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Famous PFAL Graduates


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Greetings, game geeks!

In the late '60s, there was a group of gamers who met in Dave Arneson's basement (still living with his mom and dad in St. Paul at that time). Those gamers mainly played Napoleonic miniatures. They included Dave McGarry, David Wesley, Ross Maker, and others whose names I don't recall. They went from individual battles to playing campaigns, and they came up with rules to decide what their generals were doing between battles.

David Wesley took some of those rules and came up with what they called a "Brownstein". The tabletop represented the island of Brownstein, where the characters had their adventures. The setting was contemporary and the characters were James Bond types.

Arneson took Wesley's ideas and translated them into the fantasy setting which he called "Blackmoor". Tactical Studies Rules of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, of which E. Gary Gygax was a principle, had published a set of medieval miniatures rules called "Chainmail". Since "Chainmail" included rules for fantasy characters such as orcs, elves and trolls, Arneson used the "Chainmail" rules for resolving combat in his "Blackmoor" campaign.

There was a game club in the upper midwest called the "Castle and Crusade Society" sponsored by TSR, which also sponsored the convention known as GenCon (Lake Geneva Convention). Arneson brought his "Blackmoor" campaign to Gygax's attention in the early '70s, and Gygax decided to publish the game. Arneson and Gygax collaborated on the product published as "Dungeons & Dragons".

Several months before "D&D" was published in the fall of '74, Arneson first took foundational PFAL.

I took PFAL in the summer of '80. I was aware from a mention in a game-magazine article that Arneson was also involved with TWI. Almost immediately after I graduated from PFAL, I went to GenCon and introduced myself to Dave. We've been friends ever since, even through the split up of TWI. I worked for Adventure Games Incorporated for several years in the early- to mid-'80s, and Dave was one of my spiritual partners when I was in the Corps.

In 1979, when TSR published "AD&D", they tried to shaft Arneson out of his royalties. Dave sued, and the lawyers went through "D&D" with a fine tooth comb. Each and every line was attributed to either Arneson or Gygax.

In my opinion, David Wesley invented the concept of recreational role-playing as we understand it today. Arneson adapted Wesley's concept to a fantasy setting, and Gygax worked together with Arneson to elaborate and publish the game. TSR always built up Gygax contribution and down-played Arrneson's, for commercial reasons.

Arneson was the only person involved with the original development of "D&D" who was also involved with TWI. In "D&D"'s hayday, Arneson was tithing in the five figures annually to the Way Int'l. The Trustees knew who he was, and when they were in the upper midwest, invited him to bashes that regular believers didn't get invited to. Then, behind his back, they would malign as devilish the game that was bringing in so many ABS dollars.

Arneson was never in the Corps himself, but he sponsored many, many people. He went out WOW once. I think it was in '85.

He is a good guy, and has moved on with his life.

By the way, MiniCorpsConscript, I may have hung around Arneson's apartment with you back in the mid-'80s.



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Originally posted by mstar1:

LOL Jonny-good eye!

it does look like Mickey, of course i havent seen what he looks like in 35 years----I don't know how he's aged--but it is certainly a match for the old Mickey

I saw a recent picture of Mickey, and if that ain't Mickey behind P.E., it's his clone.

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