it and I still hate it to this

I immediately got everything opened and out of the package.  We got the instructions laid out and then got it all hooked up.  For the next several hours, I was lost in the den/game room trying out the Nintendo.  I was hooked right from the moment I put in Duck Hunt and started zapping away.  Of course, Duck Hunt did not get a lot of play after that day.  As soon as I played some of the other games, I knew I just wanted to play until I beat them! 

My buddies and I would play quite often when we weren't doing some D&D or other activities; it was also the perfect opportunity to do some solo gaming because you just needed one player for the video games.  The NES got a ton of use in my childhood and I am surprised that it didn't just wear out.  I have to give a big THUMBS UP to Nintendo for making a quality product.   

Some of my favorite NES games (in no particular order) are:
Dragon Warrior was one of the first console rpg's that I played and owned.  I eventually owned every one of the Dragon Warrior games released for the NES.  It was a way to satisfy the D&D itch when no one else was available to play.  I enjoyed the story and felt immersed in the quest taking place in the game.  It had all of the typical D&D elements and also reminded me of Ultima. 
UGH - this game was rough!  Punch Out was one of the games I got at Christmas.  I put it in after Duck Hunt and played Glass Joe for several matches - many more than I should have I felt ;-) - until I finally beat him.  I continued on and finally made it to the third guy that weekend.  In the following months, advancing further in Punch Out became a serious competition among the whole group.  Every so often someone else would advance to the next boxer and that would make every one of us try harder.  Finally, I was the first to reach Mike Tyson.  I got slaughtered in the first round.  I didn't give up and kept practicing.  Some of the other members of the gaming group caught up to me and reached Tyson also.  I kept plugging away at it because I wanted to be the first one in the group to beat him.  I finally found out through Nintendo Power that I just needed to get a certain amount of points scored against Tyson and last all three rounds to win by decision.  I changed my strategy to one of mainly avoiding him during his really difficult spots in the match and scoring points during the best opportunities to do so.  Then everything was falling into place during one attempt at Tyson.  I knocked him down twice in the first round, twice in the second round, and then entered the third round.  We traded knockdowns during the match and during this final round.  I had the points to beat him by decision and I just need to last 13 more seconds after knocking him down for the second time in the third round.  Tyson hops up, meets me in the middle of the ring, throws a crushing uppercut - the same ones you are forced to avoid for over a minute in the first round - and sends Little Joe down to the mat!  No matter how hard or fast I hit the buttons, Little Joe would not get up.  Being around 16 or 17 at the time, I am quite confident that I let out a teen aged F BOMB and then immediately turned off the game.  Not my proudest  I never did play it again, either.  The funny thing is that none of us ever beat him.  One of these days I might have to track this down and give him another shot.   

I usually hate racing games but I really dug R.C. Pro-Am because it was different.  You weren't driving a racing car but one of a selection of remote controlled cars.  As you maneuvered around the track, there were power ups you could collect that would let you do things like shoot missiles.  There were also little arrow strips you could drive across that would shoot your car zooming down the track to pass the competition.   After collecting letters and spelling a word - I don't remember what it was - all of the cars would transform into trucks if I recall correctly.  We always wanted to last long enough to transform again but I don't believe any of us ever did accomplish that feat.

I remember playing the arcade version of Rygar every time I was stuck going to the grocery store.  When I found out there was a home version, I rushed out and got it.  At first, I was a little disappointed that it was not a direct adaptation but I quickly got over it.  The NES Rygar was so much more awesome to me because of the differences from the arcade version.  You travelled to different areas in the game in both but there was a sense of history to the world that has been tainted by evil.  There were unique items to collect and obstacles to overcome that would eventually result in facing the boss monster.  The most memorable thing about this game is the difficulty.  You could pick up from your previous game but only until you turned off the power.  There was no save or continue function that would let you come back later to pick up your quest from that point.  There were times when we would leave the NES powered up and just turn off the TV so we could continue the next morning.   

Super Mario Brothers was another one of the games in the Christmas package.  My buddies and I would play this game for hours, taking turns when someone would get killed.  It may be a "simple game" by the fact that you basically just make Mario run, jump, shoot fireballs, and avoid obstacles to get to the end of the stage but it is very fun and the stages are quite diverse.  This is a true NES classic and anyone that claims to be a console gaming fan - especially the retro kind - should play this game.

I remember hearing the name and thinking "that sounds like a game I will not get".  I borrowed the game from one of my friends at school and found another game that would satisfy my D&D itch when no one else was available.  I saved up my money and bought The Legend of Zelda; I even got the gold cartridge version!  I spent hours playing this game trying to get to the next dungeon, upgrade to the next better sword, or find some other item that would help me advance on the quest.  There were times that my friend Jamie and I would stay up pretty much all night playing this just to get to the next milestone.  The Legend of Zelda was a very engaging game and did a fine job of mixing the action and rpg genres into a game that would have wide appeal.  Although I have played a ton of the sequels, I still find this first game to be one of the best entries in the series.  I have even used it for inspiration when coming up with magic items and monsters for my fantasy campaigns over the years.

As soon as one of these games becomes available on the Wii's Virtual Console I make sure to download it.  So far I have not been disappointed in any of the games.  The play still feels very similar to the way I remember it.  In fact, I have downloaded several older games that are probably considered true classics by many - Metroid, Castlevania, and several others - but I am really waiting on the Dragon Warrior games.  I better go check the newest update to see if it is available... 

Since that time, the Wii Virtual Console service has been shut down.  That's unfortunate because the service offered much more than just old Nintendo games.  There were also Sega Genesis, Commodore, TurboGrafx-16, and others. I had a list of games that I was still planning on purchasing but I will have to look for other options now.

I chose to buy a Retron3 to scratch not just the NES itch, but the console will also play Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis cartridges as well.  I've picked up some of my old favorites including Dragon Warrior, The Legend of Zelda, RC Pro-Am, Rygar, Shadowgate, and Super Mario All Stars.  I've also picked up some games I never did own back in the day like The Adventure of Link, Uninvited, and Sonic the Hedgehog.  Some of the games I'm going to add to my collection when I find them include Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Phantasy Star, and Trojan among others.