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hairylarry
Saturday, July 2, is the first Saturday of the month so our topic for Inspired Unreality is Fantasy and Science Fiction. Books, stories, movies, tv, games, if it's Fantasy and Science Fiction then it's on topic.

Here's a teaser. I watched the first two episodes of the new "Wheel Of Time" series and I have some issues. Everything goes so fast. The visuals are great but the story is only a sketch. There are 14 books in the "Wheel Of Time" and they are all long and they all have substantial stories to tell across multiple points of view. I don't think the source material fits the tv series format.

You may disagree. That would be great. I have opinions and you have opinions too. We are both free to opinionate at Inspired Unreality.

Inspired Unreality open game chat is held every Saturday at 11:00 AM Central in the gamerplus chatrooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. There's more information and an invite link here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Duca joined us last Saturday on Inspired Unreality. He's been playing a dragon in Eberron, a high fantasy RPG. We've been discussing "Malazan Book of the Fallen" by Steven Erikson a ten book high fantasy series and just how difficult it is to write high fantasy. I imagine that's true for RPGs too.

Duca also mentioned Keith Baker, a game designer and fantasy novel author who worked on Eberron. Here's a link to his blog.

https://keith-baker.com/

Have you done any high fantasy gaming? Turns out that discussing high fantasy games is on topic when we discuss Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Now, Vivian and I are readers. We talk about books. You may enjoy games, television, or movies. Let us know what you like and why you like it? What has your attention right now?

Please forward this email to your gaming friends and share this link.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/965

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
https://mastodon.social/@hairylarry
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com
hairylarry
Tomorrow morning at 11:00 Central. Open game chat on Inspired Unreality. Bring your own topic. Everyone is welcome. All gaming is on topic.

Inspired Ureality is held in the gamerplus chat rooms at Tenkars Tavern on Discord. Here's a link to more info and an invite.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Last week on Inspired Unreality. Actual play at Eclectic Geekery.

Acorn People and Mister MistMeister from hairylarry's blog

On their way back from Mr Muffin's Second Hand Store Ari, Caper, and Clairen met Edge Bravestone, a cautious fighter. Caper said "Well met" and invited him to his hobbit hole for elevenses. They had a floral mix that, when steeped, thickens the air with love and tea infusing aromas from across the Four Marches.

Caper mentioned that he had heard of an interesting tree across the river in Wilken Woods and when everyone said they were up for a hike anyway off they went.

They took a short cut along the riverbank and soon were crossing the bridge and entering Wilken Woods, a magic forest. Ari and Caper had been to the tree before so Caper led the way, a little over a mile on the road and then a slight veer to the north following a barely used woods trail.

Soon they came to a large oak tree with some owls perched in the upper branches and acorns covering the ground. Caper gathered a bunch of acorns in a pile and stirred them with his finger and up popped an acorn man who said, "We are acorns from the sentient oak. When met with intelligent interest we wake up and talk. The sentient oak can talk too but time runs slow for him. We acorns can understand him but other living creatures cannot."

Caper continued talking to the acorn man and Ari, Clairen, and Edge gathered acorns together. Soon they were all talking to acorn men.

After talking about the tree, the owls, and everything (including fairies) Caper's acorn man stepped to the fore. He said, "We need your help. There is nothing we would like more than to lay on the ground and wait to be an oak tree. But acorns lying in the shadow of a sentient oak cannot grow. The owls sometimes help by carrying acorns or acorn men to other parts of Wilken Woods but they never cross the river. We would like to expand our horizons and answer our constant conundrum, which came first, the magic forest or the sentient oak trees?"

Caper said, "I know just the spot.", turning to Ari, "Remember the hill above the mist where we rescued those people from the past?"

Ari agreed that the hill would be more than suitable. Caper said, "We have some unfinished business there too and maybe we can make the misty valley safe with the help of Clairen, Edge, and our new friends, the acorn people.

So each of them carried an acorn man on their shoulder and trekked back to Tobbins Shire and then up the road leading to the misty valley.

When they got to the top of the hill they could see the mist in the valley below and the two ancient houses on either side of the road. The acorn men loved the spot and they jumped onto the ground and ran in different directions looking for a nice place to lie down and wait to be an oak tree.

Caper filled everyone in on the danger of the mist while he started boiling water for tea.

"Ari and I drank this tea before and then we braved the mist and pulled about 20 humans out and guided them to the top of the hill. They wandered into the mist 400 years ago and when we brought them out it was still the same day to them. It wasn't until the next morning that they began to believe they were 400 years in the future."

Everyone wanted to solve the mystery of the mist and dispell the danger.

Ari pulled out a bag of tea and four cups. Caper made the tea and poured it. Ari stirred each cup with the silver wand King Groad had given her in feyland.

"So drink this down." said Caper, "It's not safe in the mist and we don't want to be waking up 400 years in the future, if someone comes to rescue us."

Ari said, "The tea protects against fey magic and when enhanced by the fey magic in the silver wand it is very powerful protection, indeed."

When the party entered the mist it was Edge Bravestone that started a conversation, calling out to the mist believing there was a persona involved.

The mist was soon showing multiple faces and waving hands. Although his conversation was disjoint and punctuated with oooos and ahhhs here's the essence of his story.

"I was a water elemental and one night I took to gaseous form to explore the dry land near the river. I got in a fight with a mage and his magic crossed my fey magic wrong and I got stuck in gaseous form. That's how I became Mister MistMeister."

"Time doesn't mean much to me so I don't know how long ago this happened. Later a party of humans wandered into the mist. They were lost and distressed. I liked them and I didn't want to hurt them so I froze time for them."

"Later on two of you came into the mist and took them off. I don't know why you weren't lost and distressed. I tried to freeze you in time anyway but it didn't work."

"And now here you are back again with two others. I like you and I'd like to keep you but my magic isn't working on you again."

Caper kept an eye on Mister MistMeister while Ari, Clairen, and Edge tried to come up with some ideas to fix things. Disperse the mist? Turn it back into water? What kind of spell could do something to a water elemental?

Ari said, "Ah, but you forget, I am Arimeth, and I am not new to this game." She picked up a D20 brandishing it in front of us and then she made it disappear. It reappeared on the floor and it was a 5.

Checking the Entirely True Tales From Beyond The High Hedge dice table we read.

The Dwarf-King’s royal artisan has a secret technique for brewing molten metal into heavenly spiced mead.

Clairen the friendly bouncy dwarf is still a dwarf and she could read between the lines. Maybe we need to get Mister MistMeister drunk. That seems to solve most problems for dwarves.

That got Caper's attention. He tipped his hat to one of Mister MistMeister's many faces and said, "I believe we're going to help you out in a bit."

Then he led the party out of the mist, to the top of the hill, past the resting acorns, and on towards Tobbins Shire to get a keg of ale.
---
https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/956

Dice tables from Hearth & Hillside Home
https://weirdandblue.itch.io/hearth-and-hillside-home

And I posted some photos of Wilken Woods. (Taken in our yard.)
https://gamerplus.org/photo/useralbum/hairylarry/40

Please forward this email to your gaming friends and share this link.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/957

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
https://mastodon.social/@hairylarry
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com

hairylarry

Adventuring in Tobbins Shire at Eclectic Geekery on June 18, 2022


On their way back from Mr Muffin's Second Hand Store Ari, Caper, and Clairen met Edge Bravestone, a cautious fighter. Caper said "Well met" and invited him to his hobbit hole for elevenses. They had a floral mix that, when steeped, thickens the air with love and tea infusing aromas from across the Four Marches.

Caper mentioned that he had heard of an interesting tree across the river in Wilken Woods and when everyone said they were up for a hike anyway off they went.

They took a short cut along the riverbank and soon were crossing the bridge and entering Wilken Woods, a magic forest. Ari and Caper had been to the tree before so Caper led the way, a little over a mile on the road and then a slight veer to the north following a barely used woods trail.

Soon they came to a large oak tree with some owls perched in the upper branches and acorns covering the ground. Caper gathered a bunch of acorns in a pile and stirred them with his finger and up popped an acorn man who said, "We are acorns from the sentient oak. When met with intelligent interest we wake up and talk. The sentient oak can talk too but time runs slow for him. We acorns can understand him but other living creatures cannot."

Caper continued talking to the acorn man and Ari, Clairen, and Edge gathered acorns together. Soon they were all talking to acorn men.

After talking about the tree, the owls, and everything (including fairies) Caper's acorn man stepped to the fore. He said, "We need your help. There is nothing we would like more than to lay on the ground and wait to be an oak tree. But acorns lying in the shadow of a sentient oak cannot grow. The owls sometimes help by carrying acorns or acorn men to other parts of Wilken Woods but they never cross the river. We would like to expand our horizons and answer our constant conundrum, which came first, the magic forest or the sentient oak trees?"

Caper said, "I know just the spot.", turning to Ari, "Remember the hill above the mist where we rescued those people from the past?"

Ari agreed that the hill would be more than suitable. Caper said, "We have some unfinished business there too and maybe we can make the misty valley safe with the help of Clairen, Edge, and our new friends, the acorn people.

So each of them carried an acorn man on their shoulder and trekked back to Tobbins Shire and then up the road leading to the misty valley.

When they got to the top of the hill they could see the mist in the valley below and the two ancient houses on either side of the road. The acorn men loved the spot and they jumped onto the ground and ran in different directions looking for a nice place to lie down and wait to be an oak tree.

Caper filled everyone in on the danger of the mist while he started boiling water for tea.

"Ari and I drank this tea before and then we braved the mist and pulled about 20 humans out and guided them to the top of the hill. They wandered into the mist 400 years ago and when we brought them out it was still the same day to them. It wasn't until the next morning that they began to believe they were 400 years in the future."

Everyone wanted to solve the mystery of the mist and dispell the danger.

Ari pulled out a bag of tea and four cups. Caper made the tea and poured it. Ari stirred each cup with the silver wand King Groad had given her in feyland.

"So drink this down." said Caper, "It's not safe in the mist and we don't want to be waking up 400 years in the future, if someone comes to rescue us."

Ari said, "The tea protects against fey magic and when enhanced by the fey magic in the silver wand it is very powerful protection, indeed."

When the party entered the mist it was Edge Bravestone that started a conversation, calling out to the mist believing there was a persona involved.

The mist was soon showing multiple faces and waving hands. Although his conversation was disjoint and punctuated with oooos and ahhhs here's the essence of his story.

"I was a water elemental and one night I took to gaseous form to explore the dry land near the river. I got in a fight with a mage and his magic crossed my fey magic wrong and I got stuck in gaseous form. That's how I became Mister MistMeister."

"Time doesn't mean much to me so I don't know how long ago this happened. Later a party of humans wandered into the mist. They were lost and distressed. I liked them and I didn't want to hurt them so I froze time for them."

"Later on two of you came into the mist and took them off. I don't know why you weren't lost and distressed. I tried to freeze you in time anyway but it didn't work."

"And now here you are back again with two others. I like you and I'd like to keep you but my magic isn't working on you again."

Caper kept an eye on Mister MistMeister while Ari, Clairen, and Edge tried to come up with some ideas to fix things. Disperse the mist? Turn it back into water? What kind of spell could do something to a water elemental?

Ari said, "Ah, but you forget, I am Arimeth, and I am not new to this game." She picked up a D20 brandishing it in front of us and then she made it disappear. It reappeared on the floor and it was a 5.

Checking the Entirely True Tales From Beyond The High Hedge dice table we read.

The Dwarf-King’s royal artisan has a secret technique for brewing molten metal into heavenly spiced mead.

Clairen the friendly bouncy dwarf is still a dwarf and she could read between the lines. Maybe we need to get Mister MistMeister drunk. That seems to solve most problems for dwarves.

That got Caper's attention. He tipped his hat to one of Mister MistMeister's many faces and said, "I believe we're going to help you out in a bit."

Then he led the party out of the mist, to the top of the hill, past the resting acorns, and on towards Tobbins Shire to get a keg of ale.

---

Dice tables from Hearth & Hillside Home
https://weirdandblue.itch.io/hearth-and-hillside-home

hairylarry
Explore Tobbins Shire on Inspired Unreality open game chat hosted by Eclectic Geekery in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. We will be playing a hybrid game with some of us sitting around a table and others from anywhere in the world meeting in the gamerplus chat rooms at Tankar's Tavern on Discord.

For more information about Inspired Unreality and for a link to Tenkars Tavern go here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Tobbins Shire is the home of Caper Tobbins, Ari's sidekick. Caper, Arimeth, and Tude, Ari's wildcat have been adventuring together for over thirty years. If you include The Ghost of Tobbins Shire this will be a three generation RPG game at Eclectic Geekery alone. Come and join us and we'll see how this works.

Last month our granddaughter Liz joined Vivian and myself at Eclectic Geekery to play Just Quest. She's playing a dwarf, Clairen, who is friendly and bouncy.

Clairen wanted to head to town and make new friends so off we went. On the way we met Pogbert Piper blowing spectacular smoke rings in his garden. His smoke looked like soot from a roaring black hearth.

Caper played a merry jig on his flute and every one was tapping their feet or hoeing in time to the music except Clairen who was bouncing up and down.

Then on to town and a visit to Mr. Muffin's second hand store. Clairen bought a yellow headband. Caper bought a black saddle for his pony.

And that ain't all ...

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/929

Eclectic Geekery is a book and hobby store with a focus on sci-fi, fantasy and all things geeky. Here's a link to their Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/eclecticgeekerystore

And on the music side of my life Vivian and I were joined by Carl and his family for my Guerilla Livestream of the Black Oak, Arkansas, mural in Black Oak Arkansas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyCaMnt39As

And I have a new album out, Hairy Larry Livestreams, available for streaming everywere and soon to be available in CD form at Eclectic Geekery. Listen or download here.

https://archive.org/details/hairylarrylivestreams

Please share.


https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/950


Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
https://mastodon.social/@hairylarry
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com

ZDL
No, the name is not a typo.  Superhero:44 is the name of a game so rare that most people who know of it know of it as Superhero:2044 from Gamescience.

This is not that game.  Or, rather, it is that game.  It is that game as it existed before Lou Zocchi published it under the Gamescience umbrella.  Published under the subtitle "THE CAMPAIGN OF SUPERPOWERED CRIMEFIGHTERS IN THE YEAR 2044" in 1977, it's an odd duck of a game that's somewhere between a skirmish level wargame and a role-playing game.

It's from humble seeds like these that the hobby grew into what it is nowadays.


Origin Story


Donald Saxman played in a "medieval fantasy campaign" under Mike Ford, an apparently very creative gamer who would have assault guns as often as dragons in his fantasy games, not to mention "over two dozen alternate universes, each with its own natural laws and historical motif".  One of those alternate worlds was a world populated by comic and pulp novel heroes.  Rules for this latter one were a pastiche of rules adapted willy-nilly from other games since at the time there were no rules specifically for that genre.  Saxman, inspired by Ford's campaign, embarked upon a course of making his own set of rules for the superhero genre.


The Book


Superhero:44 is a self-published 48-page booklet printed on plain white paper with a pale brown cover made of light, matte card stock.  It is so much a DIY labour of love it hurts: the text is obviously typewritten and pasted into place for reproduction.  The art—which is surprisingly good for the era and budget!—is all black-and-white line art which ranges from barely-better-than-doodling to quite impressive set pieces, with more toward the latter.  (About one page in three has some kind of art on it.)  One nice touch is that each artist is individually credited for each work on each page.


Reproduction of the text is imperfect (to put it politely) and can be a bit of a strain to decode.  (The later, expanded, Gamescience publication of this game as Superhero:2044 is much easier to read despite being in smaller text.)

There is a one-page foreword, sixteen pages of background, eight pages of "player setup" rules (character generation and coverage of character planning), six pages of combat rules, eleven pages of "handicapping and patrol" rules (for which q.v.) and four pages of costs and salaries.

The Rules


Being, as it is, a game made by early gamers who still hadn't quite sussed that role-playing games and wargames are different breeds of games, this game has many of the flaws of early games (like the original Dungeons & Dragons, as a matter of fact).  Concepts are introduced in an order that seems a little quirky to people who are used to modern game writing, and there is a focus on things which have been deprecated or fallen entirely by the wayside in modern games.

That being said, it also has quite a few innovations which people today might find surprising coming out in 1977.  This is, after all, a year before which there were only three published RPGs: Dungeons & Dragons, Metamorphosis Alpha, and Empire of the Petal Throne.  In this year Chivalry & Sorcery was first published, as was Traveller.  This is when the first book for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was published, as was the original "blue box" of Dungeons & DragonsThis game predates Runequest and Gamma World!  (Which is to say that there is a reason why this game has some oddities when viewed by the modern reader.)

So lets dive in and look at both the innovations and oddities, shall we?

Background


While not really counting as an innovation at this point, it is still unusual that Superhero:44 has a (for the time) detailed setting.  Before this only Metamorphosis Alpha had a (very sketchy) setting, and Empire of the Petal Throne had a(n extensive) setting.  Many games published after this one, well into the 1980s, had no setting provided, or one that was so sketchy (like Metamorphosis Alpha's) that it made little difference.

The setting for Superhero:44 is Earth in the year (unsurprisingly) 2044 in the fictitious city of Inguria, "the city of the future".  This setting is intentionally kept small as an introductory set from which borders a campaign can spring out into a broader world as desired.  To cite the author's intent:

Superhero '44 can be played on many levels. The handicapping scenarios can be enjoyed as short games in themselves.  With the use of weekly planning sheets and patrol result calculation Superhero ' 44 can be maintained as a campaign over a long period of time.  It is also possible to use the combat system to play specially designed scenarios, commando raids, or situations actually taken from comics or novels. In the ultimate form it can be successfully combined with other similar games and inject novelty into other campaigns.


The island (Shanter Island) holding Inguria is located in the west Pacific in the area of Korea.  It's "future" history includes an Indian-Australian war and a six-day war in 2006 that's strongly hinted at being nuclear in nature.  In 2032 first contact with aliens from "Formalhaut" ...

You know what?  This is too much information to pack into a review.  Basically Inguria became the centre of "Formian" presence on Earth and also a hub of "uniques" and other crime-fighting (and criminal) types' activities.  In a few short pages the background covers history, technology, psychology, economics, politics (both earthly and with the aliens), and geography.  It's very densely packed with overview information: quite a shock for a game self-published in 1977!


Player Setup


Characters in Superhero:44 are defined by seven "prime requisites": Vigor, Stamina, Endurance, Mentality, Charisma, Ego, and Dexterity.  As a capsual summary, Vigor measures health; Stamina measures ... a lot: "offensive and defensive hand-to-hand righting ability, as well as the ability to run fast, hold one's breath, etc."; Endurance measures resistance to injury from various sources; Mentality covers intelligence and education; Charisma covers looks and strength of personality; Ego is the mental version of Endurance; Dexterity covers speed, reaction time, balance, hand-eye coordination, etc.

Huh.  No measurement for strength.  What an odd oversight.  It probably shows up in the powers or such, right?  (Foreshadowing: nope.)

Further, characters are members of one of three groups: Uniques (think Superman or the X-men), Toolmasters (think Batman or Iron Man), and Ubermensch (think Tarzan or, if you squint right, maybe Captain America).

To make a character, first a background has to be written up (!), and a character type selected.  Then the prime requisites are done up.  By point assignment.

This is, to my knowledge, the very first published RPG with a purely point-assigned character generation system.

There are three steps in assigning points.

1. Each character gets 140 points to distribute over the 7 prime requisites.  Each prime requisite must have at least 1 point after all the steps are gone through, but there is no upper limit.
2. Each character type gets modifications to prime requisites.  Uniques get +20 Charisma, for example, while an Ubermensch gets +20 to Endurance, Vigor, Stamina, and Dexterity, but -20 to Mentality.
3. At the discretion of the referee, a single, very specific +50 bonus can be given in a limited area.  For example a character may be given a +50 bonus to Vigor, but only vs. firearms.

And here, too, not only do we have the innovation of a point-assigned character generation.  We have the vestigial beginnings of full-blown advantage and disadvantage systems:

Some powers do not adapt well to this system, and alternate ways of representing abilities are certainly allowed if they can be quantified in some manner and do not unbalance the game.  Plus and minus additions on attacks may be given. Characters who accept weaknesses or disabilities (kryptonite, for instance) should be rewarded with extra power.

This is in 1977!

In case this onerous task of coming up with a background and 7 numbers is too much for the player to comprehend, the book helpfully provides three sample characters, one of each type.


Then it ... goes a little weird.  It goes straight into the "weekly planning sheet".  No introduction of the concept.  There's no game system talk yet aside from some tables showing the effect of (some!) prime requisites at various levels.  It just jumps from character generation (and prime requisite levels) into:

Each week each character must submit a planning sheet to the referee. This sheet should tell the status of a hero at the beginning of the week. The referee uses this information to calculate how many and what kind of crimes are encountered during the week.  He determines the result of each encounter, totals the rewards and bonuses, and notes any lawsuits, injuries, or captures before returning the sheet to the player.

And in the introduction the writer posits this as the default play, recall.  The planning sheet (which also doubles as a character sheet) is literally a schedule of when the character works, goes on patrol, changes in pecuniary circumstances, health issues, crime stats and ... well ... everything that in a more modern game would be played out live, not once a week by paperwork.  Very odd.

Then, finally, it gets to what we would consider the main body of rules (and entire point of the game!) these days.


Combat


OK, I'm being a little bit sarcastic.  Obviously the point of RPGs isn't just combat.  It is telling, however, that in most RPGs the rules for combat are long and detailed and the rules for social interactions or other non-combat forms of conflict are sketchy (if present at all) and vague.

This game doesn't have that problem.  It has no rules for anything that's not combat, really.  Combat is detailed and everything else is basically non-existent except in passing, like a drive-by shooting of rules only using whiffle balls instead of bullets.

So let's deal with what's actually in the rules before we look at what's not there except in very brief passing.

Combat is divided into turns.  Each turn has one round for each player or group.  In each round, a player (or group) may move twice, attack twice, or move once, then attack once.  (Never attack once, then move once.)  Attacks are one of four kinds: direct physical attack, transformation (?), mental attack, or projectile attack.  Mental and physical attacks are resolved using a universal combat matrix where a 3d6 roll must exceed or equal a target number, but transformation attacks are resolved using their own procedure on their own table.

The rules on initiative and ordering are confusing and contradictory.  Each turn has a round for each player or group.  Movement is simultaneous, but people with higher dexterity go first.  And then the sudden introduction of "phases" in the middle of a sentence changes the nature of the system entirely.  Damage is supposed to be applied at the end of all players' rounds, but the phases are such that someone is guaranteed at least one move before they're injured.  Despite damage applying at the end of all rounds.

The rules are not clear and not well thought-out, I'm trying to say.  (And I haven't even yet addressed the way powers are addressed or—foreshadowing!—aren't...)

Intermission: The full combat sequence is documented (for want of a better term) in a half page of badly-written and inconsistent rules plus a small handful of simple tables.  The total rules for this section (including damage, healing, and movement) amount to six pages, equally lacking in rigour.  This is very much a disease of old school rules, traditional dating back to the original 1974 Dungeons & Dragons rules.  As with that venerable rules set, instead of offering the oft-derided "rules for everything" it offers "rules for almost nothing, but what it does supply rules for is inconsistent and baffling".

Physical damage is done to vigor, to endurance, or to both.  Losing vigor represents actual injury while losing endurance represents pain and shock.  Different classes of attacks have different mixes of vigor or endurance loss and offer different modifications to stamina for the attack chart.  Projectile damage has the added minor complexity of dealing with locations hit.

Mental attacks don't do damage: they're instead illusions, mind control, etc. and once successful just continue being successful until circumstances change.

Transformation attacks are a catch-all category that includes actual transformation (like into stone, say), making lighter, heavier, or phased out or such.  (There is no real guidance given as to what that entails.)

Movement is dirt simple: you have a number of "inches" you can move per phase.  An inch is either 2 metres (10 second turns, the usual), or 500m (30 second turns, larger scale).  Your movement comes from a combination of your stamina, your species (if applicable), and any tools you may use to perform movement.

Oversights


While we should cut the game some slack, seeing as it is the first game of its kind ever, it needs to be pointed out how little this game actually provides in its rules.  I mentioned earlier that we saw vestigial advantages and disadvantages, but I glossed over just how vestigial, reserving this for when the rules got introduced.

There are no powers listed.  At all.  Any references to powers are mentioned only in passing.  They're mentioned, for example, in the sample characters:

Apollyon is a master of disguise and of computers. (His 50-point bonuses are gained in these areas.) His favorite disguise is that of some master criminal he has recently thrown into the power screens. (This MO raises his To Locate handicap somewhat and helps to balance out his high Prevention score.)


West has developed a weapon that disrupts matter and can be set to stun or completely disintegrate . It almost al ways works, so he is sued only aoout once a week.


Charmer uses her fifty charisma points as a mental attack and can force humans (only) to follow her vocal commands. Obedience is always literal and immediate. She uses this power to get money to hire investigators.


They're mentioned in passing in some rules:

Certain special powers may alter the sequence of combat. For instance, Super-speed will allow multiple attacks in one round. Some projectile weapons are capable of more than one shot per round. Players with high dexterity may be able to attack in more than one manner in a single round. Some kinds of attack require more than one turn to take effect.


This is an attempt to change the defender into some different object through magic, supertechnology or some unique power. Transformation may be to stone, ice, an animal, or may mean "phasing out ." It also may include making heavier, lighter, etc.


There is nothing systematic in coverage of these.  There's not even any words of guidance for how to assess impact and balance of these.  It's almost all Referee fiat (which is another disease of the old school gaming world).

And I can't really cut the game slack for this since there have been better rules written before this set.  Yes, RPGs as a concept were new.  Game rules, however, are game rules.  We've done better before this one by over a century.


Handicapping & Patrol


This forms the bulk of the actual rules of the game, and it is very telling what that signifies.  The default mode of play is something more reminiscent of GDW's 1975 proto-RPG En Garde.  In the handicapping and patrol system, the handicap is a score from "10 to 80" formed by adding together eight values ranked from 1 to 10.  (I'm seeing math problems here...)

The scores are in prevent, locate, stop, capture, convict, leads, damage, injured/captured.  Prevent is a measure of the character's patrols preventing crime from taking place at all, locate is a measure of finding crimes, capture is a measure of capturing criminals, damage is the tendency to cause collateral damage, etc.

These scores are used to design handicapping scenarios in which all eight areas are to be "tested".

Note, that this is the very first mention of handicapping scenarios and it offers no definition of what that is.  It's an adventure.  Probably.  How do we know?  There's an example of one and by inference...

"By inference" is a lousy way to deliver rules, in my opinion.  This is, again, a disease of the old school game seen time and again in the era.

Handicapping scenarios, however, are only the lead-in to patrols, which is a paperwork-intensive system (the paperwork having already been introduced, recall) in which the handicapping scenario is used to set the flavour of overall patrolling based on the handicaps the scenario set to determine the outcome of the character's patrolling.  The recommended rate is one weeks' worth of patrolling calculations per one week real play time.  The outcomes of this system include monetary expenditures and income, injuries sustained, lawsuits, etc.  In brief what would be the goal of actual RP in modern designs is relegated to a few dice rolls and calculations in the background, rather like En Garde's campaign system.

Unlike the slipshod, inconsistent, incomplete combat and "handicapping scenario" rules, however, I cut the patrol system some slack.  This is an early RPG and was written at a time when RPGs were still largely considered a branch of miniatures wargaming.  The systems provided are not to my taste (and likely not to the taste of many modern RPG players), but they are well-written, well-communicated, and do what they were intended to do.


Costs & Salaries

The rules close off with the traditional-for-the-times obsession with equipment lists and monetary costs.  Some of this builds up on the patrol system (salary, litigation, etc.) and some of it is just said lists.  It's a mercifully short section with simple, comprehensible rules.

Final Thoughts


And this brings us to the important part of the review: the one that answers the Three Questions:

1. What was the author trying to accomplish?
2. Did the author accomplish this?
3. Was it worth accomplishing?

The author was trying to write a set of rules for a specific style of half-skirmish level miniatures, half-old-timey RPG game that covered a genre that had not yet been covered.  And in this, once you filter for the times (where the entire notion of an RPG hadn't yet solidified!), he was largely successful.

It was not an unmitigated success, however.

While many of the "flaws" of the game can be accounted for by virtue of time-and-place filters, the complete lack of any kind of sensible guidance for superpowers in a game of superheroes is largely inexcusable.  I'm not looking for Champions-esque hyper-detailed book-keeping (oh GOD no!), but it would not be out of place, in a game about superheroes with superpowers, to have a few pages devoted to discussions about superpowers and how they might impact game play.

And then there's the bizarre omissions!  They name-drop Superman ... but the rules don't have anything related to strength.  Even back in 1977 the notion of "strength" wasn't an unusual one.  The three prior-published games had the notion and the game published the same year (Chivalry & Sorcery) also did.  How did the author overlook this?

And the fact that the rule are internally inconsistent or outright wrong (1×8=8, not 10!) in many places is also a pretty big red flag.

So was it worth the effort?

Superhero:44 has an important place in the history of RPGs, being first in an important genre, but its place is marred by the poor delivery of the rules and a design decision that put it out of the path of where the hobby eventually grew.  In my opinion the first really usable superhero role-playing game was 1980s Supergame.  (I'll bet you thought I was going to say Champions!)

hairylarry
Saturday morning join us for Inspired Unreality open game chat. Bring your own topic. All gaming is on topic.

Inspired Unreality is held every Saturday at 11:00 AM Central in the gamerplus chatrooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. For more information and a link, go here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Last week we discussed Fantasy and Science Fiction. Viv and I started with author recomendations and then went on to discuss the problems with making Fantasy and Science Fiction blockbuster movies and TV series. And then I totally went off on my idea of how to produce a very low budget youtube D&D series. It was great.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/4627

Next Saturday we'll be gaming at Eclectic Geekery playing a hybrid game around the table and on Discord. If you're up for a relaxing morning exploring Tobbins Shire with Ari and Caper plus Tude the wildcat and Clairen, the friendly bouncy Dwarf join us. It literally takes less than two minutes to roll up a new character in Just Quest and join the fun. We've decided that any kibitzing heard over the wall is The Ghost Of Tobbins Shire.

More here.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/4637

And if you're in the area here's a link to Eclectic Geekery.

https://www.facebook.com/eclecticgeekerystore

Vivian and I have started a new project, Guerilla Livestreaming Scenic Northeast Arkansas. Saturday afternoon we'll be streaming from Black Oak, Arkansas. If you're as old as me that name might ring a bell.

I'll be livestreaming from in front of the High On The Hog mural painted on brick. I've been a fan since their first album came out and I finally got to meet Jim Dandy at the KASU Arkansas Roots Festival. Now I get to play in Black Oak, Arkansas, in front of a mural memorializing the band.

Here's the website for our Guerilla Livestreaming Scenic Northeast Arkansas project. All of our new videos will be posted here.

https://deltaboogie.net/

Please forward this email to your gaming/livestreaming friends and share this link.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/944

Let me know what you've been doing, gaming or otherwise. Join us at Inspired Unreality, post on Gamer+, or contact me directly. We have so many creative people on Gamer+. I want to know what you're doing.

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
https://mastodon.social/@hairylarry
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com

hairylarry
Saturday, June 4, is the first Saturday of the month so our Inspired Unreality topic is Fantasy and Science Fiction. This is a broad subject including books, movies, tv, and games. Whatever type you like we will be glad to talk about it.

Now Viv and I are old, so we came to Fantasy and Science Fiction reading books and magazines. Some of the authors we read were Isaac Aasimov, Robert Heinlein, Fritz Lieber, Arthur C. Clark, Clifford Simak, and Andre Norton. If none of these names are familiar to you perhaps you need to spend some time with us.

There's a whole new world of the future out there in the past and there's not much new under the sun that wasn't predicted by some author 50 years ago.

I still read a lot of these golden age authors and none of them age as well as Jack Vance. In my opinion. Maybe you have an opinion too. Bring it with you to Inspired Unreality, open game chat, where, this week, all Fantasy and Science Fiction is on topic.

Inspired Unreality is held every Saturday at 11:00 AM Central in the gamerplus chat rooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. There's more info and a link here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Sarah and Megan have got the ball rolling at Eclectic Geekery with multiple events every weekend. They say "Join us for Dungeons & Dragons Sundays at 1 p.m." Sounds like a plan to me.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/4622

In two weeks we'll be adventuring in Tobbins Shire at Eclectic Geekery on Inspired Unreality. This will be a hybrid game with some players on Discord and some players sitting around a table. I'm always up for a challenge.

Everyone is welcome at Inspired Unreality. Come tomorrow, come to adventure in Tobbins Shire, come any Saturday at 11:00 AM Central. It's a blast.

And now, veering off topic, I've got a new project, Guerilla Livestreaming from scenic Northeast Arkansas. The idea is we take a short trip for a picnic and some chill jazz piano with plenty of nature in the background. Here's my Twitch link.

https://www.twitch.tv/hairylarryland

And my Youtube link.

https://www.youtube.com/hairylarryland

Do me a favor and click on the Youtube link and subscribe. I have a goal of reaching 1000 subscribers this year and I need your help.

Please forward this email to your gaming and livestreaming friends. Share this link.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/937

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
https://mastodon.social/@hairylarry
hairylarry@gmail.com

hairylarry
Join us for Inspired Unreality open game chat, Saturday at 11:00 AM Central. This week it's bring your own topic. We'll talk about whatever topic you bring, as long as it's gaming. Everyone is welcome.

Inspired Unreality is held in the gamerplus chat rooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. There's more info and a link here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Next week is the first Saturday in June so our topic will be Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Last week we were adventuring in Tobbins Shire around a table at Eclectic Geekery.

Our granddaughter Liz joined Vivian and myself to play Just Quest. She's playing a dwarf, Clairen, who is friendly and bouncy.

We woke up in Caper's hobbit hole and had a fine breakfast. Roughly-chopped turnips, baked crispy brown and served with a selection of chutneys. Also Beastie-shaped roast veggies that create visions of long-forgotten magic.

Then Caper served a sweet treat, A suspensefully swaying tower of sponge cake, liqueur, orange pieces and custard, topped with a layer of syllabub cream. (Now if I just knew what syllabub is)

Clairen wanted to head to town and make new friends so off we went. On the way we met Pogbert Piper blowing spectacular smoke rings in his garden. His smoke looked like soot from a roaring black hearth.

We all heard the ghost of the shire making smart ass comments about the game. (When we are playing in Tobbins Shire and a non player kibitzes they are providing the voice of the ghost of the shire.)

Not to be outdone Caper asked Pogbert for a pinch of bacca and he started blowing smokerings resembling long-gone monsters. He blew a huge ring which floated above their heads and then he blew a Gryphon that flew through the center of the ring.

Caper played a merry jig on his flute and every one was tapping their feet or hoeing in time to the music except Clairen who was bouncing up and down.

Then on to town and a visit to Mr. Muffin's second hand store. Clairen bought a yellow headband. Caper bought a black saddle for his pony. Ari looked at a brown saddle for her brown horse streaked with white but she wasn't convinced she needed it. Then back to the hobbit hole to try out the saddle. When they passed Pogbert  Piper's garden he was nowhere in sight. Probably inside for elevenses, which made Caper start to think about what they would eat for elevenses when they got back home.
---
We played using the dice rolling tables in Hearth & Hillside Home, Being a book of pastoral pleasures for Halflings and Bigfolk alike.

I posted the Just Quest character sheets to Gamer+.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/4565

I met someone on Mastodon who works at Calisphere, a library resource. I searched around and found some public domain posters.

https://gamerplus.org/newsfeed/4567

Please forward this email to your gaming friends and share this link.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/930

Thanks
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
https://mastodon.social/@hairylarry
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com

hairylarry

Our granddaughter Liz joined Vivian and myself at Eclectic Geekery to play Just Quest. She's playing a dwarf, Clairen, who is friendly and bouncy.


We woke up in Caper's hobbit hole and had a fine breakfast. Roughly-chopped turnips, baked crispy brown and served with a selection of chutneys. Also Beastie-shaped roast veggies that create visions of long-forgotten magic.


Then Caper served a sweet treat, A suspensefully swaying tower of sponge cake, liqueur, orange pieces and custard, topped with a layer of syllabub cream. (Now if I just knew what syllabub is)


Clairen wanted to head to town and make new friends so off we went. On the way we met Pogbert Piper blowing spectacular smoke rings in his garden. His smoke looked like soot from a roaring black hearth.


We all heard the ghost of the shire making smart ass comments about the game. (When we are playing in Tobbins Shire and a non player kibitzes they are providing the voice of the ghost of the shire.)


Not to be outdone Caper asked Pogbert  for a pinch of bacca and he started blowing smokerings resembling long-gone monsters. He blew a huge ring which floated above their heads and then he blew a Gryphon that flew through the center of the ring.


Caper played a merry jig on his flute and every one was tapping their feet or hoeing in time to the music except Clairen who was bouncing up and down.


Then on to town and a visit to Mr. Muffin's second hand store. Clairen bought a yellow headband. Caper bought a black saddle for his pony. Ari looked at a brown saddle for her brown horse streaked with white but she wasn't convinced she needed it. Then back to the hobbit hole to try out the saddle. When they passed Pogbert  Piper's garden he was nowhere in sight. Probably inside for elevenses, which made Caper start to think about what they would eat for elevenses when they got back home.


---


We played using the dice rolling tables in Hearth & Hilside Home, Being a book of pastoral pleasures for Halflings and Bigfolk alike.




hairylarry
Inspired Unreality! Saturday, May 20. Live from Eclectic Geekery in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Adventure with us in Tobbins Shire. Join Ari and Caper for breakfast and then we'll see where that leads. We'll explore the shire or explore the woods. Maybe even find a cave. It's all up to the players.

Cast of characters:

Arimeth (Ari) - A human healing witch who has been working with the Milyagon witch brewing teas.

Tude - Ari's wildcat. A pet, not a familiar, Tude comes to Ari's waist and is a formidable defender. Tude only speaks cat but is very intelligent, possibly more intelligent than most humans.

Caper Tobbins - Ari's sidekick, a halfling bard and the DM PC.

Insert your character here. It literally takes 2 minutes to create a character in Just Quest. Honestly, the most time consuming part is making up the PC's name.

Get your character sheet here.

https://gamerplus.org/photo/useralbum/hairylarry/124

We are going to try a hybrid game, around the table and on the internet. If you can't make it to Eclectic Geekery join us on Inspired Unreality.

Inspired Unreality is held every Saturday morning at 11:00 AM Central in the gamerplus chatrooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. More info in the right sidebar here.

https://gamerplus.org/index

Here's a link to the Just Quest rules minizine.

https://www.minizines.cc/flat/?x=entry:entry200105-065552

Here's a link to the Gamer+ Group, Tales Of Milyagon, including some session summaries from recent games.

https://gamerplus.org/groups/4

And one more Milyagon link, "Yon Rogar’s Hat" a short story I wrote about Wilken Woods, the magic forest that lies between Milyagon and Tobbins Shire.

https://sffshortstories.com/?x=entry:entry190818-150004

Enjoy!

Please forward this email to your gaming friends and share this link.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/918

Thanks,
Hairy Larry
https://gamerplus.org/user/hairylarry
https://mastodon.social/@hairylarry
hairylarry@deltaboogie.com



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