Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I stumbled across this game in 1982, at the KB Toys in Parkway City Mall, Huntsville, AL. Our hobby is in the midst of a great time right now. The internet has made thing such as open playtests and retro-clones realities. Yet, the dark side of this great time is that many of our FLGS are gone. Mine in Huntsville closed 2 1/2 years ago. There was a time when retail outlets were a gaming nexus. Since there was no Amazon or Half-Price Books online, storefronts were the main outlets. You could mail order, but without dozens of reviews, unboxing videos, or forums gushing about a title, it was hard to know if you were getting the next best thing or not. So, we went to stores. We could hold the objects of our desires, read the blurbs on the back, and try to divine for ourselves if we wanted to drop the dime.

Games weren't exactly everywhere back then. But, on the plus side, the hobby was still in a period of booming growth and there was plenty of market to go around. So, games were showing up in some non-traditional places, like KB Toys and Games.

But, that's not the point of this post.

I found this game in '82. I'm not sure just when, but it was warm. Being the Tennessee Valley that narrows it down to about ten possible months. Anyway, I found the boxed set for the staggering sum of $10. It included the rulebook, an adventure, a couple of dice, and I'm not sure what else. I know I could easily look it up, but this isn't a review.

I loved this game right off. I was a huge fan of The Fantasy Trip and its combat component, Melee, back then, so the hex-grid combat was easily grasped. I remember thinking that magic was restrictive because a wizard could only belong to one college. Maybe I misread that part, I don't know.

I loved the open-endedness of it, especially from a GM's point of view. Back then I was more prone to try to shoe-horn my campaign work into the rules I was using, rather than house rule the system to fit my campaign work. So, open ended games that allowed me to just create campaign stuff without being concerned with how it would fit with the rules was a huge boon.

I ended up buying an adventure made for the game, and the "campaign" for it. It was a map and some of the most barebones descriptions of the entries on the map you will ever see. It is freely available on the net. It is pretty neat as a starting point, and with the minimal development included, you can morph it into whatever you need without worrying about invalidating any critical components.

DragonQuest had a number of unique ideas, that at the time were cutting edge, if not revolutionary. It was its own game, based on its own ideas. I still love it and enjoy reading it. I doubt I'll have a chance to play it, considering that those I am most likely to play with would be put off by the level of tactical detail. Still and all, I love it now for the same reasons I did then. Mainly that it is easy to develop campaigns for.

The official 2nd and 3rd editions can be downloaded here along with an unofficial revised edition. As far as I know, the site is legit, it has been up for a while with (apparently) no corporate bullying. Since KB Toys and Games is no longer in Parkway City Mall (and in fact the mall is gone, as well) I highly recommend you stop by the site and download the copy of your choice.

1 comment:

  1. DQ was, Like TFT, one of the fantasy games we didn't have back in the day. So it's yet another of those games that I stared at in White Dwarf adds and daydreamed over, but never got my hands on.