On the birth of RPGs

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Jury Box came out in the 30s, where each player took a role of a jury member, and they needed to collectively tell a story ad hoc as they went along, figuring out the mystery. A hundred years before that in Italy there was a game where everyone took on a role and ad libbed a shared story with friends.

Seems inevitable someone would add in a military element to those games, and David Wesley did just that in the 60s.
 

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aramis erak

Legend
Jury Box came out in the 30s, where each player took a role of a jury member, and they needed to collectively tell a story ad hoc as they went along, figuring out the mystery. A hundred years before that in Italy there was a game where everyone took on a role and ad libbed a shared story with friends.

Seems inevitable someone would add in a military element to those games, and David Wesley did just that in the 60s.
Wesely didn't quite - it was Arneson who drove that leap. Wesely didn't realize what had occurred until later. He was, however, instrumental in letting Arneson get away with it, especially since it was bordering on Frei Kriegspiel. (source - an audio interview of Mr. Wesely. He explicitly notes that he simply adjudicated the actions not in the game as a good FK GM does. )
 

Committed Hero

Explorer
I think the common thread of both wargames and board games leading to RPGs is investing your tokens with a personality if you play them often enough: "this soldier with the bent barrel has made it across North Africa, Sicily, and Italy!" Someone else - I wish I could recall who, possibly Greg Costikyan - noted that a character sheet is but a complex game token.
 

Mark Hope

Adventurer
I think the common thread of both wargames and board games leading to RPGs is investing your tokens with a personality if you play them often enough: "this soldier with the bent barrel has made it across North Africa, Sicily, and Italy!" Someone else - I wish I could recall who, possibly Greg Costikyan - noted that a character sheet is but a complex game token.
Yeah, this seems to have been a key element in the development of the Bronte's shared worlds - they were using their toy soldiers as individual characters in play. It definitely helps to have something anthropomorphic with which to identify.
 

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