Biblyon the Great

This zine is dedicated to articles about the fantasy role-playing game Gods & Monsters, and other random musings.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Game Junky II: The Hall Closet

Jerry Stratton, November 30, 2012

The box sets are in the hall closet. This is where my gaming life started. First, the purple-book D&D Basic, which remains the gold standard of D&D writing for my taste. Then, in college, we added Runequest and DragonQuest to our special game nights (AD&D was always first). This is the same DragonQuest that we played then. I found it in the local off-campus textbook store in a box of discount items. Our entire group went back to that box and everyone picked it up. This is not the same Moldvay purple box, however. In high school I cut my D&D Basic and Expert books apart and put them into a binder, and then gave that binder away to my youngest brother when I left for college. It’s been long since thrown out, which is too bad because it was filled with notes as well. I picked these up on eBay out of nostalgia.

Back then, we also used miniatures, mainly just to show marching order and so that the DM would know who was affected by traps. All of these miniature sets are from the eighties; we occasionally consider using miniatures again but it takes away room for food, and food is more important now that it’s no longer Fritos and M&Ms. That big brown box underneath the Champions miniatures is also a box of miniatures; I picked it up at a yard sale and have no idea of the provenance of most of the figurines in it.

We don’t use miniatures, but we do still use props. Those two paper towel rolls contain ancient scrolls and maps—printed on laser printer and aged with Trader Joe’s tea. The Kalevala tarot is our version of the Deck of Many Things. It appears in Red Jack’s Gambling House in Helter Skelter.

In a lost alley there is a door behind a door and within it a deck of cards and fortune’s wheel. Upon the deck are forgotten gods; upon the wheel the world rests.

Using a tarot deck with the gods of the Kalevala for “forgotten gods” was a nice touch, and purely random: I picked up the deck because it was only $5.00 at Borders and it looked cool. I used it for Red Jack because it was, in fact, cool and because I had it on hand.

Despite what it looks like here, I’m not a big buyer of box sets. I picked Everway up from Adventure Retail at the San Diego Comic-Con many years ago from a huge pile for $5.00. Cyborg Commando came from a dollar store for—a dollar. This dollar store was on the corner around the block from my apartment at the time; this find made me go in there much more often afterward, but no new games showed up. Cyborg Commando is interesting in that it uses a similar system to Gygax’s later Dangerous Journeys.

You can’t see the title because it’s hidden by the miniatures, but the green box is Once Upon a Time. It’s a card-based story-telling game, kind of a role-playing game for people who don’t want to know they’re playing a role-playing game. It’s a lot of fun and about as simple as you can get.

A lot of the other sets came from eBay, of course. It’s a godsend for the nostalgia-ridden. We played a lot of Villains & Vigilantes, but I never had a copy of the game myself, being immersed in my own Men & Supermen. Nowadays I’d choose V&V over M&S just because it’s so much easier to play. In fact, when Monkey House Games brought V&V out again in a slightly revised version on Lulu, I bought two copies: one for me and one for our old GM, mostly as a gift but partly in the hope that he might run it again. Our Gods & Monsters game is almost over, and I’d love to get in some superhero gaming.

Other games in the closet have been legendary in our group for the reasons we haven’t played them, or haven’t played them more than once. I have never played Space Opera, other than to play through its character creation system. It ended up being far too complicated even for our Chivalry & Sorcery-loving game master. And you can’t see it because the spine has dissolved, but there’s a copy of C&S in there, too, it’s in the plastic baggy at the very top, to keep the pages from getting mixed up. We played C&S all of once. It was even heavier on randomness than AD&D, and I remember balking a bit at rolling alignment, but our GM was adamant. He was less adamant when I rolled Diabolic:

The character is the complete Chaotic—so utterly void of any sense of right and wrong and devoted to hellishness in all its forms that there is no crime, no atrocity, no sacrilege that he will refrain from committing. This malevolent personality is true Evil Incarnate, so fiendishly demoniacal that even the Dark One is ashamed of his excesses at times.

Fortunately, the other aspects of the game kept us from playing it more than once or twice, depending on whether you count character creation as playing it.

I often describe Burning Wheel as Chivalry & Sorcery for the indy/Forge crowd. I picked my copy up in Ithaca several years ago. Some friends and I went back to visit our old haunts around 2005; the old gaming store was gone, but Odyssey Games and Hobbies was a nice replacement. I’d been hearing a lot about Burning Wheel on the Forge groups, and they had a minor sale, so I picked it up. Ithaca had extraordinarily high humidity that weekend even for a New York summer, so the book cover literally curled around on itself before I got it home. The Bicycle poker chips are there to hold the cover flat.

Next to Burning Wheel are a bunch of indy games. Dust Devils I picked up at a Forge Midwest, I don’t remember which. Most of the others in that clump of books I bought from Lulu. The spiral-bound book is Fastlane, and the black box is a paperweight roulette wheel.

I did not buy the red chips for Fastlane. Those are for Blazing Rose, which is not in the hall closet because I refer to it more often. That will come next week in the games I keep in the office.

In response to Game Junky: The gaming shelf meme: James Maliszewski wants to see our junk.

  1. Game Junky Office ->