[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was originally posted on 2011-11-16.]

(Anyone seen any fire-breathing lizards?)

More donations have come in, so thank you very much, kind supporters. Still, I am behind and so am inspired to search for gold, silver and coppers. However, you can’t look for treasure without being suitably armed…

Day Fifteen was again a bit obscure, both for the clues and because the game is not that well-known, never having been published. In Christmas of 1967 or 1968, David Wesley, inspired by a 1871 wargame training manual, ran a Napoleonic era game set in the fictional town of Braunstein. He was interested in games with more than two players, and he acted as referee, while the other players represented different factions in the town with their own agendas, from soldiers in the opposing armies to members of the town itself. The initial plays were quite chaotic, but despite this his group kept calling for another “Braunstein.” So after a few more plays of the original with some tweaks (such as relaxing the winning conditions), Wesley created a second scenario (Piedra Morenas) involving spies in the fictional Latin American country of Banannia. After he left for Vietnam, other locales were used, from the Old West, to 1919 Russia, to 1944 Poland.

So to make it clear: we have a game with a referee, players with their own special abilities and agendas, and no clearly defined winning condition. On top of that, Wesley ordered a set of regular solids with numbers on them to use as dice for the game (though he mostly used the 12- and 20-siders). Thus, the “Braunstein” became the starting point of RPGs as we know them.

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