Sunday, October 23, 2011

1982: Role-playing Infancy and Infantry

I officially declare 1982 as "The Year of the RPG Sucker!" That was the year that saw mainstream outlets like Waldenbooks scrambling to stock their shelves for gaming enthusiasts primed for the hustle. That was the year I bought The Highest Level of All Fantasy Wargaming. (To this day, I still have a particular fondness for Margaret Welbank's illustrations from the book.) It was also the year that I that I bought Daniel Douglas Hutto and Roger Allen Esnard's Space Infantry.

I won't get into detail about the system mechanics or offer too deep a review; you can find that here. The real point of this post is not to criticize, but rather praise. You have to applaud any gamer back then with his own set of rules for having the wear-with-all to organize said ruleset, then dig into their pockets to pay for production and printing (which included typesetting, paste-ups, filmwork and stripping, plates, and then the biggest expense of all... offset printing, because digital printing wouldn't begin to be an option for a couple of decades plus.)

I think more than any other game I ever owned (even D&D), Space Infantry may be the most responsible for my deciding to create my original edition of The System on my dad's Wang (ahem) and copy machine. (It was all I could afford.)

I think we now all take for granted for the ease of the personal computer and the downright bargain of print-on-demand services like Ka-Blam and Lulu. It's led to some really interesting offerings like X-plorers and Planet Eris. Unfortunately, it's also led to some blatant copyright infringement in an attempt to turn a profit.

I always have an appreciation for those who do it for the love of the hobby, regardless of the quality level of the content, mechanics, or layout. It's the scam artists and opportunists that disgust me.

Cover and first 3 pages from The System,
self-published in 1985.


  1. this is fabulous, i would love so much to own a copy of that. I crave for obscure rpg's, both fantasy and sci-fi ones.
    Did this ever pop up on ebay? anyway, thanks for the four pages scan you provided.

    And i quite agree with you, i admire those guys back in time, they really had balls and didn't shun fatigue in order to reach publication of what was in their minds. now evryone is lazy because with a single click you can obtain virtually everything.

  2. AH! I had this and I loved it! It got lost somewhere in the early 90's and I couldn't remember what it was called, thanks for this post.