Having found the Minotaur, he killed him by smiting him with his fists
July 16, 2014 5:09 AM   Subscribe

"In 1972 I created the concept of Mazes & Minotaurs, the world's first roleplaying game. Inspired by my fanatical interest in ancient Greek and Macedonian wargaming, coupled with a love of Greek myth and the 1963 movie, Jason and the Argonauts, it took the gaming world by storm." -- Paul Elliott.

Revised Mazes & Minotaurs presents itself as the successor to what was the first tabletop role-playing game in an alternate timeline, instead of the Braunstein games and Dungeons & Dragons of our timeline. It is free but well-supported with several adventures and supplements, as well as a new-ish Google Group and an irregularly published magazine. Highlights of the magazine include an Amazon-oriented special issue (#3), which incompletely revises gendered elements of the game, and a potentially amusing random island generator in issue #11. An expansion provides an alternative setting: Vikings & Valkyries.

Previously: Braunstein games; M&M not to be confused with Mazes and Monsters.
posted by Monsieur Caution (13 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Just starting on the links but from the first "Braunstein games" link:

In the hierarchy of self-awareness you’ll find the circle of gamers who know what D&D is (a very, very large circle), then inside of that is the circle of gamers who know what Greyhawk is (large but smaller), and inside that the circle who knows what Blackmoor is (smaller still). And then in the very center, vanishingly small, are the people who've heard of Braunstein.

Count me in that penultimate group. Heck, I have an original copy of Blackmoor sitting in my dusty old gaming box and I'd never heard of Braunstein until now. Interesting stuff here. Thanks.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:48 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mazes & Minotaurs is an amazing piece of work. It totally reads like the old basic books. One day I will run it. (It, and like a hundred other games.)
posted by khaibit at 5:50 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

M&M not to be confused with Mazes and Monsters

Or Mutants and Masterminds!
posted by magstheaxe at 6:17 AM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yay, this is all awesome stuff. I felt really lucky several years ago at GenCon to end up in some random persons sisters condo neat the convention center for an impromptu game being run by the Wesley guy I had never heard of. That was my first contact with Braunstein and it was a blast.
That was what got me to try a couple of the LARPs at later cons.
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:24 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

The problem with basing your game on Greek mythology is the decided lack of polearms.
posted by pseudocode at 7:10 AM on July 16, 2014 [8 favorites]

True - for polearms, you need to go to the Classical period, where combat is all about the polearms.

Actually, I would love a role-playing game in which combat involved finding several hundred other warriors and forming a phalanx.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Oh! You rolled a double six! Unfortunately, because you are standing three rows back, you can't see what your spear just hit very clearly, and the noise of battle drowned out any cries of pain, there was definitely contact."

Five minutes later.

"Oh, Cleisthenes, you just got 20 experience points. From which you can probably infer that you wounded somebody earlier on, and they were just killed. Oh, and exciting news! The guy in front of you just died. Roll a saving throw against tripping to move to the second row back."
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:42 AM on July 16, 2014 [11 favorites]

Heck, I have an original copy of Blackmoor sitting in my dusty old gaming box and I'd never heard of Braunstein until now.

I highly recommend Jon Peterson's Playing at the World, which goes into great detail about the evolution of role playing games from Kriegspiel to D&D.

There was no mention of Mazes and Minotaurs, so this post confused me at first.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:47 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've been on a retroclone kick for a little while now, and have just about convinced my group to take a run at one...this may be the direction we have to go now.
posted by Doc Ezra at 7:55 AM on July 16, 2014

Heh. The cover of the "M&M Companion" is totally an homage to the cover of RuneQuest, the 'actually-existing-at-the-time-and-kinda-popular' bronze age RPG heavily inspired by Greek myth and Gods fucking with mortals.
posted by Myca at 8:24 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

With the hype surrounding the launch of still another revised edition of the D&D rules, the geekily nostalgic pull for House Rules & Hit Points has been tugging my idle brain. I've found myself idly thinking about how to revise Chaosium's Basic Role-Playing system for a world-building project of my own amusement, but Elliott & co. have upped the ante here. The one area that seems they've neglected, though, is a counterpart to Gary Gygax's groundbreaking alignment system. Would M&M's corresponding philosophical axes somehow place Aristotelian ethics as orthogonal to Platonic morality, I wonder?

In any case, since Romans used polyhedral dice, this M&M project is appropriately inspired.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:44 AM on July 16, 2014

If you like Greek-inspired RPGs, please do check out Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone (2nd Edition) from Khepera Publishing. It's Greek Mythology meets Space Opera, with all the sweeping epic drama that implies. The mechanics are easy to learn and use, but robust enough for even the pickiest RPGS. Plus, the writer's love of Greek myth fairly drips off the pages. Highly recommended!
posted by magstheaxe at 9:10 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of Pits and Perils, which is an OD&D inspired game that uses 2d6 to resolve most everything. It's also written and presented in a very 1974 sort of way. It's great.
posted by chunking express at 5:50 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

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