Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Deathfrolic '85: Things We Didn't Lose in the Fire

Since the fire I’ve replaced some of my rpgs pretty fully (Mutants & Masterminds, Fading Suns), others partially (Exalted 1e, Planescape), and some almost not at all (Cyberpunk 2020, MERP). Books can be re-purchased, even if the prices lie out of reach. But I also lost of ton of old gaming notes and papers. Much survived, though some have smoke and scorch damage. A chunk of that's tucked away in a plastic box. The smell of the fire hits me when I open it. I haven’t worked through or had the heart to throw them out. They’ll break down eventually- the acid from the smoke does that over time.

But I had a lucky find yesterday in another old box tucked away in the attic’s corner. I’d sorted these boxes after we got back in the house, but rushed through it madly. I keep coming across things I missed at the time.

Deathfrolic ‘85

Our area had many annual gaming conventions in the early days. In the late ‘70’s and early 80’s we had three different cons going, including "The Emperor’s Birthday" and "Griffcon." All had a strong mix of rpgs, miniatures, and board games. Eventually all the cons would get priced out of the downtown convention center and try other venues. In 1985 Griffcon tried out the Stepan Center on the Notre Dame campus. The horrible, single room under a dome had (to quote They Might Be Giants when they played there) “the worst acoustics of any place we’ve ever been.” Add to that no air conditioning in a hot Indiana Spring.

Despite being in high school, I helped out with some of the planning for the con. Historically the conventions had locally written D&D tournaments...just like the big cons. Many of the earliest D&D modules came out of these TSR’s own tourney productions. I volunteered to put together the module for Griffcon ’85. I don’t know why. I suppose it made me feel important. Eventually it became a group effort- nearly all of my local players pitched in, including Gene Ha. Art Lyon in particular came up with many of the key concepts. We wrote it up, took it to a copy shop, and barely got it to the GMs in time. Playtested? Nope. But it worked and no one complained loudly.

That’s what I found yesterday- my nearly complete copy of the Death Frolic Megakillathon AD&D Tournament module from 1985. It's credited to "Lowell Francis and the Kill Crew." There’s an illustrated cover page missing as well as the pre-gens, but otherwise it’s intact. And terrible. Seriously. A railroad from start to finish. High School AD&D let loose on the page. We apparently split the typing duties up, with some of it done on an Apple Mac and some typed up on thin paper. It’s a mess of typos, stains, and run on sentences.

But here it is. I’ve scanned the whole thing and posted it as a pdf on Dropbox. If you like old modules or gaming found objects, I think you’ll find this amusing. If anyone ever questions my trad bona fides, I’ll point them here.


We did a sequel module the following year. I know I had a copy of that at one time, but I suspect that vanished in the fire. We’ll see; perhaps in the future I’ll turn that up.