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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Melee and Wizard as simplified roleplaying fantasy trip

Melee was published in 1977 as Microgame #3. It was a small skirmish game about pre-gunpowder melee (hence its name) fighting.
Wizard followed in 1978 as Microgame #6. It was a game of wizards duels, but it could be combined with Melee to give a kind of wargame fantasy arena.
Wargames battles between fighters, wizards, demi-humans fighting on tactical terrain. It was almost a roleplaying game and it was used as such by a huge number of players who liked the simplicity and ease of the game.
Those were very fun games,  easy and simple, but full of flavor.

So, it was quite logical to turn the system into a complete rpg called The Fantasy Trip. It took some years to do and it was eagerly awaited.
When it was released, in 1980, it included Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard and In The Labyrinth.

That was a fine game, but the expansion of the rules of Melee and Wizard made it more complex and not very different of others games of the time. Of course, it was possible to play The Fantasy Trip with basic Melee and Wizard and In the Labyrinth, but the discrepancies between the different levels of difficulties was not very fun.

That was the problem, the game was a more serious and complete game, but it had lost its fun factor (which is generally something that game designers don't really understand about their own games, I should write a post about it).

The charm was broken as was the collaboration between Metagaming (the publisher) and Steve Jackson (the designer). Steve Jackson was to design GURPS to expand its ideas, whilst Metagaming did publish a less complicated set of rules based on TFT and called Underearth. It was probably more like what TFT should have been (even if TFT fans don't like it too much for being not a Steve Jackson design). It was too late anyway.

TFT is one of those games that has kept a big following on the internet through the years and I had suddenly a urge to play some one-offs scenarios with it. Or more accurately with Melee and Wizard.
As I wouldn't use In the Labyrinth (except maybe as a ressources when in need for a rule), I decided to just write the minimal rules needed to add a roleplaying layer on the game.
YMMV of course, about what is the minimal amount of rules needed and how to write them. Here is my version anyway.
The basic Melee and Wizard rules can be found on the internet with a Google search (and you'll also find the derivatives, more or less akin to the original; some of them are really worth a look, being fine games on their own, though I prefer playing with the originals).

My addon rules are HERE if you want to try them.

I'll probably also publish the cardboard figures (like the orc on the left), paper scenery, virtual tabletop battlemaps and tokens I am using.
It is a very mixed campaign: cardboard figures with paper 3D scenery or tokens on maps with Maptool, depending on what is available. The idea is to keep the game rolling, so I prepare the stuff for the game on a session by session basis.


  1. Hello Bhoritz, I was unable to download your addon rules for Melee & Wizard. I've been a long time fan of TFT since about 1980 and I've recently started looking at some of the current versions of the game that are being produced by Dark City Games and Heroes & Other Worlds. I think it's wonderful and fascinating that the old TFT system has an enduring audience after all this time.

  2. Hi Eric. That's completely normal. The stuff I make available here is generally posted in my public folder on Dropbox and Dropbox decided to change its way to handle the users public folder... which did cut all the links to its content.
    I am really sorry. I am reposting all my different pieces (and some illustrations) elsewhere. I hope that all shall be available again in a few days. My addons rules for Melee and Wizards should be one of the first to come back.

  3. And it should be working now....

  4. Thank you! I look forward to reading them. :)