Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gaming In 1991: Heroic Worlds

At my local library today, I was fortunate enough to find a copy of Lawrence Schick's Heroic Worlds (Prometheus Books, 1991), which strives to be a "history and guide to role playing games".

Despite being (now) 17 years out-of-date, this book is absolutely engrossing.

Not only does Mr. Schick attempt to list and briefly describe every RPG product known to man, but he also gives recommendations for the top games of various genres. The 250-system Game Index is impressive, but perhaps most enjoyable for me were the essays. Herein, we have Tom Moldvay pimping Lords of Creation, Erick Wujcik discussing good game design, Ken St. Andre talking about whatever the hell he felt like, and plenty more famous game designers holding forth on a wide variety of topics. The introductory history of gaming is enjoyable to read, as well. Included in the back is a timeline that charts major developments in RPGs--I think I may be tempted to cut this out of the book before returning it.

I'd like to do some articles this week covering the various facets of this book, which I find hugely entertaining (only occasionally due to the outdated assumptions made therein). So be sure to tune in for the rest of the week, as we take a snapshot look at gaming as it was seen in the year 1991. If you think about it, the outlook and business models for the hobby then were very much different--no Vampire, no d20 SRD, no MMORPGs to contend with, no pdf publishing, and no internet community.

If you want to see just how different the assumptions were back then, consider this quote from the book:

"Role-playing games are the games of our generation, just as Monopoly was for the last generation". --Greg Stafford

Yep. Anyhow, if you'd like excerpts from any of the product blurbs/reviews contained herein, let me know and I'll try to respond as I can.


Frederic said...

I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. Since all I know is D&D I've got no special requests.
Except for pictures! Does it have any pretty pictures?

Zachary The First said...

Actually, it has some nice excerpt art from a number of RPGs. Not a lot, and black and white, but quality. The cover itself is pretty mediocre, I thought.

Glad you're looking forward to it! There should be some good articles, starting later today...

Kaiju said...
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Anonymous said...

One of my favorite gaming books ever! A great history of the hobby. If only there were an updated version. I'm surprised that there's still an intact library copy somewhere, actually.

As a librarian, I think I'm required to give the "photocopy, don't cut" speech or they might take away my degree. I remember checking out D&D rulebooks and modules at our local library as a kid and finding maps, charts, etc. ripped out.

But you're only kidding, right? ;)


Zachary The First said...

@Kaiju: Yep, just kidding. I love books too much. :)

I do wish there were an updated version!

Badelaire said...

Very cool. This is only about a year and a half before I started gaming, and right around the time the "New RPG Paradigm Revolution" kicked into full swing with the advent of V:tM and a lot of other systems.