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Alexander Dotor once interviewed Greg Stafford, during which Greg Stafford stated the following:

Greg Stafford: I knew about D&D. I had a friend in Lake Geneva who was picking up abelt buckle catalogue at the printer and he saw another guy there and asked what it was. They guy said, A fantasy game. My buddy said, Hey, I have a friend making one of those. Can I buy a copy from you? And he did. Well, The guy was Gary Gygax and the gaming system the first copy of D&D ever sold. We read it but if you know that game, it was editorially terrible. At Chaosium we thought about a role-playing game with Glorantha as gaming world, but we needed a gaming system. I finally met Steve Perrin who had developed a gaming system and he created our system: RuneQuest. It was published in 1978.

There's been a lot of debate in the past as to the relevance of this fact, and the influence D&D would have had on Rune Quest (and Chaosium games) and potentially even all games which came after.

I'm after a pretty narrow answer, in a broader context:

  1. Narrowly, does the quote above, in the context of the above interview, or other evidence, bear out the claim that the first-ever sold copy came into Greg Stafford's possession about the time he had founded Chaosium?
  2. Broadly, for the sake of context, I'm interested in the influence of how Chaosium was an early influence on D&D. Certainly by the time of D&D 3.5, the game designers were talking about the great influence that RQ had on them, but what about before that? I've never found anywhere where Gygax and Arneson acknowledge that they had noticed the existence of Chaosium, but since RQ2 became D&D's chief rival, that can't actually be the case. How about earlier, say pre-1980? (This half of the qn is too broad to be a non-discussion question, but it explains my interest).
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Hello @C.. and wecome to rpg.stackexchange. I find your question a little difficult to understand, and it seems very disucssion-oriented, which is discouraged on stackexchange sites, so ot might get closed. Don't take it personnaly if that happens, and stick around in ourxommunity! You can check out the FAQ where you'll find some guidelines on questions to ask on rpg.stackexchange. –  LeguRi Nov 14 '10 at 13:09
@LeguRi: OK. Please feel free to rephrase it, if you think it is in any way rescuable. I guess I'm really asking: does this claim of Stafford form part of a meaningful Arneson/Gygax -> Chaosium -> Arneson/Gygax influence. It seems clear to me that there is one, and that others aren't convinced, and I'm trying to nail down what's going on in one of the clearest jigsaw pieces in this argument. –  Alticamelus Nov 14 '10 at 13:15
. I did my best; let me know if I've lost the original intent of your question. –  LeguRi Nov 14 '10 at 14:53
Not sure this question can be answered. Seems too "bar discussion" more appropriate for late nights at a con. –  anon186 Nov 14 '10 at 16:34
@Legui: The body of the question is great, many thanks! The title is the wrong way around: the interview tells us that Stafford's reaction to seeing the copy was to say, paraphrased, "Chaeosium's got to do one of those, and we can do it better." We know Chaosium games eventually influenced D&D: later D&D game designers like Robin laws were steeped in RQ. And we know that Stafford was already had the idea for a fantasy game before that: White Bear, Red Moon. But how early was this influence: did D&D designers like Arneson take note of what Chaosium were up to before, say RQ2 came out? –  Alticamelus Nov 15 '10 at 6:41
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closed as not a real question by Jeremiah Genest, LeguRi, Jadasc, Adam Dray, Pat Ludwig Nov 15 '10 at 16:31

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2 Answers

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Early Runequest is a combination of two things. The first is the setting, Glorantha, by Stafford. Glorantha was in development well before D&D became a major market force. In this regard it shares a similar history to Harn and Tekumal. Both of which preexisted D&D as their author's private creation.

The second was rules developed by Steve Perrin. These were directly impacted by D&D starting as a set of house rules for Perrin's campaign spreading throughout various West Coast groups. A copy of these rules are known as the Perrin Convention. They were first printed in All the World's Monsters II by Chaosium. In fact you can read them on page 4 of the full size preview.

As it wound up; Perrin's rules were combined with Stafford's Glorantha to make early Runequest. Runequest in turn was a major influence on the development and acceptance of skill based systems for roleplaying games. Which in turn worked it way into D&D starting with the Survival Guide proficiencies in late 1st edition AD&D.

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Good stuff. major influence on the development and acceptance of skill based systems - Do you have a reference for this? –  Alticamelus Nov 15 '10 at 20:55
Two very good answers, not an easy choice. This most directly answers my broader concern, so accepted. –  Alticamelus Nov 16 '10 at 10:38
Thanks and to answer your first comment. No other than my own personal recollection and the fact it was the 2nd most popular fantasy RPG for a while. Runequest was the first RPG I know of that totally did away with any type of class. –  RS Conley Nov 16 '10 at 13:08
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D&D set the mode of play for RPG's through at least 1980... certain others deviate from the mode of play into more abstract in the 80's, and into more story driven in the 90's.

I'm rather certain that Greg was aware of RPGs before he bought a copy of D&D, as he was a game designer, and had seen play at conventions. (He's mentioned this in some discussions on WWG's Pendragon forums, now defunct.) When he wrote RQ with Steve Perrin, there were already at least 3 games on the market: D&D, Starfaring, and T&T. And Starfaring and T&T are in fact responses to D&D by Ken St. Andre.

Greg has not mentioned participation in the Braunstein games (which predate D&D by several years, and are part of the origin of D&D).

The quote in the question is the proof that D&D influenced RQ... Greg had a copy, found it editorially lacking, and set out to do better.

Note: RPGGeek cites Greg Stafford and Steve Perrin codesgined RQ1, and it was published in 1978; Boardgame Geek notes that White Bear and Red Moon was published in 1975. That frames the timeframe for D&D influence on RQ1.

T&T was 1975, as was Starfaring. Both by Ken St. Andre.

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Greg was aware of RPGs before he bought a copy of D&D - Definitely - he says the difficulties he had finding a publisher for White Bear, Red Moon (the first Gloranthan game, and very much high fantasy) were what led him to found Chaosium, and look for other game ideas that he could publish. It was then that he got hold of the D&D photocopy. RQ came much later, and I think he didn't meet Steve Perrin until a bit later. The question is more the other way around: the influence of early Chaosium games on early D&D folk: the quote is but a piece in the jigsaw, one the WP editors don't see. –  Alticamelus Nov 15 '10 at 6:58
RQ postdates Glorantha by several years. according to rpggeek.com/rpgitem/43637/runequest-1st-edition Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford cowrote RQ1, and it was 1978 published. –  aramis Nov 15 '10 at 7:54
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