Monday, July 6, 2009

Howard Thompson

In the comments to my recent interview with Kevin Hendryx, there was a request for more information about Howard Thompson of Metagaming. Mr Hendryx passed along the following for those interested in such matters:
Howard Thompson still lives in the Central Texas area -- I've forgotten exactly where, I want to say Georgetown or another small town within Austin's outer orbit. He went back to state employment after Metagaming and is now retired. He is active in a local atheists group and occasionally pops up in the newspapers in his role as spokesman -- I've seen a photo in the past few years and some letters to the editor from him in the newspaper. He seems to have put Metagaming far behind him -- he's never been in touch with me since 1983 and doesn't seem active in any gaming scene I'm aware of.


  1. There were some puzzling blog posts purported to be from his son, Marcus Thompson, in June. There was eGnome and Metagaming Concepts, Inc. Reach Agreement and Metagaming Concepts, Inc. Announces New Product Release. They're obviously tongue-in-cheek, but I have no idea if they're just jokes, drunken rantings or if there is a kernel of truth to them.

    Then there's the rumor from years ago that someone finally tracked HT down years ago (again, through his son) about purchasing the rights to TFT, and he wanted some outrageous 6 figure amount. Everything about HT and Metagaming at the end is such a mystery (though your recent interviews have certainly helped fill in some blanks).

    It's a shame. I'd love to see TFT really return with the name, with the same rules, some fixes and meet the promise it failed to live up to 30 years ago. I know there are other options, but it seems like if there was any time that the game could be revived, this is it.

  2. Ha! Awhile ago I ran a search on HT, and came up with a reference to some sort of athiest organization. Guess it was him.

    Interesting - it probably explains where the athiest bent of the In The Labyrinth section on religions comes from.

    TFT was a pretty excellent system, though a bit too bare bones. It definitely lacked the flavour of AD&D. Of course, a few pretty minor tweaks here and there could easily fix the problems, and leave one with a clean and fast playing system.

  3. The six-figure story comes from a column Steve Jackson (US) wrote in The Space Gamer shortly before GURPS came out. He said that before starting GURPS he had contacted Thompson about buying TFT and Thompson had requested an "absurd" (possibly not a direct quote) figure which SJ did not specify except to say that it was in the six figures.

    I liked TFT a lot, and probably played it more than any other game except Champions. It was a bit lacking in flavour, though, especially the Melee and Wizard books, but it had some interesting quirks... did anyone use the "day job" system?

  4. I used the day job system, and also played in two excellent TFT campaigns that made use of it "between adventures".