Thursday, January 13, 2011

RPG Nostalgia (Part II): I was a TSR Zombie

The TSR Monopoly on RPGs

Because TSR was responsible for D&D (Basic, Expert, Advanced), I was fairly certain they were the only company putting this stuff out. But thank goodness they were covering various genres (a word that I didn't even comprehend at that age). Shopping at such magical -- and difficult to get to places (again: Grade School, Kid, Philippines, 1970s) -- like Nova Fontana, Gold Crest, Lil's Hobby Shop, and Squadron Shoppe, and National Book Store (okay, there were many of these, but not all of them carried D&D) I eventually discovered two other RPGs: Top Secret and Star Frontiers.

Top Secret was my first non-D&D purchase, as a classmate had already purchased Star Frontiers. Why waste the money? Eventually, after exhausting the limited genre fiction understandable and available to a grade school student growing up in Martial Law Philippines, I began expanding the boundaries of an ongoing hobby: reading RPGs. I picked up Alpha Dawn, and began collecting whatever available modules there were for my three RPG rulesets.

The obsession never left me. Even when I failed to run those rare game sessions properly. Even when I was waylaid by various gamebook series (Choose Your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks back when only Warlock of Firetop Mountain was out, and Be An Interplanetary Spy!).

When I got to high school, I heard rumors about a non-TSR RPG about superheroes. Champions, it was called. I was intrigued, but never actually got to see it (except as an ad in someone's oh-so-rare Dragon magazine) until I got to the U.S.

Of course by then it was Champions 3rd Edition, since I fell in with other gaming groups with other preferences. I often wonder what my reaction would have been if I'd been able to experience a 1st Edition Champions game in the Philippines in  my formative gaming years.

But that's okay. I learned about gods from various pantheons, practiced pronouncing words like Yazirian, Vrusk, and Dralasite, and became familiar with the game superiority of a 9mm Browning High-Powered Self-Load pistol.

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