Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Timescape

Issue #26 of TSR UK's Imagine magazine contained the advertisement above, which awakened some long-forgotten memories of reading an article about Treasure Trap, an early LARP that took place in an English castle. Though I can't be certain, it's likely the article in question appeared in the pages of White Dwarf, my main source for gaming news outside North America. In any case, I was enthralled by the idea of fantasy roleplaying "for real" and hoped one day to participate in such an event. 

I was an exchange student in London for a few months in 1987 and had hopes that I might be able to visit Treasure Trap, but never did so for various logistical reasons. In the years since, my interest in this sort of activity has waned considerably (I have, in fact, never LARPed), though I retain an academic interest in historical reenactment and related hobbies. I've had a few friends who were casual participants in SCA events, but, again, have never attended one myself. The SCA is another huge lacuna in my knowledge of the history of our hobby. Its influence on roleplaying isn't huge but it's there, particularly on the west coast scene. I am led to understand that the Perrin Conventions, a set of OD&D house rules and the ultimate origin of Chaosium's influential Basic Role-Playing, owe a lot to Steve Perrin's experience in the SCA, for example.

It's frankly amazing to me that, even after all these years, there are still plenty of nooks and crannies in the history of the hobby that are poorly explored and documented. Had I the resources to do so, I'd love to look into some of these more seriously.

3 comments:

  1. Steve Jackson reported in his "Designer's Notes" for The Fantasy Trip that Melee was strongly influenced by his research as a member of the SCA. By extension, GURPS would also have that flavoring.

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    1. I'm pretty sure I knew that, but thank you for the reminder. My memory is not what it used to be.

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  2. Not entirely sure on this, but I don't think Timescape Adventure Holidays actually ran. Nobody I know who was LARPing at the time remembers them happening and the only trace of them is the adverts in RPG and video game magazines.

    What I'm guessing happened is that they mutated into Garner Adventure Tours, run by Pete Garner after Treasure Trap folded.

    That fits with the data. Those started in 1985, same date as Imagine. More crucially, those ran in Kent and the PO Box given (Harwich) is also in Kent.

    The idea seems to have mutated somewhat from the advert. My understanding is that Garner Adventure Tours were a classic high fantasy LRP (and it was definitely "LRP" not "LARP" in those days) and I can't find any evidence of the more ambitious multi genre approach the advert promotes.

    Garner Adventure Tours later changed into Labyrinthe (who are still going strong today), although interestingly the company wasn't dissolved until 2019.

    That's as much as I can find. If anyone really wants to deep dive into this your best bet would probably be to email Labyrinthe directly and see if they can put you in touch with Dave Garner.

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