Fan Interview #1
June 22, 2018
I’ve been giving a lot of interviews about TFT recently (two have been posted so far -- EnWorld and Mike Meeple -- with more to come), and this just turns the idea around – I “interviewed” the fans on the forum and asked various questions about their TFT play. Here’s the first question.
What’s your best memory from a TFT game?
My favorite memory is seeing Melee on the shelf at my local hobby store as a freshman in high school. I had no idea what an RPG or fantasy board game was—but I had to have it. It was my gateway drug.
I had been GM'ing TFT for a few years, and a new fellow, Andrew, joined us from our school gaming club. He had never played an RPG before, but I explained how to write up a character and gave him the basics of combat. Then his character walked into a bar, ordered a drink, and started talking with the other players. There was a rumor of an illegal gargoyle-harvesting gang that the party might take a bounty to stop.
A local bully was making trouble, picking on people and throwing his weight around. Then the bully shoved Andrew's face into his drink and said, "Get out of MY chair."
Andrew drew his sword and killed the bully on the spot.
There was a silence, everyone had scrambled back from the spot and Andrew found himself alone in a circle with two dozen men staring at him. "He didn't even have his knife out," someone said. "He killed him," someone else said. Several people had their hands on their knife hilts.
Then the bar patrons cheered, saying they had never liked the bastard, and that he “needed killing,” and they were slapping Andrew's character on the back, cheering him and buying him drinks.
Andrew said to me, “I WAS THERE! I could SEE that bar. I was wondering if they would lynch me!”
Andrew became a fanatic player of RPGs and bought everything TFT that Metagaming published.
It was the nicest compliment I ever got as a GM.
– Rick Smith
In 1978 the only games I knew were Melee, 1E AD&D (the serious big-boy game), and En Garde! (which has ignominiously slipped beneath the water line, but deserved better...). My best friend that year introduced me to gaming, and we played one of these daily for months, often during lunch hour at school. It eventually occurred to us that what we really needed was to figure out how to keep playing during class.
It seemed like Melee was our best move because it only used six-sided dice, and every school kid in the 1970s knew that pencils have six sides. So we carefully marked numbers on some old pencils, figured out how to sit across the aisle from each other, and one of us slid a Melee map and a couple of Danforth markers inside the pages of a book. Cue hours of surreptitious blood-soaked hilarity!
I've been playing TFT for 40 years now, and there are literally hundreds of “favorite” moments from the game, but one that stands out from our early experiences is the time our group of four adventurers were setting out from Dranning for Bendwyn en route to stop some brigandage that had been reported near there (this was our first assignment from the Duke of Dran – more as a test of our abilities than anything, since brigands weren't supposed to be all that challenging to members of the Ducal Guard! We couldn't afford much armor because we opted to buy horses instead, so if memory serves it was pretty much cloth and leather for us. Foolishly, none of us picked a Wizard for a character (it was just some bandits, and besides, we all wanted to be guardsmen, not some namby-pamby scholarly type . . .)
As we were riding down the road, a giant Lizard emerged from a nearby copse of woods. The GM ruled that the smell of lizard freaked out our horses, which immediately began bucking to throw us and escape from the lizard. Sadly, not one of us had thought to take Riding (we were still trapped in the Melee footsoldiers paradigm when we created these first full-up characters) and three of us were promptly thrown from our horses, while the fourth one was completely turned around. All the while, the lizard was charging at full speed. He hit the first character at about 30 MPH, inflicted some hits (I don't remember how many) and knocked him back about 10 feet from the impact...into character number two who was just standing up. Both of them went down again in a heap. Character #3 (me) immediately attacked the lizard, only to wildly miss my swing, dropping my weapon in the process. The Lizard proceeded to destroy me, inflicting a triple damage attack on me and rolling a six, killing me right there on the spot. Character 4 had just gotten his horse under control (right behind my character) when the GM ruled that all the blood from my spectacular demise spooked the horse again, and off he went into another series of bucks, throwing character #4 this time. Characters 1 and 2 were by now just getting back up, and the lizard attacked them, again rolling lucky (double damage with a five, as I recall) on the already wounded character (#1) and killing him. Character #2 got a hit on the lizard (finally, some payback!) and the lizard chomped him for a few hits, and then turned on character #4 who had just gotten up, charging across my dead body to attack him. Character #3 saw his chance, and charged the rear of the lizard, also crossing my dead body, and failing his DX roll in the process, which caused the GM to rule that he had slipped on the blood around me and fallen again. By this time character #4 was in real trouble, having been hit several times and suffering from -DX modifiers due to his weakened state. He tried to disengage and run, and that was it, the lizard hit him while he was disengaging and killed him. Character #2 had, by now, regained his feet for the third time when the lizard turned on him and attacked. Incredibly, another triple damage hit with a five for the hits. Down he went, dead as a doornail.
Total Party Kill, from a freaking lizard, in less than two minutes without ever getting anywhere near actually starting the adventure. We still laugh about that one 37 years later.
First time I played, I was playing an elven fighter using a spear... and ran my opponent through due to a lucky roll of a 3, and killed my opponent right off.
– ak aramis
G.E.V. was the first microgame I bought, in 1978. I showed my friends and we all became microgame fanatics. We loved Melee, Wizard, and Death Test, going so far as to make an Odysseus vs. the Cyclops scenario with a heavily decorated map for English class, freshman year in high school.
TFT came out during the summer between my 8th grade and 9th grade, right before my friends and I went to high school. We had tried Basic D&D (blue box) but that was very unsatisfying next to Melee and Wizard, especially considering that TFT was supposed to come out in 1978 (we had been waiting sooooo long for it by the time it came out in 1980)!
We played in earnest, at least 5 hours every Saturday and at hotels when we went on band trips (yes, most of us were in band, go figure). Sometimes playing the Lord of the Rings soundtrack in the background (not the one from that CGI movie, the original one from the cartoon).
We played a couple campaigns that lasted for more than a year. I did my first tag-team GMing in TFT, with my friend Chris, and we had such a blast!
We made a tradition of playing TFT every new year's eve, from around 6pm to 3am or 4am and we continued the tradition after we all went to different universities.
My friend Fritz would almost always GM. At some point around or after midnight, we would get punchy, with several hours still to go. Eventually, Fritz would decree that the confluence of Monty Python references and bad jokes had summoned an infernal Prootwaddle: a Lousy Joke Demon. One time a Prootwaddle demon appeared perched on the light saber of my friend Guy's character.
The best times we had as kids were centered around playing TFT -- it was like scenes in E.T. and Stranger Things, only we were playing such a better system :).
I suppose the ones I remember best as uniquely TFT were to do with “Powdered-Dragon Bone” or gunpowder as the rules had it.
In my TFT world only the dwarves knew the secret of making gunpowder, which they jealously guarded, but of course, others were constantly trying to steal the knowledge.
My players became embroiled in a plot to steal the secret, which led to many fascinating situations, including one character hiding in the barrel of a cannon which was later fired by another party member.
Perhaps the highlight was when I described the entrance to the dwarves’ stronghold as “an earthen rampart protected by wooden stakes and topped by a row of cannons.”
I expected my players would come up with a cunning plan to infiltrate the Dwarven stronghold, but as usual my players confounded my expectations.
The leader, who was an Expert Horseman, turned to the others . . . “This is our moment for glory lads, charge!”
Then ensued a charge of the light brigade style attack, with horses being blown from under riders until, with some lucky dice rolls and a not overly harsh DM, the players prevailed!
– Chris Rice
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