Thursday, April 21, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! R is for RPGA Adventures.

R is for RPGA Adventures.

Growing up in the 80s I read about the RPGA, Role-Players Game Association, with great interest.  As a kid it was important to me then to be "Best at D&D" (whatever that meant) and the RPGA seemed like external validation of that.  I had heard there were some people in my small-ish town (22k at the time iifc) that were members, but I don't think I even knew for sure.  For me though being in the RPGA was like a badge of honor, like running a Call of Cthulhu game was.  Something only Real RoleplayersTM did.

Well today I am not going to get into the details of the RPGA, past or present, instead, I want to talk about the adventures.  Now normally with this challenge I want to present some material that my normal readers will like and that new readers will also find approachable.   The adventures from the RPGA are, as you might expect from reading the above, not very common or easily accessed.

Back in the early days of eBay I hit the internet hard looking for copies of these adventures.   One of the first ones I grabbed were the first four I knew of.

R1 To the Aid of Falx 
R2 The Investigation of Hydell  
R3 The Egg of the Phoenix  
R4 Doc's Island

These were written in 1982-83 by Frank Mentzer.  I focused on these since they were the ones I knew about and I had a chance to go through them in the late 80s myself, but never finished them.
Unknown to me at the time they were all collected into a larger adventure and sold as I12 Egg of the Phoenix which I talked about on I Day.

Re-reading these now I am very curious about Frank Mentzer's own campaign setting of Aquaria.   I found these links that gave me a bit of a better idea what it is all about:

I am going to need to find out more about it to be honest.

The next set of RPGA adventures that got me interested were the RPGA series.

RPGA1 Rahasia
RPGA2 Black Opal Eye
These were written by Tracy and Laura Hickman and then later combined into the module B7 Rahasia.  Reading these earlier treatments is actually very interesting. I pulled them out when I was thinking about this challenge and after I got the new Tracy and Laura Hickman inspired Ravenloft.   I talked quite a bit about Rahasia and The Black Opal Eye.

RPGA3 The Forgotten King 
RPGA4 The Elixir of Life
Both of these were written by Bob Blake in 1983.  I have them, but I have not really gotten into them.

There are others, mostly featured in Polyhedron Magazine.

As publications, they are an interesting piece of D&D history especially from the so-called "Silver age" of D&D; that early/mid-80s time when D&D was at its cultural peak, but the best adventures were for the most part already published and behind it.

As adventures, many are forgettable save for the ones I mention here.  This, in particular, came as something of a blow to me.  I had expected the RPGA modules to be the cream of the crop, but that was not the case.  Rahasia and the Egg of the Phoenix caught my attentions, but that is about it.
Many of the best would be later reprinted under other module codes (like Rahasia and Egg of Phoenix).

Still. There is something uniquely nostalgic about picking up these duotone books and flipping through thinking of an age when Walkmen, pastels, Trapper Keepers, and Rubic's Cubes ruled the land.


Unknown said...

I confess I've never gotten into role-playing games although I've gotten into role-playing in real life at medieval and renaissance faires.

Meet My Imaginary Friends

Jonathan Linneman said...

I do like the idea of modules that can become a part of a collective D&D experience. Homebrews are great, but it's pretty neat to think about tons of unrelated players' facing shared and codified challenges.

It sounds like a lot of these never lived up to that ideal, though.

LissaJ said...

These were more my kids' era than mine, although they never got into them as far as I know. But the mention of the Trapper Keeper instantly plugged me in to the era. What was the big deal with those, anyway? So ironic that many schools banned them. I never could figure that one out. I thought they were cool and improvement over plain vanilla binders.

Samantha Bryant said...

I married a gamer (leveled up!) and have dipped my toe into RPGs a few times with him. I could lose myself in this kind of gaming for a loooooong time, I'm afraid. Now, we're raising our geeky girls on RPGs, too.

@mirymom1 from
Balancing Act

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

I know the name Tracy Hickman because I've read several of the novels he collaborated on with Margaret Wies - is now a good time to admit I had no idea he was a man? ;)
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Beth Lapin said...

Good for you for sharing these posts.