Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Five Lortzian Games
uncle_gnoll
At Steve Lortz's memorial, mention was made of his involvement in gaming, but the speakers for the most part didn't understand just how central gaming was to his heart. It is worth mentioning that, on his last day on the street, the last thing he did before he collapsed was buy miniature figures. Here is a short description of his three published games, and of two that never quite got into print.

"Perilous Encounters" (Chaosium, 1978) - This was a straight up fantasy miniatures game, using only D6 and intended to play fast and easy. It became the Chaosium's unofficial house miniature game, and they offered a "Dragon Pass Conventions" supplement for the price of a SASE that filled in everything for the more peculiar creatures in Chaosium's world of Glorantha.

"Panzer Pranks" (Chaosium, 1980) - This was a hex grid based WWII tank game, intended as a parody of every other game of the type. There was a "swamp" scenario that usually ended with every single piece on the board sinking into the muck; there was an optional rule that allowed every piece on a side to transfer all of its movement points to a single piece (producing the occasional hypersonic tank), and a scenario involving a magic Coca-cola machine that made the US forces invincible as long as they were close enough.

"Quactica" (Skirmisher, 2008) - This was something of a second edition of Perilous Encounters, with a change of focus. Where PE was intended to present a generic fantasy world, Quactica presented a world full of anthropomorphic animals, particularly Steve's beloved ducks. There was talk of a Quactica RPG to follow, but it never materialized.

"Dark Worlds" (unpublished) - Sometime in 1978 or 1979, Steve's brother Kurt had the idea to base a role-playing game on the works of HP Lovecraft. Steve had ties to the Chaosium, and the Lortzes pitched the game there. Chaosium acquired the gaming rights to Lovecraft's works, and Kurt, with Steve and a group of friends, went to work on developing the game. Kurt built a game system from the ground up. When Kurt presented the game to Chaosium, they looked it over, and then asked Kurt to please convert the game to their established "Basic Role Playing" system. They also wanted Kurt to jigger the rules to make firearms less effective. Kurt gave it some thought, and refused. Chaosium then recruited Sandy Petersen, who turned the Lovecraft material into a game called, "Call of Cthulhu," which became a huge hit. There are interesting contrasts beween the two games, the basic mechanical changes notwithstanding. "CoC" models the fundamental despair of Lovecraft's work, with every player character descending slowly and inevitably into insanity. "DW", on the other hand, puts the players in the position of being the only truly sane characters in the game. Unspeakable evil is encroaching, and the players are the only ones who know it, or are capable of believing it. "DW" still feels a great deal like Lovecraft, but it also occasionally allows the players to actually WIN. It's interesting to speculate how different things might have been if Kurt had been able to work out a compromise with Chaosium. I have never believed that despair and inevitable loss was a necessary part of the appeal of "CoC".

"Arr! Scurvy Dogs" (unpublished) - This was a skirmish level pirate game developed with and for the gaming club that Steve ran when he was a teacher at Summit Academy in Indianapolis. Each player controlled eight or nine single character figures to accomplish specific ends. The basic game had three players: pirates, colonial military, and islanders. Each group had special abilities and unique victory conditions. It could be played with up to six players, with two conflicting pirate groups, two conflicting military groups, and two conflicting islander groups. Steve came up with many different scenarios over the years, and it generated a LOT of good stories; I got to play it once, at GenCon in 2008. Steve had a big case with all of the terrain and pre-painted figures for everything. He never actually wrote the rules down, for some reason, just the character sheets, and the necessary player materials. He seemed reluctant to let it get out of his hands, for some reason, which was a shame, because it was a GREAT game.

Uncle G'Noll

  • 1

Some further details

After the falling out with Chaosium, Dark Worlds continued to be developed for a few years, minus the Lovecraft elements, as a vampire-hunting rpg. This required a reworking from the ground up and I don't know how many copies of the "Mark V" version exist, besides the one I have on my shelf.

There's another unpublished game of Steve's, produced relatively recently and using actual dried beans as game pieces. I'll provide more details on it when i have had a chance to dig it out.

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account