It was a simple premise that started this: what if Gygax and Arneson had different inspirations than the one(s) that became D&D. From it (so far) has come at least two variants I really like: Mazes and Minotaurs and X-plorers ; these ask “what if the font of inspiration was greek myths or Science fiction. Both are really well done, check em out (linked above).
This, then, is that, but spun thusly: what if the first RPG wasn’t D&D at all, but rather Traveler ?
I’m not even going to get into the possibility of this, I hasten to add, but rather just follow it up. Specifically, what if, as a result of TSR never having been formed or successfully launched, “the fantasy game” (as it was called) languished in a box in a garage for many years, until its designers ended up at GDW – which IIRC, predates TSR. For a variety of reasons, the RPG genre was born with Traveller (probably via Star Wars), and Fantasy is the red-headed stepchild of the industry. Adventure Simulations Games (as they are called) cater to an endless variety of SF settings and adventures, all derived from traveler in a myriad of variations on SF themes.
Assume then that Gygax and Arneson finally convince GDW to try a new approach to travelling: something like that Robert E. Howard/Lovecraft genre, using the swords and sorcery version more than the Cthuloid horror of Seeker (by Chaosium games); "like in Fritz Leiber's stuff ? Low tech, ya' know ? C'mon Marc, pleeeeeeze ?"
And so, in 1977, following the phenomenal success of book 8 (Droidbots), The Adventure game is dragged out, dusted off, renamed and rewritten, and months later, Book 9: Adventurer is released. What might that look like ?
I’m always flirting with low tech traveler, and indeed some excellent variants have been produced by others (Mercator, Wanderer, Flynns guide to magic, and probably others I have missed); ironically, I’ve also been on the “lets just not use D&D mechanisms and call it traveler” train, but it got me wondering –what if the mechanisms and design of Traveller were applied to the style and sensibilites of D&D ? And not just any D&D, but original three little books in a brown or white box edition D&D ?
Well, yes, it’ll be odd -no pun intended- ……but that’s never stopped me, has it ?
More to come.
* based on the published authorship credit, and no I don’t want to touch that either