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).


  1. Il semblerait que nous ayons eu la même adolescence au niveau ludique...merci pour cette madeleine de Proust, j'ai toujours le Château des Sortilèges, Cry Havoc, D&D et autres pieusement conservés telles des reliques, ravi de voir que nous sommes plusieurs!

  2. Moi aussi j'ai découvert le JDR par ce même numéro de Jeux & Stratégies que mon oncle (!) avait acheté. Mais j'avais déjà lu Tolkien ... grâce à ma cousine.