Tag Archives: The Fantasy Trip

RE: RE: The Fantasy Trip

I am not sure this re-emergence of the Fantasy Trip (TFT) is going to be all that successful. Looking around the web in the last few weeks, I have seen a few articles covering the news, but mostly it is just rehashing the Steve Jackson Games (SJG) announcement. Surprisingly, several of the websites dedicated to the subject did not share the announcement. Not surprisingly, the discussion died down fairly quickly on the gaming forums. Even the discussion on the SJG forums seems to be 3 or 4 people talking about rules modifications they want to see. Both the Facebook Group and the Google Plus Group have nearly no discussion going on. Finally, I think this blog is the only place that has talked about it in more than one post.

I think this just bares out what I said earlier, there is really not more than a few hundred active players out there, maybe (probably) not even that many. This game was not all that popular and therefore has a very narrow appeal and I think even most people who did play it back in the day moved on. Steve Jackson said he will be doing a Melee Kickstarter this year, that probably means it will be followed by a Wizard Kickstarter and eventually one for TFT proper. So I have to wonder, will the Melee Kickstarter even fund and if it does, will the follow up Kickstarters fund? It seems unlikely to me right now.

RE: The Fantasy Trip

I have been think about why this game has been fascinating me these last few days. The Fantasy Trip (TFT) was an unpopular RPG back in the day that held very little interest for me and my group at the time. Even in the years that followed I rarely took it out and looked at it. I considered playing through some of the solo games a few years ago but never followed through. But now suddenly Steve Jackson announces that he has acquired the rights to it and will be publishing it again, that I am suddenly interested in it. This is what I have been thinking about.

Both TFT and GURPS fill the same gaming niche. I have come to the conclusion that I like the theory of GURPS, but I don’t particularly like the reality of GURPS. GURPS was not the first of the 3rd generation RPG’s, but it is the one Iliked the best. It lets you build detailed characters and has an interesting game mechanic that allows for as much or as little detail as you want, but it is more of a tool box for building campaigns than it is an RPG. In reality it has way too many fiddly bits, too many moving parts, even at its most basic level it can be overwhelming. I had hoped that the Dungeon Fantasy boxed set would sold some of these problems by building an easy to play, easy to understand stripped version of GURPS, but all they did really was add templates.

I guess, what I am excited about is the possibility of a game that ultimately fulfills the promise of GURPS. I want rules that allows me to build interesting characters with a minimal amount of effort. I like the Talent system, it is basically a skill slash special ability system, the list is long enough to be fun, but not long enough that you spend two hours trying to figure out the best character building strategy. The reality is, I will probably never play this game, or if I do it will be because I run a one off game or two. D&D 5E pretty much does everything I just described, a simple point system for attributes, a general purpose skill system and a few customization options to make it fun. So when the Kickstarter for TFT comes, I will probably not take the $250 get everything option, I will probably just go for the PDF or if I am feeling better, I might order the printed core rules in whatever form they take.

More Fantasy Trip

I sat down and generated a couple of characters. At first I was just going to do one Melee character and one Wizard character, but I decided to use the full TFT rules instead. I had not made a character for the game in many years and in fact I have never played this game as an RPG, only as a tactical combat game. Making a basic game character literally took 2 minutes, the advanced game took me less than 10. I have said for years that one of the things I admire about the Traveler game was that you could express a character in three lines on a note card, TFT characters are about the same.

There is something to be said about simplicity.

Fighter
ST 13 DX 10 IQ 9 MA 10
Talents: Bard, Horsemanship, Sex Appeal, Shield, Sword, Thrown Weapons
Equipment: Bastard Sword (2+1/3-2), 2 Daggers (1-1), Cloth Armor, Large Shield, Labyrinth Kit

Wizard
ST 9 DX 11 IQ 12 MA 10
Talents: Literacy
Spells: 3-Hex Fire, Drop Weapon, Far Vision, Fire, Fireball, Rope, Staff, Staff to Snake, Summon Wolf, Trailtwister, Trip
Equipment: Staff, Cloth Armor, Labyrinth Kit

RE: The Fantasy Trip Returns….Eventually

So I have been thinking about this for a little while now and I have been considering just what Steve Jackson might do with the property. Looking out at the internet, there is very little in the way of community around this game. other games of the time seem to be doing well, Tunnels & Trolls for instance has been in print pretty steadily for the last 10 years, Traveler as well and RuneQuest. So if there were a real hunger for this game, I would be able to find a some serious web space dedicated to it. Sure there are a couple of fan sites, but mostly they have not been updated in years and yes there are a couple of knock off game, but nothing that seems to be getting any traction. This brings me to the conclusion that there are at the outside a few hundred active players of this game. This is not a big customer base, sure there are more than a few people like me who remember it, but looking at the forums where the news of Steve Jackson re-acquiring the copyright is being discussed, there is really not a ton of enthusiasm beyond “Hey this is really neat” and most of the discussion has already died down after less than 48 hours. This leads me to believe that the potential customer base for this game is a few thousand at best. If I were Steve Jackson, here are the things I would be thinking about.

  1. How to get people interested in the game again: Running a Kickstarter and putting out a huge Dungeon Fantasy style boxed set will take 2 years, assuming nothing goes wrong. Two years is a long time to let the enthusiasm die down. I would be thinking of ways to get this into customer hands as quickly as possible, even if I eventually wanted to do a big boxed set.
  2. How to keep it from competing with GURPS: Steve Jackson has a huge investment in GURPS, it has been their staple RPG for decades. Unfortunately gamer money is limited and it is good possibility that every dollar spent on TFT is a dollar not spent on GURPS. Both games fill the same niche and will naturally compete with each other.
  3. How to make this more than just a vanity project: The reality is, TFT is an old system that was never super popular and had this not happened, practically no one but Steve Jackson would have regretted it. The only reason this is happening is because on some level this has been bugging him for the last 35 years. At its core this is a vanity project for Steve Jackson, however he is also a business man and everything he does needs to make at least a little profit. Moving a new edition beyond this will be a challenge.

Here is how I would handle it. First I would try to get this back into the hands of gamer as quickly as possible. The original game was published back when they still had to typeset printing presses, so there are no real electronic versions available. First thing is to hire a transcription service to type those 8 books in word for word, update the new books with errata and commission some new art. This process will likely take less than 6 months, then put them out in PDF format and sell them for $5 each. This will solve problem number one, it will get people playing the game, it generate interest and give you breathing room to produce the big boxed set.

Once this is done, launch the Kickstarter, get the ball rolling on the big boxed set. Spend the time updating the rules for the 21st century, I know this will upset some people, but if you want solve the 3rd problem, you will need to publish a modern game, not rehash an unpopular game from the 1980’s. This needs to be a game people will play, not a box that will sit on the shelf. Remember you are selling this game to new players, the 200 people who are still playing the game are not your target audience, if this game is going to be more than a nostalgia buy for aging Baby Boomers and Gen X, the new edition needs to appeal to the new generation of gamers.

As for keeping it from taking sales from GURPS, this is more difficult endeavor. Basically, I would not move TFT beyond the fantasy genre. If gamers want a truly universal system, where they can bounce between genre without learning a new system, then that is what GURPS is for. If they want an easy to learn, fast to play fantasy game, then TFT is what they will pick. This is mostly an exercise in marketing. One of the things I would not do is dual stat. Dual stating is one of those things that everyone loves in theory but never works in reality, and is frankly mildly insulting.

Now, I seriously doubt this is how Steve Jackson will handle this. I expect we will see a Kickstarter for Melee which will have a boat load of miniatures and some nice maps, he himself has said as much. Then later we will either see a Kickstarter for a similar Wizard product or we will see one for a more compete system, but all of this will not see the light of day before 2019 and more likely 2020. The question will then be, will anyone besides Steve Jackson really care anymore.

The Fantasy Trip Returns….Eventually

Steve Jackson announced yesterday the copyright for the 8 The Fantasy Trip (TFT) books he wrote for Metagames has been returned to him. One of the rules under the current copyright laws is the original author can ask for the copyright to be returned after 35 years under some specific rules, which TFT obviously fell under.

http://www.sjgames.com/ill/archive/2017-12-26

I remember playing the micro game spin off of this RPG, Melee and Wizards in High School with my friends in the school library, which mostly consisted of Wizards facing off against each other in an arena. I still have most of the game books and I am looking forward to see what Steve Jackson does with this material.

Edit:

I do not really remember this game as an RPG. As you can see I do own the advanced books, I bought them at GenCon in 1988, but I have never played the advanced game and I am not really sure I am interested in playing it now. I remember it as a tactical combat game that as I mentioned earlier, we played at lunch time. What I would like to see is Steve Jackson reprint Melee and Wizard in the original micro game format, sort of what they did with the Ogre Pocket Edition they put out a few years ago.