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(TFT) My first exposure to TFT
> Do you remember the first time you played?
It was the summer of 1977, the last summer of youth before the grown-up
world of college, having graduated from high school just a few weeks prior.
My brother and I, and two of our friends, were perusing the local game store
here in San Antonio, TX (Dibble's) on a hot south Texas day. Never flush
with cash, I saw an interesting little game in a clear plastic outerwrap
with an intriguing purple cover of a man fighting a gargoyle. The artist
had obviously had attended some life drawing classes because the drawings
looked correct, not like some other artwork I had seen on other fantasy
style modules. This gave me confidence that the game could be just as good
as the artwork.
Up to this point it had been mostly wargames, wargames, and more wargames.
D&D I had tried once and thought the system was awful, and it just was not
fun. But the clerk, after being prompted, said that he had heard good
things about this $2.95 game called Melee. There was only one copy left and
it fit into everyone's budget. But who was to be the lucky purchaser? We
flipped a dime twice and I won out, and so we went home and read the very
well written rules, and I especially liked both the tone of the writing and
the illustrations on the various pages. My imagination began to move in
directions that were completely new to me.
We decided a 2 on 2 arena battle was for us. I decided to test out the
system by going extreme, a trait that served me well in my subsequent
software development and science jobs. The result? A ST-15 DX-9(4) MA-
10(4) battle axe (3) wielding plate armoured /5 hits warrior. My team
member took an almost opposite tack with a ST-9 DX-15 MA-10 fencer (1).
We had it covered, we thought. Speed and power, what could go wrong?
Our opponents took a Roman gladiator at ST-12 DX-12(9) MA-10(6) /3 hits
armed with a broadsword and crossbow and a heavy hitter at ST-14 DX-10
MA-10 armed with a 2-handed sword (3-1). The first turn told all. A few
loosed arrows and then we all closed. The first blow went to the 2-handed
sword and neatly cut the fencer in half. The look on my friend's face was
priceless. Instadeath. And unlike D&D, you were really dead. No reroll,
no magical reincarnation. Dead. I thought this was very cool, even if it
happened to be my arena mate.
I took a few hits from the gladiator, but with plate armour I laughed it
off. Now it was my turn and my first real introduction to the genius of the
system, the Bell Curve. Even though I thought I was gaming the system since
my DX was only 4 BUT, according to the rules, I could actually hit on a 3,
4, OR 5, gaining some DX for free! Boy, I though I was clever. But as turn
after turn went by my two opponents hammered me with blows while I tried
vainly for that critical hit I needed. Hope turned to despair as I realized
that this Bell Curve I had studied in Physics II just a few months back was
beginning to haunt me. As the final few hits took my ST-15 warrior down to
unconsciousness, I fell in love. This system had great possibilities.
Wolves, orcs, bears, what more could one ask for?
And that was the start of a lifetime love of a game that has been a joy to
play for over 30 years. The expansions to Wizard with IQ and the
beautifully clean magic system and Death Test were works of genius. I loved
the encounters and the style of writing that left you wide-eyed wondering
what intriguing room inhabitants would appear next to test your skill.
After a short while I had many college friends playing this great game and
leaving other systems to gather dust. Short battles to multi-year campaigns
all gave us that sense of teamwork and exercise of imagination as The
Fantasy Trip material rolled out in the early 80s. Sadly, though, games now
are extremely infrequent as time has passed and friends have moved and moved
on to other things. But just like your first love, TFT has played a
wonderful part in my life and eventually led to a brief time working with
Steve Jackson and his relatively new at the time game company SJG, and
contributions to a TFT revival with Dark City Games.
Hats off to SJ and TFT and for sparking my imagination along with many
others, as well with this wonderfully clever yet simple game system.
Anyone in San Antonio up for a game? :-)
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