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Zothaar Construct-1

Posted by Numenor, in Overview Journal 09 October 2012 · 608 views

e gary gygax castle greyhawk campaign robert kuntz kalibruhn dungeons and dragons mary gygax dungeon hobby shop miniatures tsr m.a.r. barker rpg frp proto-rpg development primal rpg intensification sword and sorcery fiction adventure gaming dave arneson blackmoor tekumel chainmail rules theron kuntz empire of zothaar
THE ZOTHAAR EMPIRE
HISTORY AND DESIGN OF A CONSTRUCTED NATION
By Lord Teric


During the early 1970s, I was introducted to a new genre of recreational gaming. This style of gaming or game format would, eventually, become known as "roleplaying." By 1974, the first printing of Dungeons and Dragons reached the Dungeon Hobby Shop in the small suburban city of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, just southwest of Milwaukee by approximately forty-minute's drive.

My introduction to the roleplaying game was not extraordinary, however. On that important day, I was accompanied by my brother, "Robilar." We entered the premises of the Gygax family as usual, navigating the home's furniture, pets, and greetings from the family members, including Mary Gygax. The Gygax family were devoted Jehovah Witnesses. Their home was very clean. Their children drilled in religious etiquette.

Mr. Gygax was in his small study, apparently, waiting for us. With him was several small paper folders and a three-ringed notebook stacked with sheets, several with sheet protectors. He introduced me to his Castle Greyhawk Campaign game. I was not impressed and was nonplussed. After several years and untold hours of historical miniature competition, including constructing wet-sand terrain and handling thousands of Medieval, World War II, and Napoleonic miniatures, I was given the verbal details of an inapparent game interface that I would have to explore in order to make sense of my gaming environment. In addition, I had to devise my "character" based on the simple scheme of a Fighter, Magic-user, or Cleric to begin the event. The procedure was simple: the dice determined the class strengths of my "character." Such a game interface startled me because I'd become instilled with viewing 3D terrain, the dispositions of my opponent's army, the knowledge of my troops' capabilities. Mr. Gygax was instructing me to participate in a new type of game in which I would need nothing for the "adventure," just some record of details and notes. Mr. Gygax was the "judge" or referee, providing the verbal details of the "adventure." He was the story-teller, the story-master, which became known as the "gamemaster."

The aforementioned was my introduction to proto-roleplaying game development of E. Gary Gygax's, Castle Greyhawk Campaign, that would assist to succour Mr. Gygax''s conception of the roleplaying game dynamics for a new gaming market segment. The first printing of Dungeons and Dragons introduced the world to the primal roleplaying game. RPG became known as FRP or "fantasy roleplaying" because of the prevalence for the wizard-fighter archetype, such as in Sword & Sorcery fiction, using the Ancient or Medieval periods as a supportive background for character integration and a scientific-historical gauge.


INITIAL ZOTHAR DEVELOPMENT
By Lord Teric

Many constructed worlds followed the D&D system example. Locally, "Robliar" developed Kalibruhn, while TSR promoted Dave Arneson's, Blackmoor, through publication of a supplemental volume in the digest style--typical at the time. Although Mr. Arneson developed considerable material for Blackmoor, as can be attested by the size of the supplemental volume, he was not employing the D&D system for Blackmoor's rule source, but an adaptation of Chainmail's individual combat mode. On the non-local level, M.A.R. Barker's, Tekumel, was submitted to TSR, while TSR hired considerable talent from the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, including Michael Carr (Dawn Patrol), initially as Manager of Retail Operations, then as part of the Design Team, David Meggary (Dungeon!) as TSR's first accountant, David C. Sutherland III as TSR's first full-time artist and Design Team member, and--eventually--Dave Arneson for a short time.

The development and publication of Tekumel was a godsend for TSR--for several reasons. The most prominent of these reasons was that TSR acquired a completed conworld RPG. This was necessary in order to demonstrate conworld development and to promote their RPG system. Another reason was the considerable academic authority gained from Professor M.A.R. Barker, himself, and his back-knowledge of constructing Tekumel. Finally, all employees at TSR, including the partners, the Design Teams, Mr. Gygax, and Mr. Arneson received firsthand knowledge about a quality-designed conworld RPG, complete with map, histories, civilizations, linquistic differentiations, system of play, and creatures, apparently some of these civilized as well. The knowledge was, especially, important to the TSR production department, because with it, production team members could easily prepare Mr. Gygax's Greyhawk material for publication. Indeed, David Sutherland was constantly busy in TSR's art studio preparing the World of Greyhawk maps after finishing other projects, including Tekumel. Professor Barker's conworld invention became a box set with a very durable, multi-colored map and a "player's handbook" with clamshell binding. The box was given intricate artwork, worth its price tag, for a collector as well as those learning conworld-building RPG techniques. See original EPT box at Empire of the Petal Throne.

Nevertheless, Professor Barker pocketed his earnings from Tekumel and gained contracts for miniature production of Tekumel's inhabitants, initially secured through Ral Partha Enterprises. Professor Barker's creative skills easily slapped TSR in the face, and in particular, both Mr. Gygax and Mr. Arneson, although Mr. Arneson might have been expecting it anyway. Part of this can be attributed to previous production schedules, and another part on the correct development of an unattested new genre of gaming. Professor Barker's creative package assisted TSR personnel in developing further products.




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