Monson On Playing and Wargaming

Author: DHBoggs /

More of my discussion with Blackmoor Original Player Chuck Monson.  Again, my questions in italics:

 Did (do?) you prefer tabletop wargaming over D&D style dungeon delving?

I like both styles of gaming.  Role playing is a great deal of fun for me because I like to be involved in stories with other players.  I like the spontaneity of play and the creativity of adventures.  I also consider myself an avid table top miniatures wargamer for historical wargames: Napoleonic land battles being a favorite period. Wesley's Strategos N was a lot of fun, but too siege oriented at times (the Totten effect).  All in all, after nearly forty years of this hobby, role playing remains a favorite pastime.   

 In the First Fantasy Campaign you are mentioned in a section where it says: "Later, the game moved south....  Major border changes occurred when Monson was wiped out....  Significant event included a Nomad attack from the Duchy of Ten that was wiped out by Svenson and the Sniders. A great Peasant revolt that wiped out Monson, badly hurt Nelson and was then wiped out by all the other players. An expedition to the City of the Gods (located in the Desert south of Monson's old place)..."    Was the peasant revolt mentioned in the paragraph a tabletop battle you played out?   

I remember gathering forces and building a strong point to defend.  I don't think any of us there knew what to expect.  David had his fun too.  Yes, my great plans fell awry.  The first 'fall' was pretty hard fought, but overwhelming invaders.  That was when I figured out the meaning of 'Ten'... David multiplied the opponents by huge numbers and stomped his way through the defenses.  A second defense was even more crushed, but noting the game history, it took all the other players to counter the events.  As I can't remember any table top battle, likely not.  There would have been heaps of figures on the tables, the floor, the stairs...  LOL.    

 Did you have anything to do with the Duchy of Ten Nomads or the Peshwa?

No, I had nothing to do with the Nomads or the Peshwa. 

Did you adventure at all in the City of The Gods?

No, I did not venture to the City.  I was after all only a weekend visitor from 150 miles away.  
Did "Monson's old place" have a name?

It was only a place for the one battle.  No one was left alive to remember a name, or didn't care to do so.  LOL.  

I've made the argument that Arneson was using a variant of Weselys Strategos N, since that's what those guys seemed to have used for everything, but others have thought that he was probably using CHAINMAIL by Gygax and Perren to resolve the battles.  Any idea?

I thought David was winging it much of the time and used brief references on notepaper at best.  Certainly no copy of Chainmail or other rules clarified his numeric horde armies.  I never saw anyone referencing Chainmail after the earliest of days.  I picked up a copy of CM perhaps ten years later, then lost it.    

I found the tales of who influenced whom very typical for revisionists wanting intellectual property control.  In reality, gamers 30 or more years ago really adapted from many sources, including literature and actual games.  Had anyone thought to ask from where did Chainmail derive its data and terminology?  CM is not the font of all being in RPG, just another reference with a muddied history. Personally, I am more convinced that Tony Bath has the earliest published common source.  Then again, there are WWII simulation rules that formulate a single soldier running through sand firing an SMG (Korne's Rules).  A gaming buddy and I used to name our characters to play on a sand table we built in his basement.     


Scott Anderson said...

This is tremendous. It's refreshing to see one of the fellows put a pin in the puffed-up balloon of importance that we all sometimes lend to CM and "official rules" generally.

Dave was winging it.


Phil Dutré said...

Chainmail itself is itself indeed standing on the works of others (see also Playing at the World). Personally, I agree with the notion that Bath had (unknowningly) a large influence on the development of these rules. I also see the birth of roleplaying and dungeon-exploration as a new gaming format, rather than a new set of rules. The novelty of D&D is not in the combat rules, but the campaign rules and the progression of character.

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