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The Fantasy Trip

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What is The Fantasy Trip

The Fantasy Trip (TFT for short) is the name of Metagaming's role-playing rules system. It was published in the late 1970's and early 1980s, first as a set of "microgames", then as an expanded set of three rules books. There were also a number of adventures published using the rules set. It was excellent: simple rules with complex and flavorful interactions. The designer, Steve Jackson, went on to publish GURPS, which continues the tradition of excellence, but is, perhaps, too complex for younger players.

Younger children have a different approach to RPGs. The subtle nuances of character and motivation that adults find compelling often bore a young child. My children, at least, want a game with a lot of action and very little talking, with properly evil and obvious villains, no complex motivations, and great deeds of heroism. They like the idea that their characters (and, by extension, themselves) are special, extra-powerful, chosen for and growing into a hero's destiny, and all that sort of thing. They think it's fine for their characters to search for the tricky solution, and love to outsmart the bad guy (as well as outfight him), but they don't want to have to worry about shades of grey. And they really want to be the good guys, with right on their side.

The Fantasy Trip makes an excellent introduction to RPGs. The rules are quite simple. The player can usually fit a character concept into the rules without problems. Combat and magic, though simple, give enough flavor to keep interest. And the play moves along fairly quickly, fast enough to keep a 10-year-old from getting bored. I'd recommend starting with the Melee microgame rules, then adding Wizard, then moving to the full-sized Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard, and In the Labyrinth rule books after the players are familiar with the microgames.

Postscript: When I wrote these pages, the rules were out of print. Metagaming went out of business in 1983, but it owned the copyright until 2017. Copies were hard to find, sometimes showing up on eBay. In 2017, Steve Jackson Games was able to buy the rights, and it's now back in print.


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