Tags: The Cold War avante-garde, from R&D to D&D, the secret origins of hex paper, KAAAAHN!

Really, Cheney should be the Dungeon Master.

Mathematicians, physicists, historians, psychologists … all have something to offer the modern warrior. … Now, in the early days of the Atomic Age, there is developing a scientist-soldier team whose joint function is to outguess any conceivable enemy in any conceivable future situation. … Huddled around an electric brain that helps the fighter to fight and the thinker to think, they are beginning to work–or play–together in the most elaborate war game imaginable.
–“CORG plans Tomorrow’s Army Today,” Army magazine, 1956.

Let’s take another run at the deep history of roleplaying games.

My previous post talked about “Braunstein,” the proto-roleplaying game run by David Wesely in 1967, and how Wesely was inspired in part by Charles Totten’s Strategos, a book about wargaming from the late nineteenth century. On a D&D collectors’ forum called The Acaeum, Wesely recalled two other books that inspired him:

I created all the non-military roles for the first Braunstein game, not because I had too many people for the game, but because I had become interested in the concepts of N-player strategy games (where N is > 2) discussed in Kenneth Swezy’s [sic – see below] book The Compleat Stategyst and of overlapping and conflicting, but not directly opposite, objectives laid out in [Kenneth Boulding’s] Conflict and Defense.

Totten’s book led us from the roots of roleplaying to 19th century theosophy, the Lost Tribe of Israel, and the U-Mass Amherst fencing program. What might we learn from Wesely’s other two books?

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