Ah, the quest for the perfect role-playing game!
For me, that would be a whole, complete game with a specifically fantasy setting that included magic and is contained in a single volume. A tall order you say? Not at all. DragonQuest is one such game. In fact, it is the standard by which I rate all other games.
Oh, Dungeons and Dragons is a fine game. Really, it can be said that it was the first true role-playing game. But, even that was broken up into multiple books, each of which cost about what the single DragonQuest volume cost. What’s more, DragonQuest dispenced with such artificial notions of “alignment” and “character classes”. Characters are motivated by the same things people are and few are wholly “good” or “evil”. And, as for the notion of a character class, DragonQuest took the much more reasonable approach of grouping skills into professional classes, but didn’t impose any artificial limits on who could learn what. So, a player could create a thief that was also very good with a sword and could cast spells. All it took was time, experience, and finding a teacher for the desired skills.
The really cool thing, to my way of thinking, was that DragonQuest did all this in less than 160 pages, including illustrations, introductions and a starter adventure! And the cost? $19.95. Mind, this was back in the mid-80′s when the dollar was worth more, too. Of course, there were additional adventures and even an entire supplemental world to adventure in, but all one really need to get started was the one book. A game far ahead of its time.
Of course, TSR bought SPI, who produced DragonQuest, just so they could take it off the shelves. Or, so it has been rumored. Then, TSR was swallowed up by Wizards of the Coast, which was in turn bought by Hasbro. All of which means, I fear, that DragonQuest will never see the light of day again. I treasure my copies of the game.
What got me thinking about this, though, was a rumor I heard on-line today about a game-alike of DragonQuest being released at the upcoming GenCon. I have no idea if it’s true or not, but I sure hope it is.