D&D is not the only roleplaying game that evolved from miniature combat games. Steve Jackson’s GURPS actually is based on “The Fantasy Trip”, a roleplaying game that itself evolved from Metagaming’s Melee and Wizard combat games. All these games had been designed by Steve Jackson, too.
Back in 1977 Metagaming released Melee a fast-playing man-to-man boardgame. Melee actually laid some of the basics for some of the GURPS rules. Each character had a Strength (ST) and Dexterity (DX) attribute back then. Strength was a measure of what weapons a character could use and how much damage he could inflict and take during combat. Dexterity determined the chance of hitting your opponents. Armor reduced the amount of damage taken.
When in 1978 Wizard was released, it added magic rules to Melee and another attribute was introduced: Intelligence (IQ). A high IQ attribute allowed characters to cast magic spells. Spellcasting caused temporary ST damage, limiting the amount of spells that could be cast. All this sounds already very much like what we know from GURPS.
In 1980 the third book in the series, In the Labyrinth, was released which finally turned Melee/Wizard into a fully-fledged roleplaying game. Melee and Wizard were rereleased as Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard which together with In the Labyrinth formed the basis of “The Fantasy Trip”.
In TFT each character had three attributes: Strength, (ST), Dexterity (DX) and Intelligence (IQ). IQ was however not only important for spellcasters, but for other characters, too, because of the introduction of a point-based skill system.
1980 Steve Jackson left the company and the owner of Metagaming decided to close down the company just three years later. Today, TFT, the spiritual predecessor of GURPS is long out of print, but recently Dark City Games have released some rules inspired by TFT:
All those PDFs are available for free and from what I’ve seen are pretty close to the original TFT. I also stumbled upon another tribute site to TFT that also features some nice paper models and a TFT Wiki.
I have to admit that I actually never heard of TFT before I started to do some research on GURPS recently and I was actually surprised that a) the game looks that much like GURPS already and b) that there are not more retro-clones of TFT. Or did I miss anything?
So, what are your thoughts on “The Fantasy Trip”? Have you actually played the game back in the day and would you like to play the game even today?