Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ryth Chronicle (1975-1977)

Thanks to John Van De Graaf and Len Scensny, I can now present the complete chronicles of Ryth, a little slice of gaming history from the earliest days of the hobby. John writes:
We got started in D&D when Gary Gygax and his wife attended a Michicon convention to peddle the very first edition of D&D rules. The very thin 3 booklet rules were so vague that I had to call Gary for many rule clarifications, and he was very helpful. We also added a lot of material, like the weapon and combat tables, because we weren't too keen on the Chainmail combat rules that D&D was based on.

39 comments:

Jim said...

That is really great. I'm looking forward to poring over it. Thanks for sharing!

limpey said...

Brilliant! Look forward to looking at this! thanks

JDJarvis said...

Cool. Just gave it a once over and I'm really digging this little bit of RPG campaigns past.

thwaak said...

This is giving me chills...it's like a history book for RPGs. These guys had it going on! I love the maps, and I love the detail.

Someone ought to turn this into a full setting for LL or S&W. Let it live again!

irbyz said...

Excellent to see: has been on my "to find" list for some time - many thanks and please pass on likewise. :)

Above and beyond the campaign details, bonus smilies for the Fazzle ref. and character sheet.

Joseph said...

I was going to heap all sorts of praise at your feet, but it got so long I turned it into a post on my own blog.

I cannot thank you enough for making this available. Just too cool.

Paul said...

Priceless. Thanks for posting this.

Zachary Houghton said...

This sort of stuff is priceless. Standing O!

The Acrobatic Flea said...

Thank you. I look forward to reading through this wonderful, historic document!

C.D. Gallant-King said...

It's a good thing someone found this, and can provide context to future generations. Otherwise, some day an archaeologist or librarian might have discovered these notes and been really, really confused.

Good show!

Thomas Biskup said...

Great find! While researching its background I found an old post at the Sandbox of Doom that suggests, that even more stuff of Ryth turned up in the old days in various fanzines, etc.: see my blog update about this.

Nicolas Dessaux said...

Just wonderful!

Al said...

Thanks, RM!

(appropriate word verification: "dicies")

Melan said...

Thank you for posting this. Campaign documents tend to be pretty ephemeral; all the more impressive this one has survived. And a lot of fascinating insight about the playing practices of early D&D.

Risus Monkey said...

Once again, the response has been overwhelming. I'm especially looking forward to subsequent analysis by members of the OSR community.

For me, I've found the document to be really inspirational. I wish that it was possible to run an expeditionary game like this in my current stage of life. Alas, my player pool is too small and my schedule is packed with family obligations. I'm also too interested in other genres to have this kind of focus.

I'm giving the whole thing a closer read right now. I love the charming terminology from that that time before... "Dragons and Dungeons", "20-digit dice", and "degrees" (for level).

LenS said...

A possibly interesting (also possibly silly) trivial note on the Ryth campaign. The contribution I may be most proud of was the first 20-sided dice. Dice available at the time had 20 sides, but only ten digits, 1-0, impressed twice on them. Our early usage was to flip a coin or roll another die to determine whether the number was 1-10 or 11-20. In an idle moment, I took a die and painted one set of numbers red, the other white. I still have the die.

Len Scensny

Dangerous Brian said...

Risus, thanks for sharing this little gem of gaming history. Many thanks.

Chris said...

I'm so glad these have finally seen the sunshine of the internet! Kudos, Len! I'm always amused at the very high mortality rate of characters.

@irbyz - you realize this is where Fazzle began, right? So awesome.

Joseph said...

I just realized that this is the same John Van De Graaf that wrote the Expert Set module "The Gem and the Staff" (O1). It also mentions his wife Laurie, who was credited as co-author of O1.

Risus Monkey said...

@LenS: Wow! Now that is something! No wonder it's called "20-digit dice" in the first pages. Cool!

@Joseph: I'm guessing you are right. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I hope more people who have access to such things will come forward and share them also.

kesher said...

Just...I'm almost speechless. This document is literally blowing my mind. Thanks for sharing it!

LenS said...

@Joseph - The module you mention was orignally titled "The Search for the Fazzlewood" - an authorized solo scenario John did up for one of our Conventions. Gygax was in attendance and close to two hundred people cycled through. The orginal name is an inside joke involving Paul Wood's Ryth character - a magic user named Fazzlefart (one of a set of triplets - the others being Razzle and Dazzle.) TSR later bought the scenario from John.

Len Scensny

bliss_infinte said...

It's like opening King Tut's tomb (I hope it's not cursed).

George Strayton said...

Very cool, Aaron!

Moorhawk said...

Wow, fantastic gaming history! I am now compelled to pull together my campaign notes from the 80's.

irbyz said...

@Chris, Len: pretty much the first thing I did was search out any ref. for Fazzle*. Like I said, those 'zines have been on my "to find" list. Thanks. :)
Definitely got a smile to see quite what the original context was!

Excellent that the community response has been so positive given previous comments sometimes being somewhat dismissive towards campaign material from other than the "big names" as being "not important" - whereas in reality those had a far larger impact on how the game was actually being played during the first few years.

Nils said...

That's cool. I wish I had my notes from the 80s - I started gaming in '84 - but that was before I was "computerized" and most stuff we just made up as we went along; I do have some ancient maps I believe. Hmm!

And I should have some notes from the early 90s.

Thanks for posting this, it's always cool to see what other people did and do.

Fabio Milito Pagliara said...

thank you :)

Risus Monkey said...

And thank you to all you recent commenters. In its second week, the response to Ryth has been nothing short of amazing.

artbraune said...

This is one of the most interesting and nostalgic items I have seen in years! Thanks for getting this together, getting permission, cleaning it up ,and sharing it with the community.

The completist in me wants to know how Issue #2 can be tracked down...?

Havard: said...

Very interesting document. Thank you for sharing. I have already been spending the last hour drooling over it :D

Scott said...

It's probably a bad sign for my sense of child-like wonder, but the first thing I thought when I saw this doc was "is this one of those Encounter Critical dealies?" :(

Now that I've read it, it's definitely one of my favorite pieces of 1970s gaming ephemera, and getting it coincides nicely with my current projects. Amazing stuff.

Risus Monkey said...

@Scott: I can totally see how it would appear to be one of those "Encounter Critical dealies", but I assure you that it is legit. :)

Needles said...

Damn that's a fine find sir! Excellent material from the dawn of our hobby! Quietly downloading now! Thanks again for finding this!

Michael Moscrip said...

I can't believe I've only now just found this. You need to re-pimp this treasure, sir! :)
Thanks!!

Risus Monkey said...

@Michael Moscrip: Ask and ye shall receive. Commence repimping...

Anonymous said...

My dad has been telling me stories about this campaign for years. It is so very cool to see all of this! Thanks John and Len for sharing!

Jessica

Tim Ballew said...

@Jessica: Wow, that makes me feel all warm inside. :)