Leigh Cliffs and Fantasy Wargaming

A little more information has surfaced…I’ll post the email with the firsthand info if I can get permission as there is a lot of interesting stuff but the bottom line is that Kevin Prior assisted Bruce Galloway in creating the Leigh Cliffs scenario which was played over a weekend with a large number of players and hundreds of NPCs (& lots of jokes, for example a neighborhood of dwarf with a statue described as exactly like Disney’s Snow White).  Kevin & Bruce both enjoyed coming up with characters & plots.

Anyway Leigh Cliffs was a medieval village with dark secrets and Nick Lowe’s earlier message about a modern detective game was actually called something else (Malham Tarn).

Leigh Cliffs had some of the early ideas that would go into FW but it’s not clear if the rules were derived from D&D, T&T, or some wargame.  Bruce Quarrie evidently played in both Leigh Cliffs and Malham Tarn, for what that’s worth.

Kevin dates Leigh Cliffs and the work on FW as being completed by 1980, which I suspected. He doesn’t think the FW rules were play tested as written, which has long been conjectured by critics but I did not expect to be true.  The most intriguing thing Kevin has told me though is that Bruce Galloway gave him a box of notes for Leigh Cliffs and expected him to edit it into something publishable, some time after FW was finished and probably about the time Bruce left gaming for political activism.

Published in: on September 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Chello!

    It would be wonderful to have that manuscript even in raw form….!


    • It sure would. As you’ll see in the next post, though, it sounds like the notes were discarded long ago. However, the good news is that there may be surviving copies of an “after action report” written up by Bruce Galloway for the participants, which, with luck, could turn up. Fingers crossed.

  2. That’s pretty fascinating. So FW wasn’t playtested, who would have guessed?

    • Hey now — there is conflicting information on this. On the one hand the Leigh Cliffs game seems to have had some of the basics of the FW system as its rules, and that was a played. On the other, Nick said the rules were tested as they went. Neither Kevin nor Nick were involved in any full-on playtesting, but neither were “gamers” per se. Kevin mainly enjoyed roleplaying NPCs (doing voices, characters, etc.) and Nick was more into the sci-fi/literary scene. If anyone did real play testing it would have fallen on Bruce Galloway, Bruce Quarrie, Paul Sturman, and Mike Hodson-Smith. The two Bruces are dead and Paul and Mike have eluded me. So let’s not jump to conclusions.

      I have a feeling they must have played something like FW, even if not exactly as written. Don’t forget that neither Dave Arneson nor Gary Gygax actually played D&D as it was written either. Gary played something close to OD&D plus the Greyhawk supplement and many house rules; Arneson’s game was apparently a different animal altogether. And yet D&D is still is a playable game. As is FW, IMO.

      • Very good point. I guess one sometimes forgets that until it’s published, these games don’t, in a certain sense, exist! I don’t doubt FW must have been played in some form before it was printed… maybe even in a more playable form than the book ended up being.

        • It certainly didn’t help that PSL didn’t do any real editing on their end and had no experience publishing RPGs. But ultimately despite my own protestations, I still haven’t tried playing it as written either. Though I am more interested than ever in the temptation, bravery, and leadership mechanics because it was one of the first and few games to have mechanics that strip control of the character from the player on a regular basis. (The only others I can think of are GURPS, with the “Fright” rules, and maybe Pendragon.

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