Monday, January 02, 2012

Warfare in the Age of Awesome

"Finally, we held the ultimate playtest - eight people each designed their own armies, using the recently developed "Creating Armies" rules. The TSR designers are a sneaky, underhanded bunch, and they all pored through the manuals trying to create the nastiest, most powerful, most outrageous armies they could find. The final battle took place on three planes (Ethereal, Astral, and Prime Material) with about 40% of the total forces invisible when the game began. There were devas, planetars, mezzodaemons, galeb duhr, and 10,000 gibberlings - each with a sword and a girdle of storm giant strength. There were catapults firing mirrors of life trapping that contained powerful monsters. There was a force of 220 invisible shadow dragons. There were three hundred-handed giants (see the Legends and Lore volume for details). There were drow cavalry on nightmares (they didn't last long). It took 8 hours of playing time (and 4 large deep-dish pizzas) to get through two turns . . . but it was an incredible amount of fun, and a lot was learned.

That led to the sixth draft . . . and eventually to the seventh."

--Michael Dobson, describing his work on the original Battlesystem supplement, Dragon #100 (August 1985), p96.


  1. Anonymous7:45 PM

    Catapults launching mirrors of life trapping! Gonzo playtesting at its finest.

  2. I approve, for what it's worth.

  3. This is why Battlesystem was awesome.

    That and my friend's 16th level Paladin charging and routing a whole unit of ogres.

    I don't play AD&D anymore but I still use the counters from battlesystem on my hexmaps as substitute minis!

  4. Suddenly the awesome mini battle for By the Axe I ran today seems so inadequately awesome in comparison.

  5. Anonymous10:22 PM

    Glad to hear they went all-out. that's how you playtest properly: TRY to break the game. That said, I have owned two editions of Battlesystem but never actually played it. :/

  6. Dang, Chris, I wasn't trying to bring you down!

  7. That article was one that stuck in my mind. Even to this day that "10,000 gibberlings.." line has stuck in my brain because it sounds like something one of my old group would have done.