Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Midgard II

I distinctly remember, when discussing Tolkien fandom early in my junior year of college that Christie Drake told me about two things I would like - CS Lewis's Narnia Chronicles, and a play-by-mail wargaming group named Midgard that allowed Tolkienish role-playing.  One could be a hero, or a ranger, or a wizard, or whatever.  She thought the initial game was full but a second game, Midgard II, was being considered.  She had no contact information, it was just a rumor she had heard.  This would have been late 1973.

If one tries to reconstruct the origins of Dungeons and Dragons, one finds that it grew in stages out of medieval wargaming of the Avalon Hill sort.  There were some by-mail games of military strategy; there were lead miniature displays of sieges and combat; there was increased interest in dice rolls and detailed, quantified properties of armies; there was a breakthrough interest in individual actions, though Gary Gygax was interested in a Conan world, not a hobbitish one.

There is a vague reference to a medieval role-play discussion at the New England Wargaming Association in 1971, but reading it over, it is a stretch to call it even that.  So all record of Midgard seems to have fallen beneath the waves.  Yet it did exist - I could not have invented it.  I might misremember a great deal, and have conflated later info with the 1973 incident.  But I certainly didn't invent the concept myself! I have never showed the least prescience for anything to do with popular culture.

I learned that Gygax became some sort of Christian believer in his later years, based on incidents within the games. The effect was slow, over 25 years, but he decided that worlds must be created.  They do not come out of nothing.

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