Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adding to the Collection

[FYI: sorry for the delay in posting; I won’t bother going into excuses for the several day lay-off as nothing was going on worth mentioning…I’m back for now]

Over the years I’ve played, owned, borrowed, and browsed many MANY role-playing games. To say I’m an avid gamer would be a bit of an understatement. “Connoisseur” isn’t too much of a stretch, especially over the last 20+ years when I’ve delved into various RPGs, analyzed, compared, and played them for my own pleasure.

But that of course is NOW. Prior to being a “connoisseur,” a better term might have been “game whore” as I went through a several year period of purchasing/collecting all sorts of RPGs with little regard for the actual game systems and nothing that could be called a discerning eye.

Which is fine and dandy. The point of games is to have fun playing ‘em, and though I may treat the hobby with a highbrow (or pretentious!) attitude these days, I feel I’ve cut my teeth on enough trash to be able to weigh in with my opinion. Some may not agree but, hey…it’s my blog.

Now having said all THAT, prior to becoming an eclectic collector I was an absolutely DEVOUT follower of TSR…I may have PLAYED other games but I certainly didn’t spend my hard-earned cash on ‘em. I know, I know…this sounds a little odd. Let me give you some examples.

B/X D&D was my first RPG. Pure and simple. It evolved into AD&D, a game I played for many years with a select circle of friends…up until age 14 or 15. However, even before I stopped playing AD&D (a hiatus that would last…well, I still haven’t gone back to 1st edition AD&D really), I played a number of games with this same circle of friends, but generally games they were bringing to the table:

- Jocelyn had ElfQuest, James Bond, Twilight2000…perhaps a couple others I’m forgetting

- Scott had BattleTech/MechWarrior, Shadow Run, as well as GURPS and Beyond the Supernatural (these latter two having VERY short runs in our camp)

- Rob had Classic Traveller and James Bond

- Jason introduced us to Marvel Superheroes (which we all bought into big time, picking up the Advanced Set and playing the hell out of); he also had some Christian version of D&D called Dragon Light or some such

Now in addition to D&D, I had copies of Gamma World, Top Secret, and of course Boot Hill. These were as much for cross-genre exploration (via the DMG) as anything else. I also owned Marvel (Basic and Advanced) and Star Frontiers which we had fun playing…but you’ll notice that all of these games are all published by the TSR stable.

By the time I finally started investing in other games in the late 80s/early 90s (Chaosium, Palladium, White Wolf), I had missed out on a whole slew of RPGs that had been published, advertised (in Dragon and elsewhere), and gone down the tubes…all before I’d taken my “TSR blinders” off. Oh, some were still around in 2nd editions (West End Star Wars for example) or under new flags of ownership (I picked up DragonQuest in its SSI incarnation). But others had dried up completely.

One such group was FGU: Fantasy Games Unlimited.

Aftermath, Bushido, Villains & Vigilantes…the ads for FGU games had always stood out for me from the pages of Dragon magazine as a kid. But with little disposable income and even less of a PLAN for getting my hands on new games (I was more interested in playing the games I already owned), I failed to get a single FGU system when they were in their heyday. Now, of course, I’ve heard ample good things about these games from the folks that cut their teeth on THEM as kids, but I dislike buying things off eBay and you just don’t see ‘em stocking the game shelves in the Used section.

Well, until a couple days ago. That’s when I was able to pick up the box set of Villains & Vigilantes for $5.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I am an absolute sucker for superhero games…the quest to find the perfect Supers RPG is a Quixotic one, and probably one that will ultimately prove impossible. And yet I keep trying (no, I have heretofore refused to purchase Mutants & Masterminds…sucker, yes, but there are some lines I try desperately not to cross). And V&V is a game I’ve been wanting for YEARS.

I’m sure it’s due to a couple different things, this hopeless yearning of mine. Reason one, of course, is “The Quest;” not ever owning V&V how could I know if my Grail search might end could I just get my hands on a copy? But the foremost reason is those damn little ads in the old Dragon magazine…little character blurbs, complete with cool little stat lines that made me say, “wow, why the hell aren’t I playing THIS cool game.” I should point out for the record that not one of my friends was interested in playing a supers RPG until the advent of Marvel…I was the only one that ever seemed interested in combining the fiddly stats of AD&D with comic book characters.

Well, fine…I’ve got it now and…hmmmmmmmm…

Full review of V&V follows.


  1. FGU is selling reprints of most of their games at their website. It's the original games and text and all, but it hasn't been sitting around in a warehouse, and they've replaced box sets with single volumes and such. I just picked up Privateers and Gentlemen, one of the ones I missed at the time for reasons that I have never been able to figure out. I was a huge Horatio Hornblower fan, why did I keep looking at that box and saying, "Nah, I think I'll by something from Yaquinto instead"? Man, it is totally awesome (if you're a fan of age of the sail).

  2. I LOVE the Age of Sail..."Master & Commander" is one of my favorite (owned) DVDs and I am a sucker for any ship-to-ship games/stories. I will certainly have to check out Privateers and Gentlemen (I am NOT a huge fan of pirate RPGs but anything Horatio Horblower style piques my interest!). Thanks for the suggestion!
    : )