Showing posts with label board games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label board games. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What is "Traveller Envy" and why do I have it?

My memory is hazy, but my second RPG was either Traveller or Chill.  I like to say it was Chill since it gives me Horror RPG cred.  But in truth, I think it was Traveller.  No shame in that, I was a huge Sci-fi fan back then, even if I rarely got to play Sci-Fi games.

Who's Number 2? Sadly I can't recall.

While this month is dedicated to nothing but horror, I have been itching to get back into some sci-fi gaming and I have been reflecting a lot on something I call "Traveller Envy."

Growing up in the middle of Illinois had some advantages.  We were is what has been referred to as the RPG or even D&D pipeline.  We were situated between Chicago/Lake Geneva and Carbondale, IL where Tim Kask's (and my) Alma Mater SIU is.  We were also close enough to the University of Illinois.  It is only within the last couple of decades that I have come to learn how good I had it then.  Meaning, we had access to RPG products that most of the country lacked.  Judges Guild was just on the opposite side of Springfield from me.  Pacesetter was far North of us, but soon Mayfair would move into the Chicago burbs.  I regularly ordered games I could not otherwise find from The Dungeon Hobby shop/Mail Order Hobby Shop in Lake Geneva or Games Plus in Mount Prospect.


I would usually go to the AD&D/D&D material first, but it would not be long before I'd hit the other games, in particular Traveller.

D&D was great and had many worlds. Traveller had the whole universe. Literally.  

What struck me the most was not just all the RPG products Traveller had, but all the board games and other related games that all seemed to live inside the same in-game Universe.   I imagined campaigns (which always looked like a cross between Star Trek and Blake's 7) where you could role-play your characters and then turn around and have massive space battles using one of the many Traveller related board games

It was full immersion into a world universe that I just couldn't get with D&D.   Oh sure. I had the Dungeon! board game and I loved (love) it.  But a Dungeon! character is not the same as a D&D character. Even back in those earliest days.

I still love Dungeon!

I thought we might get a little closer in D&D4 with the various Dungeon & Dragon board games. But even they were both too close and too different at the same time.  Also I never really could get into those board games. I picked a couple up to try, but in the end I just ended up cannibalizing them for the minis.  IF and this is a big if, I ever rerun Ravenloft as a campaign I might pull that on in.

This feeling of wanting to expand my universe more with more varieties of games is something I have dubbed "Traveller Envy."

I suppose I could have also called this "Star Fleet Battles Envy" since they do something similar, but that doesn't roll off the tongue as easy.

Now it could be that my Traveller Envy is built on something that doesn't even exist.  The dawn of it was reading over Game Catalogs and maybe seeing stronger connections that were not really there.  I have learned that some of the board games take place in the RPG's "past." Even then if the connection is less than I suspect, it is still strong.

I have wanted to do something like this for a long, long time.  I have some ideas on how to do it and what to do, but I am nowhere near close to figuring it all out.

"Travelling" with the Witches

My goal would be to use some board games (as many as I can) in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  While my Come Endless Darkness campaign is multi-versal that is not something the characters know until much, much later.  In War of the Witch Queens, they learn this early on.

So it makes sense to give it a multi-versal, multi-media feel.


None of these board games are even remotely compatible with my old-school D&D game.  They are also largely incompatible with each other.  Only Affliction and Witch Hunt work by covering the same historical event. But I have to give it a try.

In one respect at least Cauldron Bubble and Boil has the advantage of featuring my iconic witch Larian in it as the "Arcanist" witch. 


I have talked Wizard's QuestWitch's Caldron, and Witchcraft Ritual Kit before.  Not all of them are going to work. Not all of them will even work well, but I think I owe it to that 13-year-old version of me to at least give it a try.

Maybe I could have picked an easier batch.  Again my BlackStar game could work with StarFleet Battles (any version) and even some Cthulhu related games.  But this is where my love is.  Besides, there is no challenge in climbing hills, only mountains. 

Are there games you look at and think "man, I need to try that in my game"? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Witchcraft Ritual Kit (1974)

I was out getting some driving practice with my sons over the weekend.  They didn't want too so I made them a deal, if they drove we could go to our favorite local game store Games Plus.  So we did and I found something of a little treasure.


This is Avalon Hill's Witchcraft Ritual Kit from 1974!

So imagine this, the year is 1974.  Avalon Hill knows about D&D having passed on previous Gygax penned works.  The biggest movie of the year is The Exorcist and rival Milton Bradley is churning out Ouija boards all day.  What is Avalon Hill to do?  Simple they create a "game" based on Wicca and Witchcraft.

Supposedly authored by "Dr. Brooke Hayward Jennings", who I can find nothing on anywhere, and neither has anyone else, this was one of two of their occult-themed games.  The other was called "Black Magic" and featured a similarily "porny" cover.

Now, all that aside I have been wanting this game forever.  It has been out of print since the mid-70s and finding a good copy is nearly impossible.

I found this sitting in the stacks of out of print wargames. It was labeled as "unpunched" and interior in good condition even if the box had some shelf wear.  I knew, more or less what I was getting here, so despite the high price (I am not going to tell you what I paid for it) I had to get it.

Well.  I am not disappointed.

Let's have a look inside.






That game board is gorgeous! Not so sure about all the pieces, and those game tokens have to go!
I'll likely replace the male and female figures with minis, maybe 72mm ones, and the other items with small 3D printed versions.  Don't know yet, have to read how they are used.


The gamebook is a mix-mash of all sorts of wicca, occult and pagan ideas that lack coherence. It is, however, a fun read.







This is easily the most 70s thing I own.

I could not find any reviews online and none from any pagans or gamers to give me their insight and point of view.

Also, I am not sure what I will do with it yet. Like I said some of the pieces have to go to make it playable in my mind, but that game board.

In line with my "Traveller Envy" I talked about with Wizard's Quest and Witch's Caldron boardgames I really WANT to use this as part of the larger "War of the Witch Queens" campaign. I am just not sure how yet.  I do have other board games to add to it.

Oh, it also been properly pointed out that the TRUE way to express my Board Game Traveller Envy is via Starfleet Battles and my "BlackStar" campaign.  But that is a topic for another day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Witch's Caldron

Another "Holy Grail" find this week.  But this is a cheat, I have been looking for this on eBay for a while.

Ral Partha's Witch's Caldron
Not to be confused with The Witch's Cauldron.

I didn't want the newer 2016 version so I have been looking for a complete 1980 version with minis. Well, my persistence finally paid off.



The box is full great stuff too.







The minis are what you expect from Ral Partha in the 1980s. Yes, that is a positive thing.




The Wizard and the Witch,




Lots of great minis in this.

Part of me wants them painted, another part of me doesn't.  Maybe I'll just find some pre-painted minis that I can use in place of these.

Going back to my "Traveller Envy" I would love to figure out a way to use this in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  A battle that the wizard pulling the strings of the PCs makes them participate in against one of the Witch Queens.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Wizard's Quest

Last weekend I was at my parent's home for Thanksgiving and my dad's 90th birthday (he is doing great and looking great!). My brother had a gift for me!

Avalon Hil's Wizard's Quest board game.



The box is a little beat up, but inside everything is pristine and like new.  In fact, it is all unpunched.






I have never played it myself but I am really looking forward to trying it out.



PArt of me though doesn't want to punch it because it is in such wonderful shape.


But games are meant to be played.

I due a admit to a little of what I call "Traveller Envy".  Traveller had such a cool RPG and board games that all belonged to the same universe.  I thought it was such a fun immersive idea.
I always wanted to run a D&D campaign that also featured board games in the mix.  Something other than just Dungeon! for the players to do.  I caught a glimpse of what might work back in the 4e days, but that one didn't manifest in the way I wanted.  Thought I think I could work Zanzer's Dungeon into it somehow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The 10 Best (and 6 Worst) TSR Games that Weren't D&D

There is an article making the rounds again from Topless Robot.  It was originally posted in September of 2009 but hey, that's how social media works sometimes (and I guess Bob Denver is dead! [yes I knew this already]).

Here are the 10 Best,
http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/09/the_10_best_and_6_worst_tsr_games_that_werent_dd.php?page=1
And 6 Worst
http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/09/the_10_best_and_6_worst_tsr_games_that_werent_dd.php?page=2

I want to talk about some of these since a few of my favorites are on the list.

Vampyre
Vampyre was a mini-game in a time when many new D&D players (read fans of TSR) had no idea what a mini-game was.  I certainly didn't, not till later anyway when I discovered Steve Jackson.   This was a great little game.  You played hunters looking for Count Dracula.

It had a cool Hex map of Transylvania. A not as cool, but still cool map of Dracula's castle. Counters for the surviving members of the novel vs. Dracula, his brides, gypsies and other monsters (werewolves and wolves I think).   You had till the game ends, either by time or Dracula killing everyone, to find his coffins and destroy them.  It's an idea that has come up again and again in games before and since.

Obviously I loved this little game.  I loved the idea of going up against Dracula.  This was also when I was in my "Marvel" era so I loved the idea of using Dracula, as he appeared in the Marvel comics, as a bad guy.

The game was full of awesome Erol Otus art, Souvenir fonts and maps that looked like they were right out of Basic.   Long before my players ever heard of Count Strahd they clashed wits and swords with Count Dracula!

I remember the game being fast to play and it was surprisingly deadly.  This was also lost in the great game loss of the 90s when so much of my early stuff went missing.


Boot Hill and Gang Busters
Never played these, but I was always curious about them.  I borrowed a friend's copy of Gang Busters and decided it wasn't for me.  I picked up a copy of Boot Hill at a game auction (just the book) and thought it looked fun, but the Old West isn't my thing.

Star Frontiers
I loved this game. We ended up playing a lot of "D&D in Spaaaaace!" with it, but it was still fun.  Love all the support it gets these days.

Gamma World
Again, a game I always wanted to play and never got around to it.  In my mind a game that combined the best bits of Star Frontiers and Gama World would have been perfect.  One of the reasons I REALLY enjoy Mutant Future and Starships & Spacemen. They allow me to combine both as I like with a game system I know better than some games I wrote.  I really need to do more with both of them.

Marvel Super Heroes
Talk about timing.  I was heavy into D&D and I was getting into Marvel comics pretty deep too having just left DC (I came back, maybe you could tell) and there was Marvel Super Heroes.  I really loved this game and I had a blast playing it.

Dungeon!
I have gone on and on about this game ad nauseam.  But I still love it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I am a Dungeon addict.

Hello. My name is Tim Brannan and I am a Dungeon! addict.

It started out simply enough in 1981.  I got a Dungeon board game for Christmas along with the D&D Basic Set. I played that game for hours and hours.  I even made little version of my own D&D characters on Dungeon cards to run them through.  Yup my first game conversion.

At some point I lost that game along with a lot of my Basic/Expert and Advanced stuff.  But I never forgot it.
I have bought other Dungeons in the past, but none really measured up to that first one with the color in dice and little grave counters.

Well. I fixed that!

Presenting my newest acquisition!


Just like my original.




Here is a close up of the dice and the Erol Otus art.



And more of my expanding collection.






Yeah.

I might need professional help.

But in my defense we do play these games, they are not sitting on  shelf collecting dust.

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