27 September 2013

Nostalgia and Adolescence

I don't know if it's become some kind of meme already, but there are a few posts out there on G+ about what fantasy gamers enjoyed as novels, art, etc. during their formative years.

I spent my early teenage years in a relatively quiet town in south-western France, and then the family moved to the far suburbs of Paris when I was 15. As a result, I wasn't exposed to many novelties in terms of comics, games or novels. My foraging trips to Toulouse (first), and Paris (last) were important journeys to organise, and they would cost me a lot of pocket money, so they had to be well planned. Mostly, I needed to be sure that some "wow" stuff was to be found, else I'd simply postpone the trip.

Living in the sticks as I was, I hadn't access to any fanzines, etc., and mail order was still in its infancy for anything that wasn't clothes, so I could only rely on Jeux & Stratégie to learn about new games. Contrary to a lot of fellow gamers, I started with war games.

Jeux & Stratégie would carry a free pull-out war game in each issue, and one of these was a bizarre boardgame without any hexes and strange counters:

So the next time I went to my FLGS in Toulouse, I learnt about role-playing games. Apparently, they were fantasy-themed tactical war games that didn't need a board!

I bought the Holmes box and was instantly hooked. I soon bought all the issues of Casus Belli I could get my hands on, and GM'ed the adventures therein for my neighbours.

In terms of other items of geekdom, I didn't read any (US) comics at the time, and I hadn't been exposed to Anglo-Saxon fantasy either. My childhood fantasy world was the classic world of the Grimm stories or of Central European legend:

Again, contrary to what happened to most fellow gamers out there, I didn't start playing D&D because I had read Tolkien, but the other way round: I started reading Tolkien because it seemed so similar to D&D!

After we moved to Suburbia, I was lucky enough to have a huge library really close to home that carried all the Temps Futurs books: Leiber, Lovecraft, Moorcock, et al. I became an avid reader of fantasy novels.

In those same years, I bought the French translation of Tunnels & Trolls, which became my favourite role-playing game as a GM (never liked the solos).

This, in turn, prompted me to look for the Sorcerer's Apprentice the first time I went to the US.
 I bought a huge stack of past issues, and that in turn introduced me to the fantastic notion of house rules (as well as it introduced me to very fine fantasy short stories).