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As I was looking for a "History of role-playing games", you came upon the first part of that excellent article from your issue number one. It opened my eyes about the fact that role-playing is a hell lot more than D&D and Vampire, the popular games around here, I can see now that this "hobby" can have exactly the depth I have always wanted it to have...
Miguel A. Rios, Mexico City

Yes Miguel, RPG is a wonderful world full of surprises, even for those like us who think they tried everything, and discover new ways of gaming in the new, "independent" games, such as Snowball, My Life With Master, and so many more. Keep exploring! -Eds

First, allow me to congratulate you on an excellent piece of writing, both your magazine and the set of articles proper. Of all the histories I've read, yours is the most concise I've seen. It also one of the few that actually had something I didn't know, which is difficult (although yes, my saying so definitely more than a little arrogant).

Although the articles are quite dated, I felt it would be interesting to send in an extra tidbit on the whole "Evil RPGs" side. Another case of murder connected to gaming occured in Spain, around the year 1993. A group of players killed somebody while enacting a game of Killer, and in fact kept an accurate account of their proceedings to that end.

Keep in mind what I'm telling you, as vague as it sounds, is what I, as a person living in Argentina at the time, got from the media.

Of course, even in 1993, gaming was virtually unheard of in the latin american world (at least, in Argentina), so the press was all over this.

What is this game they talk about? Who plays it? etc etc. Some variety shows brought players to explain and demonstrate a gaming session, which, while it could've had a good effect on the perception of gaming, it didn't, simply because, whether because of a choice made by the producers, or just a bad call from the interviewees, the demonstration of said games were a PR disaster: "The Game of Shadows" was the name of a homebrew game of one of the demonstrators, and as it name implied, it was dark, gloomy, and creepy.

An excellent choice, when you are trying to convince a crowd whose first contact with the hobby is a murder, right? Along with this, parallels to video games, whose criticism was also in vogue during the time, some psychologists talking about kids losing their grasp on reality (no names were actually given for these, but, in retrospective, I think they were referring to "Bink" Pulling's case), and the token overzealous religious mothers, and we had a very small but nasty case of gaming hysteria.

In any case, I had been gaming for three years before that (I attended the American School in Buenos Aires, so I had more access to the games than the average 16-year old), and insofar, other than mild confusion about the whole concept, my parents were indifferent to the whole thing. After these reports, my parents, particularly my mother, grew suspicious, and wished to learn more about the games. With her were a group of mothers who had never heard of RPG's before, except for the news on the murder. They were interested. Actually, they were more than a little suspicious. All these ladies had their sons in my school, so they were worried about the possible bad effects of these games.

The solution ended up being rather simple: I had them come over and play, rather than explaining. They all controlled one character, and I played them through one of my average dungeon crawls: Lots of traps, no moral ambiguity, plenty of orks. Granted, not the most illustrious of stories, but they wanted what the average games was doing, and this was it.

Happily, even though they didn't get it, they no longer had any apprehensions about gaming. Eventually, the fuzz died out, and happily, we gamers went back to obscurity. I left Argentina a couple of years after that, so I couldn't tell you what's the state of the hobby is there anymore. Hopefully just as obscure as it was when I was there.

Speaking about the supposed correlation between gaming and suicides, here in Chile (where I am now), there's a brand new case of the sort. It has sprouted its first "we are worried about this things" article. However, they are concentrating on Yu-Gi-Oh, which is a TCG... Nevertheless, one of the newspapers tried comparing Yu-Gi-Oh to Dungeons and Dragons (and did a bad job, I might add), so I am also in the process of writing this fellow an email, if only because I know there were other responses from the gamer side, and it seems they weren't very polite, which of course lands us a bad reputation. In any case, yes, I will do my best to write a good, concise report on the theme.

Anyway, thanks for listening to this rather long-winded tale. Kudos on your magazine.I need to ask, before you leave, to settle a doubt for me:You state that the dragonlance modules came before the novels. Yet, in my copy of Dragons of Autumn Dawning, it is stated that the modules came first. So what came first?
Eduardo Alvarez, Sun, 26 Oct 2003

Eduardo, we lost contact, but don't hesitate, - and any of you readers - to write about the anti-rpg craze. Any testimony is interesting — Eduardo's story about him playing with the mothers is fantastic!

Why do you guys hate D&D?

Pat pulling started B.A.D.D. because her son shot himself supposedly because of the game.It wasnt the game it was the kid obviously he would have shot himself over something as litle and stupid as losing a football game.So what then? Would she make a cult called B.A.F.B.?This kid obviously needed some help and psychologic treatment it wasnt the game it was the parent.Pat pulling died of ovarian cancer dude nothing happens negative against us unless we did something to deserve it she got what was coming to her d&d has nothing to do with satan.It was a hobby that derived from an original wargame that a prussian officer developed to reenact battles and as an aid for officers in training.The game was rediscovered 200 years later and people began to play it again.Eventually Gary gygax wanted to do something different with it.He wanted to base the wargame around a smaller group of characters so the game would be less frantic and the characters would no longer be just a plain swordsman or knight.The characters would develop personalities and be unique.The monsters and all that came much later.The game is just like playing chess or boggle if you call this game satan then you must condamn all games that involve winning or losing

Thanks for such an illustration of how "impolite responses from the gamer side, which of course grants us a bad reputation". You see, sometimes you like your hobby so much that you can not explain it simply, or are mad when someone doesn't share your enthusiasm. - Eds


I checked the article about the History of Roleplaying. Mostly a good read but I was seriously disappointed about the lack of coverage of the company ICE and their Middle Earth and Rolemaster games.

Middle Earth that is one of the best selling games ever is barely mentioned and even worse the advanced version Rolemaster is not even mentioned at all. Surely would a roleplaying system that is still in print and compatible with the first version released in 1984 be worth mentioning if the topic is history of roleplaying games.
Per-Anders Staav

We're glad that you enjoyed reading at least some of it. Steve's history is a bit out of date but he's too busy to update it. As regards MERP (and RM), it's a game I've enjoyed playing a lot... But then I'm not sure that it's any kind of landmark in roleplaying development, although MERP might be one of the early big licenses, a couple of years after Cthulhu. I'm happy to be put right though. RM, I think, first appeared in 1980. - Eds

Amazingly good stuff guys. Quickly read a couple of papers and was amazed by the depth of analysis. Good to see that RPG is becoming adult. To me RPG are just the continuation of oral tradition of tales told by the wise elder, except that all contribute to the story...
Eric, French (Former) GM lost in Egypt

(History is a) Great article. You're wrong about the date of "Adventure" (1979), however. I remember playing that on a terminal as a kid back in '77. ...

Well Per-Anders and "Blake" , thank you for the information. The History is however unlikely to be updated by Steve Darlington, who gave up. Maybe one day we shall turn the History into a wiki, so anyone could contribute directly... Lobby for it, and we might do it. :-) - Eds.

What a great site. Easy to read, easy to navigate and most importantly of all, no annoying auto pop ups ;) Anyways, great job, keep up the good work and who knows, maybe I just might come up with something you can use one of these days.

I am in the process of developing a RP Forum for several of my online friends and have found some of the articles from your site to be absolutely wonderful. (...) I was wondering if you would mind if I included a link to the site in my own pages? ... I am attempting to write a generic guide about RPing ... that includes discussions about character development, the use of magic and technology, conflict resolution and character interaction.... With your site being one of the better ones I have seen as far as being easily navigated, informative and easily read, I would most definitely like to direct visitors to my own site in your direction. ... And thank you for such a nice site, I particularly liked the History of Role Playing articles.
R. Claspill (aka Greason Nightwolfe among others)

You are all very welcome to link to our site; go on, make us famous since we deserve it ;-) - Eds.

I read the columns in the last number of PTGPTB. MJ Young's one made me fume. I'm fead-up with Forgitis. I hoped I would be spared from it at PTGPTB but it seems I'm not. The other, Steve Darlington's made me think why I am so against some kinds of rpg theorizing. Somehow both articles are linked because both delve in a common issue, and that's rpgs as story.

SteveD at least has the ability to say a lot of sensible things, mixed with some crap he would be well advised to throw away.

In any case, would you accept an article where I expose why rpgs are NOT story making in any sensible sense? Yes, I plan to hit heavy on the two columns above, but no, it will not be just a contrarian article. I plan to present an alternative assessment of rpg-ing, one that does not require the overused and much abused story-making explanation.

PS ... I have been writing columns for RPGnet. My current column is called Rough Quests and can be found at

PPS Mind you, I have nothing against the Forge and what people are doing there. It may make for a nice reading from time to time. What makes me fume is the zealous proselytizing that presents it as a New Age in the history of roleplaying.
Sergio Mascarenhas

We'd be happy to accept an article from you subject to the usual editorial controls! :-) - Eds.



  • fantastic site! . . .refreshing and informative . . nice to know there are like minded people out there . . .thanks for all the effort over the years!
  • Excellent magazine, I enjoy it thoroughly and always recommend you to my friends.
  • Came back because I met Steve Dempsey at a Con.
    Steve shouldn't you meet more people at Cons? - Eds.
  • Thanks for the effort you put into this.
  • This looks like a wonderful site especially since I too enjoy the Meta-Game aspects of GMing.
  • Great articles, keep up the good work. :)
  • I was surfing for articles on how to write adventures and came across one here. I enjoyed what I have found and would like to see more. Keep it up.
  • From what I've read, excellent. And Steve Darlington is a superb writer and has very good taste in television (Morse, The Critic)
  • I was researching for a paper on Roleplaying culture. What a wonderful find!
  • Truly one of the best online RPG magazines on the net
  • Your content looks great! I'm looking forward to future issues.
  • thanks for such an interesting to read rpg-theory scripture.
  • This is a nice place to be, thoughts on rpg are important!
  • Good read, great info.
  • Cool Webzine!
  • your magazine is so great!!! best i ever found on the web since criticalmiss!!!
  • The crowd

Thank you, you're a wonderful audience! - Eds

I stumbled onto your 'zine by accident, just wondering if I could look up some info about the history of role-playing games, just for sh*ts and giggles. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much, if anything. After all it's not the most widely known or interesting subject on the planet (or is it...). So guess how surprised I was when not only did I find an article, but an AMAZINGLY WRITTEN NINE-PART article chronicling the "golden age" of the RPG and the story behind some of my favorite RPG's and their inspirations and origins.

I'm looking over the other issues as I write this, and I\'m totally sold. Sing me up!
Matthew Thompson

Just read Dungeon Master. Put the name into Google, and find that almost all of the first 50 sites which come up have to deal with Dallas Egbert. As the mother of several exceptionally bright children, I do tend to agree with you as to the reason why Dallas took his own life.

Thanks for joining our site. We do cater to a broad cross section of roleplayers but I think you might be one of the first mothers to write in. Or at least, one of the first to tell us.

If you're interested in the Dallas Egbert there's a very good site called the Escapist that has a lot of information about that and other gaming controversies. There's also a funny section where the writer attempts to "prove" that spells work - Eds

I just finished your article on Dallas Egbert. I was surprised to see how little I knew about the case. You see, I used to play with Dallas when I was a little kid, back in Huber Heights OH.

I really thought Dallas was alot older than me, but after reading your article, I realize he was only 3 years older. I was probably between 7-9 when we played together. I met him thru my brother, who was good friends with Doug, as they were in the same grade back in Valley Forge Elememtary. We lived just a few streets away. (...). I am not sure exactly what I knew about Dallas at the time, except that he was a genius (though I am not quite sure I knew what that meant), and that he had really no friends his own age.

I have one memory that stands out about him, though I am not sure why. We were in his house, shooting pool, and he was telling me about his new puppy, or perhaps it was puppies, I cannot remember. I do remember though, even as a young child, how incredibly immature he seemed. His brother Doug seemed much more "normal".

I recall very clearly hearing about him disappearing while playing dungeons and dragons. In fact, I was just telling my husband about it last night, and decided to google his name to see if I could find out more. I was shocked to find out the truth. I had always thought he was never found. I was not aware that he was found, and that he committed suicide some years later.

Such a sad story. He really seemed like a nice kid, though rather lost. I really don't recall his parents at all, and I have not seen his brother since he was a little blonde haired kid back in school.

Thank you for the article.

Laura (Borders) Connock
Tampa Florida

I'm 30 and have been roleplaying (more or less assiduously) for 18 years. Like a lot of old RPG geeks, I'm actually writing my own fantasy RPG. Well, I've just read your last issue and I totally in adequation with your 3 articles : Theory 101: The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, What games do I want to play? and especially, The Avatar, the Audience, and the Author.

I'm the kind of roleplayer that love all 3 aspects.

Great job, great thinking. I'm happy to receive your writings. Kisses to all.
Thomas Rogeau

Just stumbled on to your web site, not sure as to what it might contain. And, to my great pleasure it deals with my favourite hobby, role paying games! I've been an avid gamer for over 18 years, and have always been trying to find more info that dealt specifically ABOUT the activity itself, not merely promoting products for massive companies (i.e. Dragon Magazine for WOTC/Hasbro).

I particularly appreciate the mature and serious nature it approaches the subject with, and has realistic humour added in as well. Superb job.

But one of the amazing things I discovered was that Steve Darlington contributes for you! "The History of Role-playing", I really enjoyed it, I felt it was well written, entertaining and really quite informative.
Christopher Spatola


I read a few articles. I'd like to see more.I've played a few games...and I'm trynig to start my own world in rolemaster. It problably would be smarter to use something like Gurps, but something about the crit tables really appeal to me. Hope to hear more from you. Cheers!
Loren, Dec 29th

We like to think that setting is more important than rules. Hence we put articles to make settings more consistent and detailed (such as "the importance of food" or "Law and Order in RPGs". So our advice would be: use your favorite system, add the crit tables, and focus on your world! :-) - Eds


Your antimanifesto states that you publish on a regular and periodic basis (monthly I believe) and that you will explain delays; yet the last issue was in 2005 June? Are you guys still doing this thing?

I think that more people would write articles if there was some sort of incentive though...freebie games (many companies do this anyhow), promo cards, etc. Problem with RPGers is that they're too busy playing...heh. :)

do you guys pay for a submission? what if its consitent and good?
Evan Diehnelt

We're a non-profit making outfit, we mainly do it for the glory, honestly. Occasionally we get sent stuff which is usually handed out amongst the team. But we haven't had much recently. I think the best freebie we get is free entry to conventions on the promise of a review article in the zine. The big US cons, GenCon and Origins, treat the press really well, even little people like us. We even got nominated for an award once.

So much as I'd like to shower putative writers with gifts, it's not really possible, unless we get glossy advertising sponsorship from Hasbro or Nike. I can see it now, "The Displacer Beast - the shoe for gamers everywhere - swoosh!" A man can dream, as long as he's got a day job to pay the rent. -Eds

It is a great gamer resource and I am worried that nothing has come out since June 2005. I am willing to write if that will help.
Paul Cardwell

Thanks for joining up. As for your offer of writing for the zine, we very much like to take you up on that. We're finding it harder to get good articles and would really welcome some fresh new input. (that is true for anyone reading this!)- Eds

On Bass Players


"The bass player sets the beat, probably the mood, the key, and the changes in the music, but he almost never plays the melody." [Theory 101 Part 2]

As a bass player who is also a DM, I believe that analogy isn't entirely true. The bass player doesn't set the beat, the drummer does. The bass player, drummer, and perhaps a rythm guitar make the rythm section, and a good rythm section helps the drummer set the beat.

The bass player doesn't set the key either. I'm assuming you're talking about a "jam" here. The person who picks the key is the person who starts playing first. Everyone else has to identify the key. If it's an arranged piece of music, the key is pre-chosen. If you're writing music the key is often chosen as a combination of the key's mood and a singer's vocal range.

Different bands do different things with music changes. From my experience the drummer usually signals changes in the music with a fill, but other times you can get changes from the vocals.

You are right that the bass player rarely gets the melody, though it's pretty common for a bass player to be playing a counter-melody or just improvising underneath the vocals or a guitar solo. I think that's probably what you were trying to bring out as the DM's role.

Anyways, interesting article, though I think maybe the analogy should back up to be the rhythm section. (The Rythm Section Method?) At any given time somebody in the rythm section is probably screwing around doing something interesting underneath the melody.
Bruce Tong

Do you know of any dungeons and dragons groups meeting on Brisbane Southside or Logan city suitable for older teenagers to join?
Chris and Sheree

Not that we know of, sorry. You might like to try getting in touch with QUGS (Queensland University Gaming Society) who may be able to point you in a better direction. -Eds

Good article on the history of RPG. I live in Queretaro, Mexico and we two years ago we had a crime where a young girl was killed during s/m practices, unfortunately, the killer and friends turned out to be rpg players of Vampire the Masquerade. After that everybody on town blamed rpg for the crime, my mother even considered asking me to hide my books.
Gerardo Braham

Feel free to write us an story of the wherabouts of this story, even how it affected you. We're always eager to collect examples of media manipulations and craze on RPGs


One sugestion: why don't you post your very good article about the history of RPG on the Wikipedia?
Wagner Schmit

Wagner, did you realise that the serie is consisting of 25,000 words? That is too much for a wikipedia part. Plus, the style is not exactly objective, as Steve admits in his addendum and thus doesn't suit wikis style. So, we would feel better if would link to the history! :-)

However, one day we'll turn those articles into wiki format, so everyone could correct years of publication, and so on :-) - Eds

Your comments encourage authors and editors alike. Please keep them coming in!

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