Forgotten Games


There are fantasy games, and there are sci-fi games, and there are horror games, and there are cyberpunk games. And then there are those weird games that don't seem to fit in anywhere, the ones nobody talks about any more, the ones that have all but vanished over time. The Forgotten Games.

The wonderful, horrible thing about the role-playing game market is that there are so many games out there. Anyone with a few hundred dollars and some friends in the industry can get their idea into print format (even if it means running down to Kinko's on an odd Saturday afternoon to run off a few dozen copies on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper.

Making things even better (and worse) is the fact that anyone with a personal computer and a modem can publish their own website now, putting up their own rulesets, adventures and game systems.

The end result is that you get thousands and thousands of games that have been released since the 1970s, all of which fall into four categories. I'll skip the fourth category here because it's called "Home Rules", that game you played because your cousin Ralph had a spare hour and he got this cool idea for this place with these elves that one time. That said, here is how I see it breaking down:

Category 1: The winners. These typically have a name on them like "TSR (or now, Wizards of the Coast)" or "White Wolf". They're the ones everyone and their brother owns, the kind you'll find at garage sales selling for 25 cents a decade after their release. I don't even need to mention their names here. They're the ones you already know about. Dungeons and Dragons. Vampire. Werewolf. And so on.

Category 2: The "runners-up." You've heard of them, probably played them, but maybe you don't actually own a copy. These are usually the ones published by the "second tier" companies, second not in quality but in mere market saturation. FASA, R. Talsorian, Palladium, Steve Jackson. Games like Shadowrun, Battletech, Cyberpunk, Rifts, GURPS. And so on.

Category 3: The "also-rans". The ones everyone forgot. You've probably played them, and if you haven't then you know someone who did. You've probably at least heard the name, or know who the publisher was, or recall seeing the cover one time. These have been published by everyone in the field, including companies like TSR and White Wolf.

These are also the ones which will be the topic of this column.

There are dozens and dozens of "forgotten games" that have come and gone like tumbleweeds through the desert, but I've chosen 10 gems from 1975 to 1994, games you may or may not remember, but games which nevertheless made their mark on the gaming industry on one way or another.

  • Boot Hill, 1975
  • Gamma World, 1978
  • Villains & Vigilantes, 1979
  • Top Secret, 1980
  • Star Frontiers, 1983
  • Toon, 1984
  • NightLife, 1990
  • Torg, 1992
  • Hol, 1993
  • Tales From the Floating Vagabond, 1994

Three from the '70s, three from the '80s, and four from the '90s. A pretty good balance. But there's no real need to go chronologically here -- I'd much rather get a feel for what YOU want to know more about. So let's hear it for your favorite forgotten game, whether it's on this list or not. Let the world know what's stashed underneath your bed in that cardboard box. The one your mother never found when she put stuff out for the garage sale.

I've still got the rule book for Paranoia. How does it fit into your constellation of games?

Paranoia walks the line between 2nd and 3rd tiers. Lots of people have heard of it, it won some awards, and it was even being turned into a movie at some point. But despite its fame, not a lot of people have played it. This probably has as much to do with the bizarre concept as anything else.

The gaming club I'm a member of has a huge collection of old RPGs that have been donated over the years by local comic shops and members. Some of the notables include Ghostbusters, Aliens, Flashing Blades, Thieves World, Gang Busters and something called "Hahlmabrea".

The only thing I can't figure out is how the eight bundles of kindling with L. Ron Hubbard's name on them got into the collection. I guess we'll take anything for free.

My favorite forgotten game is "3 in 3", a story-with-puzzles for the Mac platform. By cleverly using resources already in the Mac OS, it manages to pack an incredible punch and still weigh in at under 1.4 MB.

Oh, the plot: well, deep in Corporate America, two men are working on a Macintosh after hours to typeset a 3rd Quarter Report that will save the company's reputation. Unfortunately, they're also working on a petty cash spreadsheet on the same machine. There's a power surge, and well....

The title character, in more ways than one, is a number 3 who gets swept into the lower depths of a cyberspace within the bounds of the Mac. Personalitywise, she's highly reminiscent of Lilith from Cheers/Frasier: highly judgmental, intellectual, and individualistic, an INTJ if I ever saw one. (Myers-Briggs fans, note.)

Through a series of scenes and puzzles ranging from pure twitch to trivia to the most exquisitely honed tests of math and logic, she gradually comes to understand that numbers and letters (and even graphics) are all equal and must work together for the system to work.

Minuses: the somewhat dour communitarian philosophy expressed is somewhere between Political Correctness (how unMac!) and the (loosely defined) Recovery Movement. Plusses: the puzzles are varied, and everyone will find one that is their personal Achilles heel. The cyberworld is, by turns, atmospheric, silly, and truly scary, but always incredibly interesting. I did these puzzles at about the same time I saw "Pulp Fiction" for the first time, and found a strange resonance between them in general tone. Wish I could direct you to a site that has it, but I don't know one. Look on Carracho, it's still floating around. Check it out. (P.S.: there's a reference in the outro to another game, Fool's Errand. Anyone ever hear of it?)

Your story series has inspired me to dig out some of my old games and give them a look. I think I'll have to do a write up on the Tekumel game from the late 70's. Where would put that game in your tier system? It may not have survived well, but all of the older gamers know of it and will fight to death to get a hold of their own copy.

Tekumel was published in 1975 by TSR, of course. Since D&D would go on to fame, and Tekumel would sort of fade into the background, I'd have to place it as a forgotten game as well. But not entirely forgotten -- there's an excellent website on it at

I'm still running an active Torg campaign, which we intersperse between D&D3 and other more "popular" games. I made sure to give the game a nice summary page at my day job (

In the past few years, I've seen Torg making a small resurgence at conventions, and I've been running as many convention games as I can. It's too bad that West End Games isn't doing anything with Torg 2; they have an unedited, 2" thick manuscript they're just sitting on.

Chivalry and Sorcery would fall in the second tier of games. But we played the h*ll out of it back in college (78-82). Overwhelming rules, but a nice system, much better than D&D.

I had a successful Villians and Vigilantes game going for quite a while until I discovered Champions and converted over to that with great success.

I STILL have my first edition Gamma World rulebook. And my complete set of Nightlife books (excepting the AfterDark post-nuclear-holocaust book). And my old 1st edition Top Secret character.

A friend of mine did the scary concept of having one of the cosms from Torg cross over and showing up in their Shadowrun campaign. Amazing how well the Tharkoldu worked in Seattle 2055....

Oooh, here's a second-tier game that's hopefully going to rise back into the top tier: Hero System/Champions. After the Great Shafting Of Iron Crown (who ended up not paying people for work for up to two-three years after publication), and a serious retrenchment, they're about to release Hero System Fifth Edition. It's going to be out this month, with the Champions: New Millenium 2nd Edition about two weeks beforehand, and a fairly aggressive production and support schedule. They also have a second company, Gold Rush Games, creating some really great things for the system. (San Angelo: City of Heroes is probably the single best city-book I've ever read - clean, consise, internally consistent, and well-organized.)

now... who remembers 'Superworld'? And where does the classic Runequest fit into this schema?

Ah yes, Superworld. They were literally giving that game away at DunDraCon one year. I think that qualifies it as ignored, not just forgotten. :-)

I have played many games, from Call of Cthulu to Space Opera with Gamma World, with Man Myth & Magic thrown in for good measure. Also played Ghostbusters, if you can believe that. My favorites of all time were D&D and Villians & Vigilantes. Played both for about 10 years. Haven't played for a while, but I still have all the stuff......

I have a few favorite forgotten games.

The Morrow Project - I had a lot of fun playtesting it back in college.

Creeks and Crawdads - a silly little parody game written by a friend, self published and saw extremely limited distribution.

Aftermath - it had some clunky mechanics, but there were some nice things in there that I borrowed and used elsewhere.It was amusing to run for awhile itself, too.

Justifiably Forgotten:

Cyborg Commando -The less said about this, the better. What was Gary Gygax thinking/smoking?

Witch Hunter --Witches and Witch Hunters in the 1600s? Oh, and give the Hunters magical abilities almost as flashy as the Witches.

Actually Good: Element Masters: Really cool game world and creatures. Fantasy without the traditional trappings.

Fantasy Wargaming: Bad system, but despite the name, the only medieval system I've seen to capture the true Middle Ages--their magic system is all but useless and could very easily simulate magic that may or may not actually exist in the context of the game.

I picked up a game for $5 once called The Price of Freedom. You play resistance fighters in a Soviet Controlled USA.

My friends and I never got to play it though, so I don't know how good the game mechanics are. It had a suggestion about playing yourselves as avatars which I thought was pretty interesting.

We spent some time discussing what skills and stats we would have, and how we might go about arming ourselves. We also came to the conclusion that for various reasons (military service, education) we actually would be considered "expendable" by a hostile government-- spooky.

It's no surprise that element Masters was good. Half of the gamesystem was "lifted" from Runequest and the other half from Chivalry and Sorcery...

Traveller 2300 was a nice also-ran (2nd tier). Never sold well, but great setting and background.

heroquest! i have 3 copies, my friend has2, my other friend has 1. We used to play it alot but have modified the rules a bit and call it generically 'Adventure.

Ah, I remember well wasting too much time playing my favorite game, not quite lost, but still fairly obscure: Traveller, by Games Design Workshop. Wayyy to many rulebooks, but easy to just buy the ones you need and share with friends.

I cut my teeth on such forgotten classics as Space Opera and Twilight: 2000, in addition to AD&D. Other groups in the club (ca. 1985) were playing Villains & Vigilantes, Champions, Chill, Call of Cthulhu, and Star Trek (the FASA version). Other friends were into the early version of M.E.R.P. and an obscure RPG called Deepsleep. Much like the club, many of those games disappeared, or went into hiberation, by 1987.

Here's a question - has anyone ever tried to compile a directory of RPGs and their products, printed and cancelled? It would be a great resource to actually see some of these games actually acknowledged that way, and to let us know for certain whether our collections of old, but still loved, games are actually complete.

There are so many games i have played and loved that never lasted long enough. anyone remember the original TSR-Indiana Jones game? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Star Frontiers? all 4 (pre-Alternity) Gamma World? Lords of Creation (wait i didn't like that one)? Chill? Stormbringer? Ringworld? ElfQuest? He-Man? Paranoia? Torg (i am still working on my collection)? Gangbusters? Superworld (we tried mixing that one with elements of ElfQuest and CoC....too weird)? TWERPS? The list goes on for way too long. i think what made these games so enticing and so much fun is that i discovered them when i was a pre-teen and teen. my friends and i were so into gaming that we picked up literally whatever caught our attention. some games we played i can't even remember. i think if not for these early games (i don't want to call them flops since they had such an impact on me) many of us and the businessmen-of-gaming would never have figured out how to make the sophisticated games we have today. What i find interesting is that i tend to be more attracted to the non-mainstream games, though the tier ones are good. i think it may be do to the risks the third tier games take to get neat ideas out there. hmmmmmmmm.....?

Does anyone remember Mekton, Mekton II and Mekton Zeta? I was a big fan of all three games, some of the best gaming we ever did was with these systems. Would II and Zeta be a second tier, with I being a mysterious third tier game?

Oh, and pardon the name. Just some silly humour for the Gundam fans out there.

Man, the only two games I am involved in at all anymore are two long-gonners "Expendables"..the the Task Force Games milteristic "Prime Directive", they has good systems but were more or less just core releases, everything was left up to a VERY creative GM....much like first edition "Mechwarrior" :)

Hmm, let's see.

I remeber playing Ninjas and Superspies.

And they still sell Macho Women With Guns at my local game store.

I remember buying but never playing Lost Souls, the pre-wraith wraith.

And whatever happened to The Whispering Vault?

And my all time favorite forgotten game Kult. I never owned a book, and our gm wouldn't allow us even the most casual peek inside them, but I loved that game. I went to my local game store to ask the owner about it and he had idea what I was talking about. So sad.

Psi World by FGU
Dragonquest by Avalon Hill, then TSR
Traveller, then MegaTraveller, then New Era, then Traveller, with Gurps Traveller, and a forthcoming Traveller (yet again).

Hahlmabrea?! I've been looking for a copy of that forever(Well, since '90 or so). Any chance I could buy that from you guys?

Attack of the Humans. It was fun. A friend of mine gave it to me and said I could have it if I ran some games of it. You played modern humans who took it upon themselves to blast the heck out of monsters with modern weapons, after thousands of years of monsters making lunch out of us. It had very unusual game mechanics. I think it came out in 1990.

Anyone remember Sandman? Mechanics were clunky and odd, but it had heart. There were supposed to be many, many additional adventures in the works and they never appeared.

And 2nd-Edition Twilight: 2000 never seemed to have the same feel of 1st-Edition. You couldn't create a refugee worth a good goddamn in second ed., but half of our first-ed party was teenaged Polish partisans... worked better than one would think.

Being a first edition D&Der from waaaaay back, I've seen or played virtually everything in the article list or posted comments.

I did want to respond to the query about RPG lists- here is a pretty thorough list-

Reading this inspired me to go look at my old stuff. I reached a point of near obsession with rpg's where i couldn't walk past a new system rule set without buying it. For some reason i have 3 copies of the old red box all in various stages of dog-eardness. I have a copy of almost every system listed here although i have to admit sadly most were never played. Others to mention - Dragonwarriors by Corgi books (?) came in three A5 softbacks. Judge Dredd rpg (comic book not movie), Talislanta, Secret agent, Time Master (sucked), Buck Rogers rpg. Some of these games are so old the elves in the drawings have flares and side-burns. Aaah well...happy days (:

VERY obscure - looks like the people used a xerox machine and plastic binding as means of distribution...

anyone else know of/remember "Space Opera?"

Speaking of dead-end games... although I've enjoyed the White Wold WoD stuff at times (and I've got all of their books), it never had the visceral oomph of Nightlife. Don't ask me why, but I had more raw fun playing that game than I have with its more well-thought-out successor. You can weep at a candleflame and engage in the Masquerade all you like, but sometimes you just need to stick railroad spikes through your arms and get some kicks.

Reading this thread sent me into my game basement as well... how about 2nd Edition Ghostbusters? Chill? Justice, Inc.? I should start a support group for old gamers who want to play their decades-old favorite games.

My friends mock me for the collection I have, because I tend to look for dead games that everyone has forgotten about, but I love these games. In MY collection I have most of Dangerous Journeys, SLA Industries, Aria (from Last Unicorn Games)

One of my favorites, more for the setting than the mechanics, was Twilight:2000 by GDW. As a kid, I also had fun with TSR's old Star Frontiers RPG. I've played several different RPGs in my nearly twenty years as a gamer and found that most of the fun had less to do with the rules than with the ability of the GM to create an entertaining setting and story.

Replying to The Sigil:

Space Opera?! Man that IS old! That's from back in the days when your could order role-playing games out of the Sears & Roebuck Christmas Wishbook! Very recently, somebody did a reproduction of those old rules, but I forget who it was.

Just for the records: I played Palladium's Robotech. It was a very nice game... at least untill the GM mixed it with... no, I won't tell... you will misjudge me as a player... and I am a great player...

So this is really why I'm writing: I've had passed the last twelve years of my life looking for a game named PIXIE, from NEW WORLD (They were on 1070Sixth Ave Suite #300, Belmont - CA 94002, USA). I'm not from USA, and even though I did write to New World they've never answered.

I still want the game, so if any of you know anything about it, please send me some mail. Thank you very much!

I need Elf Quest 2 featuring Elfie and Elfita. This is NOT related to the comic book. Thanks!

Went through boxes at my folks' place over the weekend. Three words: Bunnies and Burrows. Played that for three years in high school, switching off with Twilight 2K. Meh.

I used to be part owner of a game shop. Here's a few titles to remember: Legends of Synnibar, Dark Conspiracy, Star Fleet Battles (my all time favorite), Car Wars, Tunnels and Trolls, Gammarauders, and Illuminati.

The most underserved failure has to be Jorune.

Not surprising it didn't do well--mechanics were iffy, and the ultimate aim of the game was to become a full citizen of the important regional city.

That said, no game has ever had better atmospherics and background and artwork. Period.

The blind native Shanta (sp? it's been a while) and their fluctating "weather" of "magical" forces, the sorta-not-quite humans, all those achingly gorgeous b&w drawings. And that terrific, funny blitz of ads in Dragon pre-release (somewhere around issues 94-98 I think).

Highly recommended.

Also Tekumel, of course. I got to talk with someone who played in the original group with its creator (met him in the Angband/angband variants newsgroup); the guy seems to have been a) brilliant, and b) a bit of a cult of personality. I'm still trying to convince someone to do a full blown Tekumel Angband variant!

Also, Pendragon (innovative time scales, some amazing basic mechanics [opposed and unopposed action rolls], and, again, terrific artwork in most cases).

The original Runequest source materials were close to best of their kind from any decade. Also, find, borrow, beg or steal a copy of Dragon Magazine #98 (or was it #97?) which included the single best article on running a role-playing game I've ever seen--and I've seen a lot them. If I remember correctly, the writer's name was Arthur Collins. (I could check if anyone cares.)

I've been out of active role-playing for years, but ready to leap back in on off-chance anyone in the Portland Maine area reads this. Or play some more Starfleet Battles....

Traveller, Car Wars, Federation and Empire, Star Fleet Battles, Ogre, Warpwar, Battlesuit...ahh, the good old days. Not all RPG's, but damn, they were fun

What was the name of the game that took place on a mile-long starship ? It may have been the precursor to Gamma World since there were available mutations and the like. Anyone remember it ?

I haven't been playing for very long, but I think I know of a few games that got missed. Second teir: Rifts/Heroes Unlimited. I have characters for those two games, but no clue how to play them.

And I'm not sure where this one would go, All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Its a zombie game. The archetypes are stereotypical zombie movie characters (the cheerleader, the goth, the hacker, etc.). Its a lot of fun, but nobody seems to have heard of it.

Ted, Could the game have been something from Tri-Tac like FTL 2448?

How about that game Gygax put out with GDW in the early 90's? Dangerous Dimensions or something like that was the name. Fun game, if you liked 5 seconds of combat take 3 hours of real time. And speaking of forgotten, I finally noticed that the old GDW sign in front of their old office is finally gone. Downtown Normal will never be the same...

Metamorphasis Alpha was the TSR game that took place on huge space ship that had collapsed into near barbarism. The ship was The something something Warden. I think this game provided a godd chunk of the mechanics for Gamma World. I bought it in 1980 or so in a game shop called The Green Dragon in Bloomington (Indiana).

I think one of the guys in GDW died recently...

And a few months ago I saw a Judges Guild (!) website...seems they are still selling their backstock.

I have made a habit of collecting "lost" RPG's for some reason...Mutant Chronicles, Flashing Blades, Boot Hill, Gangbusters, Paranoia, Twilight:2000...the list seems to go on for quite some time. I actually ran a Flashing Blades campaign when I lived in CO for a while. I managed to drag several hard-core White Wolf players away from their books for a bit. Regarding the "All Flesh Must Be Eaten" post..its a new RPG that came out within the last year. Not a whole lot of support so far, reviews I've read have said "better for a one-shot/short campaign" rather than a long one. Ah well.

Metamorphosis Alpha was for all intents and purposes the Beta version of Gamma World. If you still have any products from MA, they are worth a lot to game collectors. I saw one set of rules go for well over a hundred one year at Gen Con.

That was it (Metamorphosis Alpha). God, it was driving me nuts trying to remember that game's name !

A few years back, TSR re-released Metamophosis Alpha as Metamophosis Alpha to Omege for the 'Amazing Engine' generic system, i think it's out of print now tho.

I cannot remember the name of a TSR board game a friend owned from the late 70's or early 80's. Players chose to lead a fantasy country and sent out an ambassador to recruit allies. I remember an exciting game playing as the "black hand" or the "dark tower" or something similar. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of this game.

I just happened to catch this thread through a search engine. Tales from the Floating Vagabond was a great game, but like other schticky games, didn't sell well. Here's one for the group collective: The Atlantean Trilogy by Bard Games. Around 1980 this game came out with a very D&D feel. Excellent system that was gutted and emerged as Talislanta in 1987, although the time frame was set much further in the future. Does anyone know where a searching gamer can find either one of those games (Tales & the Trilogy)?

Man, what a recollection of monumental proportions! I've seen some titles of some games that I haven't seen since high school. I played several of those listed.

Two of the games that I haven't seen listed are

Pendragon by Avalon Hill and Judge Dredd by GDW I think.

Anybody play those. We'd play the hell out of both of those.

I'm trying to find a copy of the tales form the floating vagabond rulebook, every place i've looked to order one has been from a british hobby shop does anyone have one they could scan for me or part with ?

The Original Top Secret rules (pre- S.I. edition) rawked! I brought more players to role-playing with TS than with any other game I had, including DnD, which newbies found frustrating because they started out so weak... Top Secret kind of allowed you to start out as James Bond right away (I know, I know, no game balance!) but as a game, EVERYBODY identified with it... it is a mystery to me why the revamped S.I. was so crappy!!!! illustrations sucked, the "props" were amateurish and that whole ORION/WEB thing just sucked. My one abiding memory of the original rulebook was the illustration of the agent screaming as the pendulum blade slices into her! Operation Rapidstrike, the first module, was fantastic too, in which a combined team breaks into an island facility to take out an evil madwoman and a scientist bent on infecting the world with Zucor!!!! yeah!

(Meanwhile, across the pond.......) I've been collecting role-playing games now for nearly twenty years and have long been jealous of all you lucky buggers over the water!We only get RPG's over here when they sell very well, so plenty of WW and WotC! But back when Games Workshop used to sell imported games and not just their own over-priced rubbish, some real 'gems' would get into our grubby hands. Traveller, Toon, Gamma world, etc. would all be bought, played once, then thrown into storage only to emerge when you wanted to get all nostalgic, or as in my current case, when you have to shift all your stuff from one room to another to allow you to redecorate a bedroom into a nursery!

There are titles here that bring back memories of hilarious sessions of Paranoia, intensely tactically planned games of Traveller and have even motivated me to search the internet for more of these little gems, Space opera, Morrow Project, to mention just a few of the more recent acquisitions!

So, dont forget how lucky you lot are, to us it seems EVERY city in the USA has a store that is wall to wall with RPG stuff, and we have a scattered number of suppliers and a few closely guarded second hand book shops with a few titles in a cardboard box, gathering dust at the back, with the owner having NO idea what they are!!

I started RPing about three years ago , what started me was West End Game's Star Wars (revised and expanded) I was weaned into being a jedi or a dark jedi (thats before it was all changed to sith) it was for the most point just all out fun , later on I was introduced into White Wolf , Vampire being first then so on from there , I miss the SW RPG from W.E.G. and I think the new one lacks alot. I love white wolf and disagree that it will go down in flaming glory , us gamers wont allow that , I watched Star Wars RPG die , and I am still sad to this day (and I cant get my friends off their high horses to play the SW RPG Again , White Wolf , World of Darkness , they call it childish , I get pissed , everyone gets quiet)

Some dedicated folks online are into preserving Gamma World. will point you to the webring and mailing lists for this wonderful game

The Fantasy Trip did not get a mention. I really enjoyed that game. Extremly simple mechanics and a skill based character system. Started out as a couple of small board games, Wizards and Melee. Then followed by Into the Labarynth I think. For a while they published these treasure hunt adventures that had real cash prizes.

While a gamer for about 7 years, I never got out of D&D since there was so much that could be done with it. But after looking over this list I was quite surprised to see that Ars Magica is no where to be found. I just recently ran across this game since I was not fond of the 3rd ed of D&D. With the exception of some sketchy combat mechanics, this has to be one of the best game systems I have ever seen and it is still published by Atlas games. Not a forgotten game but no one I talk to seems to know about it.

Does anyone know anyone who is willing to sell any of the Boot Hill Rulebooks? It doesn't matter what edition it is. I have been trying to locate one and haven't been able to. It seems like I am always a step or two behind. We love to play this game. We played it at our last base with a guy who had the 2nd Edition. We had alot of fun and my kids (both boys of course) loved playing it as well so we would like to have a copy at home in order to play with them! Can ANYONE help me?? PLEASE!! Thank you!

Hey James; Ars Magica is and is not a dead system. White Wolf's Mage is basically an update of Ars Magica--the Order of Hermes now being but a single Tradition.

The "Houses of Hermes" supplement is great, and while written like 2 or 3 years before Vampire, foreshadows the fall of (then-) House Tremere.

Space:1889 falls into the third tier. It was republished last year.

I never played PsiWorld but I did read through it and spent (wasted) some time converting the psionics to Shadowrun. As for Jorune, making up a character was hard enough to figure out that I never found out how good or bad the game mechanics were. On top of that, the book was just riddled with typos, which is too bad because otherwise it's one of the most original and best-looking games ever.

Ars Magica is not a dead system. Atlas Games published the 4th edition and has a number of supplements out (though I don't know offhand if they're continuing to publish new material or not). White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension takes off from Ars Magica and was originally written by one of ArsM's creators, but I wouldn't say it's an update of ArsM. However, interestingly enough, WW released "Mage: The Sorceror's Crusade", which is set back in the Middle Ages a little later than ArsM, so it's come almost full circle.

Finally, to Petru5, if you read this and haven't found it yet, go to Talislanta 4th Edition (aka "The Eternal Vaporware RPG") was finally published this past August, and the new publishers did a superb job. There's a very active email list devoted to Tal, and there are further books in the works, though it's not clear yet whether any can or will be published. Oh, and the relationship between Talislanta and The Atlantean Trilogy is more complicated than you think...

I blew the dust off of some of my old RPG's after reading this thread. Where does Runequest, rolemaster or even Arduin fall in?

You know, for an "also-ran" system, Nightlife sure has given me a lot of love over the past ten years.

Hell, I've run that game almost weekly since 1991, and I'm still not tired of it. By contrast, I played V:TM once.

There has never been another RPG which has captured my attention like Nightlife. Maybe I read too many EC horror reprints when I was a kid or something.

Or maybe it's just a damn good RPG.

Aeon! I am suprised you mentioned HOL in the first post, and no one has really touched on it. HOL: Human Occupied Landfill, was an excellent little RPG concept. I tried very hard not to drink on the first night I got a group of people together--but to no avail. After many shots of Yukon Jack and Rose's Lime Syrup..HOL was an astonishing absurd success! The next morning was a different story. We vowed to never again play HOL... For fear of the lifestyle it would carve into us.

If any one you have the chance, and see a HOL book, snatch it up. The hilarious illustrations and scary (but humorous) charts are well worth it.

We mostly spent the night laughing at each other's pathetic, mutilated characters...

-Fallendove. P.S. I lost my copy in a heated game of poker one fateful night. Yes, I am still sore about that inside straight beating my three of a kind.

Here is a list of the games I tried (and haven't seen in this post), most have a reason why they made like the dinos…

Speaking of Dinos: Cadilacs and Dinosaurs… the cartoon was just a bit better, and eaven then... Troll Games (technically not an RPG) Dark conspiracy (talk about inept characters) Legende (boring french game) Shaterzone (Can't remember much, just that after 3 games I sold my stuff) Reich Star (Boy better buy alternate earths from GURPS) TOG (Rollplay at it's worst) Bushido (Played it once at University, too much cofee erased my memory of it, but it was bad) L'Empire Galactique (kinda like Traveler but made in France, not so bas actually) Mars 1889 (actually quite nice, spell jammers meets Call of Cthulhu) Iteration X (another conspiracy game) All Flesh must be eaten (I actually only read the book. Let's just say it answers the question "What if they made an RPG about Night of the Living Dead" Warhammer RPG (Bad machanics, wimpy characters but a great background and lotsa fun) Judge Dredd (only made the characters and said fuck it let's play Cyberpunk 2020) Marvel Super Heroes (watch it die yet again, even if the game has potential) Nobody mentioned MERP, Space Master and Rolemaster? (Same heavy, complicated system, but it was all worth just for the crit and fumble tables) Changeling (Another unmarketable idea by White Wolf) Dead lands (Post nuclear, undead western... with a twist) Wraith (man that made for long evenings… there you are you can't interact with anything, you are eternally doomed, nothing you do ever has any real lasting impact. What do you do?)

I can't believe some one knows about macho women with guns! I can't believe I still have a copy! Where the hell is my recycling bin? Thank god for E-bay and garage sales!

By the way, have to side with Dove on the HOL comment. Great reading, not so great playing.

Well, the column is about "Category 3", the games "everyone forgot," and MERP doesn't fall into that category, neither does Warhammer -- both of those are "also rans". As for "Mars 1889", do you mean "Space: 1889"?

Yup Philos I meant Space: 1889, sorry. Since Mars was the place where all our adventures took place I guess I got the name confused. Having worked in a gaming store when I was in university, I can tell you that MERP was a forgotten game (if the number of sales and players are the criteria by which one defines that status). Warhammer, well I guess you're right. Stuff still gets published for this game (Warpstone mag) and Jeux Descartes in France still produces the old stuff and should publish some new material soon... or so they say. Jee what a great trip through the 80's and 90's this post is. Too bad I didn't game in the 70's...

Cthulhu Matata

Well that lot bought back some memories! For the people in the UK I know what you mean about games shops, I used to work for Games Workshop back when they sold a plethora of items rather than there own range. Look in old WD's you'll see me listed fro Birmingham ) Any way The Fantasy Trip from Metagaming, always one of my favourites, simple system, 3 stat, four if you include Move. Simple skill system, but good room for depth of characters. Must admit I have a soft spot for it, got 2 coies of the 3 books, and the original Microgames. There are still some resources out on the web that cover the game.

Wow, this is an amazingly fun thread to read! I remember playing the hell out of everything from D&D to Palladium (fantasy mostly) to the Atlantean Trilogy to Gamma World to Star Wars to Paranoia (had 24 people playing one day - what a bloodbath!) and most of the Hero System (Champions, etc.). Some lesser playeds included Warhammer, Traveller, and Star Frontiers, and I own a number of others like Rolemaster, Judge Dredd, and a blast from the past - Tunnels and Trolls. I'd love to know more about what happened to Bard Games, and the current status of the Atlantean Trilogy ownership...

i remember playing an rpg that was themed around The Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. You basicly picked an animal and created a charactor from there. you made mutant charactors in it. you picked what human traits and animal traits he/she had. lots of weapons to chose from, from modern guns to old asian weapons. i remember playing it at recess in grade school, and it was alot of fun. I know it had something to do with the turtles, but i have no idea what the book was called or what it loked like. it might have had a yellow or green cover, and i think there were two different books, maybe one was yellow and one was green. i don't remember. but i would like to get ahold of this book. Does anyone know of the book(s) i speak of? if you do please e-mail me. thanks.

Gino, are you looking for AFTER THE BOMB from Palladium Games? It used to be a source book for one of their games (Palladium Fantasy, I believe), but recently, they'e looking to turn it into a full fledged RPG and release it once again.

The board game with the Black Hand is Divine Right. Don't know if the box set is still published, but there is an online Multiplayer Java website for it. Lost the address to it though.

Hey Gino, you are looking for, surprise surprise, Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles! That's the name, if I remember correctly. My brother pilfered it from me, but I still recall thumbing through it incessantly. Palladium produced quite a canon of RP material, I'll say that much. From Rifts to Ninjas and Supersies... ahh, the good old days. I still have a copy of Car Wars (not to mention Star Wars 2nd ed) laying around. It's a beautiful thing, really. BY the way, even though no one reads this thread any more, if people have a copy of Tales from the Floating Vagabond (any edition) that they would be willing to part with, drop me a line! I'm looking to run a game, lol... I have a soft spot for compedy RPG and the good old days before the d20 system. G'day all.


Remember indiana jones ( the TSR one) you couldn't even create a character, and i like so much star frontiers because at this time in france it was the only space game which exist (we were to young to read all the box in english)

i think my favorites games where daredevils and justice inc , just after those ancient ones, it was my doc savage period. We had find it for 10 francs each (2$)

and 10 years after i began to bye a lot of games (maybe to look the guy who always master unknown games)
undergroud, a good system and good design

Dark conspiracy, when you saw this 50's look you fall, it was very interesting to play

Dreampark a good game in the game

tales from floating vagabond was very fun to read but not to play, like toon or street fighter(the only white wolf game not in a word of darkness not so dark after all,i don't consider ars magica in the white wolf stock)

and that's only the us games in france ithink all the first games are deadline and even games translation like stormbringer or hawkmoon never go so far (it s hard not to stop to remember those games)

so i stop there becausei have a list like the rolemaster skill list long( oh is it a dead product also ?)

anyway when I think to these very old games i just can't stop my headaches to come again (remember the rules of daredevils...?)

So many games I've played and recognize... except for The Fantasy Trip (TFT) which was originally created in 1885 (!) but began printing much much later. It would now go between categories 2 and 3, it's the most flexible GOOD RPG I've ever come across. Pity it stopped printing, but if you can find it, GO GO GO! 'twas one of the greatest...

On a sidenote, I'll be running a campaign of TFT if I can gather enough players for it. Interested? Send me an E-mail.

Wow! What a fun thread to read! If not for Aeon Michaels' lackluster reveiws, I'd have never been able to read it, so thanks, Aeon. But what a bunch of old games everyone remembers! Real trip through memory lane. I'm eagerly looking foreward to the new Gamma World from Sword & Sorcery, but still play alot of the old favorites listed here. I have to admit, I really didn't expect to see anyone mention Bunnies and Burrows. I have never laughed so hard before or since playing that game back in high school. Don't know what happened to my copy of the rules, but oh, well, probably better remembered.
If you really want to reveiw a lame-ass dead game system, try DragonRaid, the Christian roleplaying game which required players to memorize bible verses to achieve success in encounters. I'm not trying to knock Christianity, but man, that game was terrible. Some of the things I did back in jr. high just to roleplay...

I have been looking for a copy of metamorphasis Alpha forever. I will even take a Xerox, and consider my quest at an end. Also, if anyone knows of a Avalon Hill wargame called "GunSlinger"?
RPG's I remember, and still have (some of them)
Twilight 2000
Bunnies & Burrows
Morrow Project
Time Master
Boot Hill (all time 'fav)
Teenagers from outer space
PSI World
Space 1889
Kill The Commie Bastards (Crunchy Frog Enterprizes)
Knights of Camalot (TSR, half war game, half RPG)
Star Wars d6
Oh, and a locally produced game here in Halifax, NS called "Alma Matter" the High School RPG. What's so great about RPGing High School when your IN high school? Well, now you can kill all the bullies you hate without going "postal". Seriously, as lame as it sounds, I actually ran this game for a year "adlibbing" all the time. And we loved it! It turned into a real soap opera though.
Also, this book has rules for every thing that you can think of...and a great combat system. Rules for getting a date, getting pregnat after you date, cheating on tests, drag racing, etc, etc. It also made a great game in different eras, like Animal House/60's or American graffitti/50's.
Oh, anyone remember "Price of Freedom" a Red Dawn russian invasion game?

My fav's were the FGU games:

Villains & Vigilantes(still own)

Aftermath(Gamma World fans should check this one out)

Space Opera(still own)

Psi World(mechnics were nothing special but Matt Wagner art throughout was nice)

Daredevils(again, mechnics not the best but the 5 published modules for this game were some of the best written for ANY game)

Lands of Adventure


Other Suns(available for free online now.Do a search)

Also the games from Chaosium:

Runequest(best fantasy RPG ever.The standard in game mechnics by which all other games were measured since)



For some REALLY obscure oldies does anyone remember these?:

Star Ace(Strange early 80's sci-fi RPG)

Super Squadron(blatant rip-off of V&V)

Masters of the Universe(Yes they made a boxed He-Man RPG.Almost impossible to find now)

Thieve's Guild

Nutz & Voltz(a FREE rpg that was created by the creator of "Top Secret" and based on Asimov's Robot stuff.Was published in issue #10 of "White Wolf magazine")

I remember the first RPG I played was the Robotech game. Eventually, I got to cyberpunk and then even D&D, which I play to this day.

Never played any of the really obscure games, since most of the ones that came our way in my small town were the more common TSR, GDW and Iron Crown titles. Here are two "third tier" games I enjoyed:

1. GangBusters. This is a gem. Very clean, simple game mechanics that still cover most possibilities. I love the one-second combat rounds because it is very easy to visualize and coordinate what's happening. I always wanted to adapt this rules system for 1930's era swashbuckling but never got to play that sort of scenario.

2. Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP). Typical ICE production. Badly designed rulebook that has you scurrying back and forth for a hundred different damned tables. Overly complicated skills and development rules. But the critical hit and fumble lists, and the concept of "open-ending" an attack roll, all added a lot of excitement to battle. The game also offered a lot of different race and class options.
We had the most fun in my "Evil MERP" campaign in which most players had half-troll, orc, or Easterling characters set in a putative Fifth Age, after the last elves have gone to the West.

And a few "third tier" games which I sampled but never played much:

3. Role Master. A different whole-page table for every single weapon, in six point font. There is a "Tiny Animals Attack Table" for all of you frustrated D&D'ers who are sick of having your 1st level characters terrorized by squirrels--you now know EXACTLY how much kitten or squirrel damage will occur, complete with critical hit tables with a small chance of its claw opening your throat. And it takes three hours to roll up a character. And oh yes the various rule books give erroneous and conflicting cross-references. It's enough to make the first edition DMG look well organized. It's the ultimate role playing experience, and thankfully I've never had to play it, despite the importunities of an old friend who just loves the whole thing.

4. Twilight 2000. Another post-apocalypse game, but not as much fun as Gamma World. Very badly designed and edited. We used to joke that Game Designer's Workshop was called that because all their games still needed so much work ( Traveller was maybe an exception, but we never played Traveller ).

5. Phoenix Command. This was an advanced contemporary combat system. The only guys who seemed to enjoy this game were the ones who collected back issues of "Guns 'N Ammo" and memorized ballistic tables for different 9mm pistols. Give me D&D any day.

I hear tell that Twilight 2000 is going back into print in the summer of 2003! Wait, that's allready gone by.... Where's my goddamn game?! Jeez, some people, get you all excited that one of your favorite games is going to be re-released and then they don't do it. Bastards.

Anyway, here's a real forgotten game for you guys.. Batman The Role-Playing Game. Not DC Heros, just Batman. This was simply THE worst game I have ever played, and I've played some pretty crappy games. Has anyone else heard of this? I actually own a copy. We foud about ten copies of the core book (I think there only ever was the one book) in the back room at B.U.B.'s and couldn't sell them for a dollar a peice. It was pretty damn funny.

Man that game sucked.

I remember torg it had a cool multi colored 20 sider in the box . It also had some paper back books out . I never got to playor or see how the game mechanics worked but that 20 sider was cool lol