Cover to cover: Bruce Galloway’s Fantasy Wargaming

The “Cover to cover” series of blog posts about OD&D over at Sham’s Grog & Blog* inspired James at Grognardia to start a Holmes cover to cover series, and so far it has been very interesting, as I haven’t seen the Holmes book in about 30 years, and never read it at all.

But what I have read cover to cover is Bruce Galloway’s Fantasy Wargaming. It was the first set of rules I ever DMed, and for a long time it was a game my brother & I wanted to play. The problem was always finding players, and also the terrible organization and complexity of the rules. But we pored over it, and made up character sheets (on a Commodore 64!), and rolled up many, many PCs. I even made a series of sketches and statted up monsters I’d read about in myth & folklore, but I imagine that sketchbook is lost forever.

Anyway since I found a nice book club edition of the rules, I thought I should take the opportunity to provide a similar cover-to-cover service! I intend to beginning reading FW on my breaks at work, and taking notes, which will be the basis for a series of posts here, giving an overview of the book and some analysis of the rules. Who knows, maybe I’ll even inflict it on my gaming group some time, or run it at a con!

You might ask, “Why?” Well, there are a number of reasons, some of which will come up as I read, but mainly I think this game deserves to be rehabilitated. Everyone snarks about how it is disorganized and unplayable and I think only the first part there is true. Others have claimed it is inherently bigoted or filled with anti-D&D rants and anti-Christian and more (no, really, see the Dragonsfoot threads!). I don’t think so but let’s read this through and see what we find.

*Save or die! has a related project of building a world based exclusively on published TSR D&D material (he calls it “The ultimate sandbox”), and introducing it to the milieu in the order published, which I still think is an awesome idea too, and his blog has attempted to do a sort of cover-to-cover reading of OD&D, the supplements, and the Strategic Review and The Dragon. I think he moved on to the Holmes “blue book” right before Grognardia did.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 10:00 am  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I look forward to reading this series!

    • Me Too! I might even break out my copy and read along.

  2. This is going to be awesome!

  3. I used to have a copy of this, but lost it years ago. I remember the rules being very disorganized, but also remember some interesting discussion about setting up a campaign world.

  4. Cool – should be fun, and nice to know I wasn’t the only person who played it or took it seriously once upon a time. It’s hard not to poke fun at but there are some interesting ideas (example!) in there as well.

  5. I look forward to figuring out how the game was actually played. We tried (a friend and I) when we were about 16, but never completely figured it out.

  6. It’s a really interesting book to read through, with many good ideas and things to consider about fantasy, history, and gaming. It also has quite a different feel from D&D.

    I don’t agree with a lot of the negative things people claim about it, though of course it truly is disorganized (like D&D wasn’t?) It also seems math-heavy, as in, calculate things each time you use them, rather than note them on the character sheet.

    I have not played it though… looking forward to your series. Maybe it will inspire someone to retro-clone this game and make it more “playable”!

  7. Hi!

    My name is K. David Ladage, and I am currently running a Kickstarter Campaign to re-release The Arcanum, another classic RPG from the 80s. I was able to acquire the rights to this game from Steve Sechi (the original author).

    I have had six copies of Fantasy Wargaming over the years; I have two of the full-sized versions to this day (and I am always on the lookout for others in good shape). I know this is a 3+ year old post; but I am hoping you can help me track down who owns the rights to this book currently.

    Thanks in advance.

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