Old Space Gamer Articles

Old Space Gamer Articles

I have been reading a bunch of old Space Gamer magazines, looking for articles about The Fantasy Trip. I got the ones I could find from Steve Jackson Games, but I also saw some issues of Interplay on Amazon. (Haven’t bought those yet). They had a number of great articles, but they were more like a snapshot of the gaming industry in the late 70s and through the 80s.

Gaming in the Early Days

Man! Going back through those magazine issues was a trip down memory lane. Not only did they bring up memories of when I got into gaming in high school, but it was a view of where Metagaming and roleplaying was at the time.

There were the issues where TFT was first released–and even Steve Jackson said he was not entirely happy with it. Then there were the reviews and articles about games that have come and gone (not The Fantasy Trip, surely!)

There were also the issues where more house rules were added to fill in some of the gaps that the canon rules missed–a tweak here, an addition there. Many of the articles just added flavor, although there were a few that had solid rules adds. There was even one great article by Steve Jackson about how to convert D&D monsters to TFT stats–how cool was that?

Space Gamer vs. Dragon Magazine

Looking back, though… I have been going through issues of Dragon Magazine, too. I have to say that Dragon had a higher quality, both in production values and in articles. Quite obviously more money was infused in the work put into Dragon. It just seemed more like a professional magazine. I also have to say that I have better memories of inspiration from Dragon, too–it was more readily available in small town Arkansas where I grew up.

I would like to think that one could take the articles from Dragon, though, and pretty easily convert them to TFT use. There was a lot of good stuff about roleplaying, game mastering, spells and monsters. (I’ll be repurposing a lot of that info here throughout 2017).

Gaming Has Moved On

But gaming has moved on. As for TFT info, obviously the source for inspiration today is GURPS. As I have said before, I think GURPS is dead. That being said, the Dungeon Fantasy line is a throwback to the original days of gaming. (OK, yes, I bought a number of those products, dammit! Don’t judge me.)

Over the years, though, you can see how the trend toward more actual roleplaying as opposed to hack and slash really influenced the industry. There are just a ton of other gaming genres available, too. After being away for many years like I have been, the changes can be jarring.

Still–I love the old Space Gamers. They really do have the feel of The Fantasy Trip, even after all of these years. I can’t give up on them yet. So… I can’t post the articles directly here because of copyright laws, but I will be writing about the ideas and concepts here on inthelabyrinth.org through the coming year. Even if the magazine is dated, there is still some good info there, and worth anyone reading again.

Marko ∞


  1. A few links of possible interest to you and your other readers:


    …and especially; https://archive.org/details/TheSpaceGamer

    I’ve gotten almost all of them, either by purchase via Warehouse 23 (for the ones that SJG still has copyright on) or via downloading the ones that SJG’s doesn’t own the rights to. They are a fascinating look at the dawn, apex, and slow decline of the golden era of wargames and the beginning of the RPG era. Well worth taking the time to look through. Steve Jackson’s “designer’s notes” and errata for TFT in issue #29 are particularly valuable to any new players that have acquired the original books in the past few years.

    Hope some of you find this useful!

  2. Thanks Jeff! Let me take a look…

    BTW, your comments got stuck in the SPAM section–not sure why. I will be more diligent in checking that area to stop that from happening…

  3. You can also find the six issues of The Fantasy Gamer out there as well. By this time, TFT was mostly a distant memory, but there is still some useful material in there…

    Thanks Marko, at least my comments are finally getting through! That’s a sea change from last year, right there! ;-)

  4. I know, right?!?!

    I think i have those, too. I bought a bunch in a late night frenzy.

    Jeff, that is EXACTLY what im talking about. Way back when, i did not think about things like that when playing TFT. Now, though–that sounds so cool!

  5. I know that Steve had intended to do TFT rules for other Genres, but MetaGaming didn’t want to spend any money on any more than the bare bones of games. This at the time when TSR was pumping most of their profits and investor money into pretty boxes to attract customers. I wonder what Steve’s SciFi or Western game might have looked like a few years before TSR put out Boot Hill or Gamma World.

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