Tactics: May/June 1982

40 years ago today (it is already May 1st in Japan), Hobby Japan published the 3rd issue of its wargaming magazine “Tactics”. It contains several articles on role-playing games. People say this is the first material about RPGs to be published in Japanese.

One of the articles tries to explain what RPGs are. The author is 高梨俊一 (Shunichi Takanashi), who basically gets what these games are about. He would later design his own game called Rule the World. He surveys some of the RPGs available in English and mentions Dungeons & Dragons, Tunnels & Trolls, High Fantasy, Empire of the Petal Throne, Dragon Quest, Rune Quest, Heroes of Olympus, Traveller, Universe, Space Opera, Time Tripper, Commando, Gangster!, Top Secret, En Garde!, Bushido, and Land of the Rising Sun.

The second article is a short but complete game designed by アル・シダータ (Aru Shidata) called Donkey Commando. It is a spy game. The object is to infiltrate a secret base, destroy as much as possible, and steal the confidential documents. The base is randomly generated as it is explored. If enemies are encountered, they can be attacked with gun, knife, grenade, or karate chop. Resolution uses 2d6 dice rolls. Your character has 6 ability scores, and when 10 enemies are killed, you roll to see which ability improves. The game can be played solo.

The third article is a session transcript (a replay!) with a game master and two players. One is the wandering knight Erzligner, whose wife betrayed him and caused him to lose his castle. His companion is a woman named Nazavice, who has a dagger which can dispel magic. The session starts at the gate of a castle. Erzligner tries to push the gate open and falls into a pit trap. Nazavice inspects the gate and discovers buttons on either side. Pushing one causes her to disappear. Erzligner decides to push the button as well, and he is transported to a room where Nazavice is confronting the sorcerer who killed her father. The sorcerer attempts to polymorph into a griffon, but Nazavice stops him by throwing her magic-dispelling dagger at him. The sorcerer reverts to his true form, which is an 8-headed dragon. Nazavice attacks the dragon despite being unarmed and is knocked unconscious. Erzligner proposes running away but the game master sternly tells him that knights who abandon women are punished by the gods. The game master also hints that there is a way to defeat the dragon. Erzligner ends up putting the dragon to sleep by throwing whiskey at it, a reference to the Japanese fairy tale about the 8-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi.

It isn’t stated what rules they are using to play—the game master tells Erzligner he has an 80% percent chance of success at one point and asks him to roll, so we can infer they aren’t using six-sided dice exclusively.