Giants of the Imagination
October 23, 2016
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If you take some time to read what the early rpg designers had read, you will see that they almost compulsively lifted material from pulp and new wave writers. The most surprising thing about this is the extent to which they passed over the grand masters of Campbellian science fiction. The authors that are synonymous with the field seemed to hold not one iota of attraction or influence to them. Mike Mearls thinks almost entirely in terms of television and movies. These things had a negligible impact on the first wave of rpg designers. For them it was short stories and novellas and short novels from dozens of authors that were primary. There was no “big three” for them: they read everything they could get their hands on.
Looking for Asimov and Heinlein and Clarke in your seventies rpgs…? You’re just not going to find them– not, at least, in the games that got a lot of play. Those guys might be synonymous with science fiction today, but they had very little impact on what actually drove peoples’ imaginations then. Compared to guys like Jack Vance, E. C. Tubb, and Jerry Pournelle they were insignificant.
Read them for yourself and you’ll see: the authors that inspired the rpg designers in the seventies don’t just provide an unparalleled entertainment value. They are also a perfect fit for tabletop gaming and will change the way they you view both science fiction and science fiction gaming.
For more on this, see my posts over at the Castalia House blog:
And as always, please support my researches in to rpg and sff history by purchasing your paperbacks through the Amazon links on the book images you see here.