One of the things that I love about reading older role-playing game materials – whether they’re old books, magazines, or zines – is that so often you can tell that the authors have no pretense at being “right.” More often than not, they’re likely to begin talking about any topic by hedging what they say with phrases like, “Some say,” “Few know,” and “It’s rumored.”
They do this because they’re still making up everything that will eventually become the tropes we live with today. They got to experience getting together in a tavern for the first time without everyone rolling their eyes and to go into a dungeon without all their players begging them to do something different. That’s fun, and it’s something that I’ve never really gotten to experience.
I suppose that’s why I so often spend time reading old books and magazines that aren’t really all that relevant towards what I’m playing today. Like there’s nothing in Quest of the Ancients, with it’s broken rules and esoteric plots, that I can use in my games.
And yet I still enjoy reading them.
I like seeing that people were constantly trying to hack older systems. I love reading home rules for Traveler, D&D and GURPS even if I don’t really play the versions they were written for. It’s fantastic to see them make their own hacks into legit games of their own. It inspires me to hack my my own games and to explore what is possible with them.