A ghost of a fantasy club past

In my day job, I catalog materials for a large public research library. Among the the materials I’ve worked on are a fairly vast number of high school year books. I don’t really have time to page through them, beyond the basic information gathering I need to do my job, but occasionally I’ll leaf through a volume or two to gawk at embarrassing senior photos and what not. The last few runs of year books I looked at had sections on the clubs and activities, and I’ve looked in a few to see if there is any evidence of D&D clubs or similar in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the game was at it’s height of popularity. So far no dice.

I don’t remember there being anything like that when I was in high school in the late 1980s, although I did find an excellent gaming club in college. I’ve read pretty frequently about wargame/gaming clubs in the golden age though and I’ve been curious about whether they left any evidence behind.

Anyway I just stumbled across this high-school newsletter from October 1976, which mentions a club that played D&D and Empire of the Petal Throne. One of the members even claims to be a D&D “champion” in another wargames club. Check it out, and don’t miss the survey on the last page about what the paper’s next comic strip should be, and which has illustrations that could be straight out of the LBBs… or Arduin. The article on the club was in OCR so I cut & paste here:

Fantasy Club Formed
By John Christian
Every day from 1 :25 to 4:00, a unique group gathers in one of the A-hall rooms. If you were to listen, you would hear some strange speech and the rattle of dice .
This group i s Fantasy Unlimited. They gather to play fantasy war games such as Dungeonsand Dragons and Empire of the Petal Throne. These games are taken from the novels of Tolkien, Lieber, Burroughs and others. The fourteen or so people who play al l seem to love the games.
The club was started by Peter Lord, Roy Linthicum and Adam Arffa to promote fantasy war games. The group is looking for new members and has beginner games as well as the 4 games for the experienced player.
Peter Lord and Roy Linthicum have been playing for 2 years. Linthicum is the Dungeons and Dragons Champion for the Council of 5 Nations, a wargame club.

Anyone know these guys?

Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm  Comments (12)  
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  1. Linthicum was never champion for the Council of 5, what a load of BS! He and his little sidekick sycophant Peter totally made that up even though four other kids saw my 7th level assassin take out Roy’s idiot cleric the summer before. What a crock!

    Great find btw. 😉 What are “the 4 games for the experienced player” anyhow?

  2. I think the “4” is an artifact of cutting & pasting from a pdf. I’ll edit that out.

    But — it would be pretty funny if there was some kind of hierarchy of games-snobbery already in 1976! D&D, EPT, Boot Hill, and Metamorphosis Alpha, versus those upstarts T&T, Bunnies & Burrows, and En Garde! 1976…Traveller wasn’t even out then.

    • OK, it is not an error; theo riginal refers to “the 4 games” so maybe they mean there are four established games going? Or an earlier draft mentioned four games and the editor cut a paragraph? Or perhaps some something much more sinister afoot. God catch, Bulette, I didn’t even pick up on that phrase.

  3. I did a search for both Roy Linthicum and Adam Arffa and got hits for Facebook, Linked In, etc. You should totally interview these guys.

    • Yeah, looks like one is an IT guy now; not sure about the other. Peter Lord … wasn’t he in Deep Purple? 🙂 Actually he turns up too.

      OK, I’ll do it. Maybe they will talk to me. Who knows. Gotta find out about the D&D championships. I hope it was a steel cage match.

      • love it

      • Great, looking forward to it! 😀

  4. No flies on Mikey. The net is cast, maybe I’ll be able to find out more:
    http://www.swa-gaming.org/node/1579

  5. My kingdom for a scanner! I have a very spiffy blue foil certificate thingy from Finn Hill Junior High School (Kirkland, WA) that states I participated in the following activities during the 80-81 school year (ahem): 1st Rollroom Representative, Honor Society, and…wait for it…Dungeons & Dragons (club)!

    Now I just need to find my FHJH yearbooks and see if there are any pics of the D&D club. I’m pretty sure Mr. Iverson (Social Studies teacher) allowed us to use his classroom as our lair. I also have a less-fancy paper certificate for participating in Rocket Club as well. D&D and Estes Rockets…sweet!

    And yes, I did have a sweet feathered-back hairdo and gray Members Only jacket. You got a problem with that?

  6. Union College (Schenectady, NY) had an official student club called “When Diplomacy Fails” in the 70s. D&D became a big part of the gaming.

  7. Adam Arffa here. Didn’t know that we would be famous some day for our lunch hour pass time.

    • Welcome!
      My handfuls for readers would love to here more about the D&D Champion of the Council of 5 Nations. Was that more like a “judicial champion” position (maybe they play D&D on behalf of the Council leadership?) or a title earned in some kind of competition? Who is the champion now? How might one issue a challenge?
      Seriously though always interested in oral history. Comment away, or let me know if you’d be interested in an inteview.


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