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Title: Role-playing Games Continue To Catch The Imagination

Source: Chicago Tribune, November 27th, 1992

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Role-playing Games Continue To Catch The Imagination
November 27, 1992
By Michael C. Neubauer.

The phenomenal popularity of the role-playing and fantasy game hobbies has not subsided, and game companies continue to produce new and interesting titles. Some of the newer titles are in the more traditional role-playing vein, as opposed to the many "cyberpunk" games that were released in recent years.

Industry giant TSR has released its new Dragon Quest game, a simple fantasy role-playing game designed for younger players between the ages of 9 and 14. Dragon Quest includes high-quality components and well-writted rules, and serves as an introduction to TSR`s more difficult Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Game Designers Workshop`s new entry is Mythus, created by role-playing guru Gary Gygax (designer of Dungeons & Dragons). Mythus is another well-designed, traditional fantasy title.

Two older titles underwent redesigning and re-release. The Avalon Hill Game Co. released a deluxe version of RuneQuest, a role-playing game set in a medieval European environment. Science-fiction game company FASA also issued the second edition of its popular Shadow Run game, which is set in a 21st Century America in which magic, bizarre life forms and punk music have run amok. 

For those unfamiliar with the hobby, in role-playing games players assume the characters who inhabit a fantasy world. Each player has different characteristics, abilities and inclinations ranging from magicians to warriors, trolls to computer gangsters. One player is the game master who controls all the events, developments and combat in the role-playing gamers`adventures.

Battle for Armageddon, Games Workshop, $35. This is a game of strategic-level fantasy combat for beginners. The evil Orks have invaded the imperial world of Armageddon and players command the forces that are trying to invade, conquer and defend this planet. The game includes a mounted map board, rules and high-quality counters representing the forces of the Ork horde and provincial and imperial defenders. The rules are simple and the game appears to be designed as an introduction to Games Workshop`s more involved Warhammer 40,000 and Space Marine Games, both of which are more sophisticated in depth and scope.

BattleTech 3rd Edition, FASA, $25. Just released is this third edition of FASA`s extremely popular game of the futuristic tactical combat. The game involves command of giant Battlemechs, which are huge, heavily armed robots. This newest edition includes plastic figures and improves rules into basic and advanced sections for easier comprehension. Like many other science fiction games of this kind, the game`s combat concepts are borrowed heavily from 20th Century warfare. The game can be played by two or more players and is intermediate in complexity. Many additional supplements are available from FASA. Also available are two printed supplements titled BattleTech 3055 ($15) and Objective Raids ($15), which provide background information and additional scenarios.

Dragon Quest, TSR, $23. TSR`s new release, Dragon Quest, is a fantasy role-playing game that is designed as an introduction to TSR`s more sophisticated Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games. The game comes with a mounted map, metal and cardboard playing pieces, cards, rule book and sample adventures. Each player assumes the role of a heroic character engaged in the pursuit of adventure and fortune. A dungeon master controls the events of the game, resolves combat and generally creates an air of mystery (the game cannot be played solitaire). Dragon Quest is a step up in complexity from TSR`s Dungeon board game and contains rules to integrate it with the more complicated Dungeons & Dragons games. Dragon Quest contains TSR`s usually high-quality components and is as good as any introductory game to the role-playing hobby.

Minion Hunter, Game Designers Workshop, $25. Minion Hunter is a companion board game to GDW`s Dark Conspiracy role-playing game. The game is set in the Dark Conspiracy future in which America is under assault by evil supernatural entities including vampires, ogres and talk show hosts. The players assume the characters who are engaged in defeating these dark forces as they move around the country encountering new problems. Playing cards represent equipment and new plot developments. Player characteristics include empathy, stalking and combat. A player wins by obtaining the most fame in defeating the forces of evil, or the game may defeat all of the players, which presents players with interesting choices between cooperation or losing the game.

More Cosmic Encounters, Mayfair Games, $35. More Cosmic Encounters is a supplement to Mayfair`s popular multiplayer Cosmic Encounter game, a card game of science fantasy that has been around for eons. It includes additional rules, challenge cards, moons and other play aids. This supplement adds a great number of options and challenges for Cosmic Encounter players. Coincidentally, they also lengthen the game. Cosmic Encounter fans will want to pick this up. More Cosmic Encounter cannot be played without ownership of Cosmic Encounter and is not a stand-alone game.

Mythus, Games Designers Workshop, $26. This is a new role-playing game from GDW and is part of its Dangerous Journeys system. Designed by Gary Gygax, designer of Dungeons and Dragons, Mythus is set in a medieval/Renaissance Earth in which magic is prevalent. The game concentrates on a very sophisticated character-generation system that has extraordinary detail. This game requires a game master and cannot be played solitaire. Additional supplements are available.

Orbit War, Steve Jackson Games, $25. This is a two-player game of space combat near 21st Century Earth. Players command space shuttles, missiles, satellites and other futuristic weaponry. The game postulates a space war between the United States and the Eurasian Union. It is played almost entirely with units in Earth orbit. The game is moderate in complexity, contains a mounted map board and, unfortunately, poorly constructed playing counters. The problem with the game is that players never really know why they are fighting. There are more interesting science-fiction war games available.

Prefect, FASA, $30. Prefect is an extremely detailed science-fiction game set in FASA`s Renegade Legion universe, in which a futuristic Roman Empire has run amok through the galaxy. The game includes two maps and hundreds of counters depicting spaceships and various types of ground forces. The idea is that the forces of the psychotic empire are attempting to establish a stranglehold on yet another planet. The rules are straightforward, and this game may be integrated with FASA`s other Renegade Legion games such as Interceptor and Centurion. Players who enjoy those games will find this to be a worthwhile purchase. This game is, however, rather complex and lengthy and is not recommended for beginners.

RuneQuest, Avalon Hill, $30. This is the latest, deluxe edition of Avalon Hill`s well-known RuneQuest role-playing game system. This is a very well-developed game that is set in a medieval European environment. The rules are clearly written and the fantasy world and characters are well conceived. It contains detailed background information regarding magic and skills, and the game appears to be more popular with older players than games like Dungeons & Dragons or Shadow Run. RuneQuest requires a game master and cannot be played solitaire. Also available: Sun County ($20), a five-scenario RuneQuest supplement (ownership of RuneQuest required to play).

Renegades and Warlords, Games Workshop, $30 each. Renegades and Warlords are two supplements for Games Workshop`s popular Space Marine game of futuristic tactical combat between warring races. Both games include extensive information regarding new types of units, military formations and troop capabilities, including background manuals and troop cards. Renegades focuses on additional forces of the Eldar and Chaos; Warlords focuses on the forces of two additional races, the Orks and Squats. The game is informational in nature and does not include new playing figures. Neither game can be played without the ownership of Space Marine. Additional playing figures can be purchased separately.

Shadowrun, FASA $30. This is the second edition of FASA`s popular role-playing game. Set in a particularly imaginative milieu, Shadowrun envisions a 21st Century America that has been overwhelmed by magic, genetic mutations and free-lance journalists. Shadowrun is a fully conceived role-playing universe containing detailed rules regarding character generation, combat, character attributes and skills. Shadowrun requires a game master and cannot be played solitaire.

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