How I Almost Invented Roleplaying

How I Almost Invented Roleplaying

When I was a kid, I loved war movies – even more than cowboy movies. I can remember, at the age of 6, pretending to kill “nazis” with my friends. I also remember, after playtime, going to my dad and asking him what “nazis” were. I thought they were some kind of alien or a nasty animal of some kind. Since I was just a kid, he gave me an abbreviated answer. I was amazed to learn that nazis were actually people.

I also knew that many Japanese were bad guys in the Second World War. But I adored my Uncle Mike (Mitsuru) Takeda and Aunt Lillian, both full-blooded Japanese. Our house was full of little Japanese knick-knacks thanks to them. They even taught me origami.

This didn’t stop me from playing battle games with my friends. Usually our guns were just sticks, and we’d take turns getting “killed” in action. Those were pretty active games. Sometimes we’d play with plastic army men instead, and that was also extremely fun.

In my early teens I learned of the existence of tabletop wargames, which used miniatures. 13 year old me couldn’t possibly afford metal figures and anyway the local wargaming group was into Napoleonics which I knew zero about. But I could use my allowance to buy Airfix figures, and then my friends and I created rules to play with them.

Airfix Australian WW2

By the age of 16 we were regularly playing tabletop wargames with our little Airfix figures, with actual rules. We even had terrain of sorts – we used wooden Risk cubes to lay out the edges of rivers, books for hills, and so forth. Eventually my friend Bill decreed that one of the units on each side should represent us, personally. So I had a Lieutenant Petersen figure, who’d walk around and try to survive the battle so he could be promoted.

Well eventually we stopped playing with the Airfix figures and started playing lots of Avalon Hill games, which used cardboard counters. We still created our own games, but we used our own cardboard counters for these, and we no longer had a single person who represented “me”.

Pleading sickness, I stayed home from school to play this when it arrived. In 1974, I found out about Dungeons & Dragons, and started playing that, too. Eventually I developed my own roleplaying games, then continued to design games clear up to now, completing the process I guess I’d started when shooting “nazis” as a 6 year old kid.

But it turns out that the way that roleplaying games first evolved was in tabletop miniature wargames. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson decided to label certain officers as themselves in their wargaming group. JUST LIKE BILL AND ME! They then started playing medieval wargames instead of napoleonics, then added fantasy creatures, then started letting their heroes upgrade between battles (again, we were doing this too). And in the end created fantasy roleplaying games with Dungeons & Dragons.

I owned two entire copies of this. Lost to mildew when mom stored them in a damp basement. I was on the exact same track, at least for a while. I wonder how many other people in the late 60s, early 70s were also orbiting Gygax & Arneson’s great idea. Now, I’m not saying that I would have eventually invented roleplaying on my own. Who knows? But I had at least embarked on the same road as Gygax/Arneson, without knowing it, Of course I was also just a feckless teenager, with zero ability to bring my ideas to the marketplace, or even an inkling how this could be done.

But now you know this tale, and I hope you find it interesting.

– Sandy P.

Ready for Dark Worlds?

Ready for Dark Worlds?

Vol 1: The Ritual

The ritual keeps you alive … for now. But how long will its effects last? Your only hope is to track down the wizard Mustafo who was transported along with you, and who knows the spell of return. Unfortunately, Mustafo has been taken by the Fungi for their dire purposes and your attempt to rescue him have drawn their attention …

Not a subscriber yet? Subscribe now and get Fresh Horror delivered to your Doorstep every month!

In Dark Worlds, the next Cthulhu Mythos 5e campaign by Sandy Petersen, you and your friends become unwitting pawns caught up in the blunders of a mad ruler. His insane attempt to curry favor with the dread Fungi from Yuggoth results in your being teleported across space to the nightmare world of Yuggoth.

Welcome to Cthulhu’s Dungeon!

Welcome to Cthulhu’s Dungeon!

Ready to dive into adventure and insanity? Cthulhu’s Dungeon is our new newsletter solely dedicated to our RPG products and endeavors! From now on you will receive Fresh Horror delivered to your Inbox the 1st of EVERY MONTH.

Each issue will include a FREE one-shot adventure for Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos 5e, information about upcoming products, adventure hooks for past campaigns, a Mini Offer of the Month, hints & tips, downloads, amusements and other powerful potions that will help ease your polyhedral itch.

Enjoy and make sure to tell your friends to subscribe!

Cthulhu’s Dungeon RPG Newsletter  Coming September

Cthulhu’s Dungeon RPG Newsletter Coming September

This September will see the launch of our new RPG-related monthly newsletter Cthulhu’s Dungeon covering all our roleplaying endeavors!

Each newsletter will feature a FREE one-off 5e compatible Cthulhu Mythos adventure AND will contain a shipload of secret fun stuff as well as special offers, reviews, sneak previews for upcoming products, art, Design Notes from Sandy, featured Minis, and cool fan submissions!

Don’t miss out of the fun, be among the first to sign up!

In addition to signing up for Cthulhu’s Dungeon, consider subscribing to our Cthulhu Mythos Sagas, fresh 5e horror delivered to your doorstep every month. It’s not too late to get Yig Snake Granddaddy!