Stelio's Adventures in Wonderland
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This GeekList tells the story of role-playing games in my life. For reference in regards to the years that I have listed, here's a simplified list of where I have made my home at various times:
1978 - Newcastle, where I was born, raised and schooled
1996 - Edinburgh, where I went to university
1999 - Salisbury, where I became a tax-payer
2001 - Southampton, where I played lots of board games
2007 - York, where I met my (then-future now-actual) wife
2010 - Merstham, where I'm currently raising my own family

The GeekList is not posted to the front page of the site, simply because it's perhaps not the kind of thing that will interest many folks. I wrote this for myself primarily, to let me keep track, but having created it I figured that there's no harm in sharing.

This is part of the Lifetime RPG Experiences - a metalist.
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1. RPG Item: Home Made / Homebrew Rules + Adventures [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
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United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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1982

Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

Boggle's Kingdom was my first RPG. I created it myself at the age of 4, and ran games for friends at school. There was a map of the setting, and various prepared encounters. There was no actual system: the story was all driven by narrative player choices and GM decisions. At the time, I had never heard of role-playing games.

Particular encounters included:

Meeting a beggar on the street of the city. Showing generosity towards him would be rewarded as he later turned out to be a disguised wise man.

A chest, simulated IRL by crouching my right hand over my flat left palm. Opening the chest would reveal that it contained a little man (my wiggling right thumb) who had been cruelly imprisoned by Boggle and would thank the player for being freed.

The final battle with the evil Boggle himself. He was simulated by two fists, thumbs upwards, left thumb held in the right clenched fist. The right thumb at the top was his bobbing head, over his vast body. He would bounce forwards and backwards, crushing his enemies. The weak point that, if struck, would kill Boggle was at his waistline - between the two fists. In retrospect that sounds somewhat like a pod-shot.
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2. RPG Item: The Third Planet from Altair [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
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Surrey
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I had gamebooks before I had co-operative role-playing games. The Third Planet from Altair is the earliest one that I was given, as far as I recall. It will have been a present from a relative, probably for a birthday or Christmas.
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3. RPG: Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:225]
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Redhill
Surrey
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The exotic settings and more involving game systems made the Fighting Fantasy books rather more attractive than the simple choices of the CYOA books. I owned and read a range of these books. In particular I loved replaying and mapping Book 21: Trial of Champions.

 
 
 
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4. RPG: Lone Wolf Gamebooks [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:125]
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Redhill
Surrey
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The continuity of plot (and the again-more complex game system) made the Lone Wolf books a solid favourite, beating the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks in my opinion. Over the years I read these books avidly, keenly waiting for the next publication to be released. I remember the particular section of Blackwell's on Barras Bridge that I would frequent.

I collected Lone Wolf up to book 16 in 1991, before stopping. Oddly I never did own a copy of Grey Star the Wizard; it went out of print and so I read the three books in that series without knowing how the story began (which somewhat reduced the emotional impact of the protagonist's companions).


(Some cover images for the appropriate editions are not yet in the database, which is why there are blank placeholders in the above.)
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5. RPG: Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Role-Playing Game [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:505]
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Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Stelio in East Boldon.

This is the earliest proper commercial tabletop RPG to which I was exposed. I ran a one-on-one game for my grandfather who played hardened adventurer Stumpy One-Leg. Poor Stumpy mostly faced unending hordes of monsters (courtesy of Out of the Pit) whilst crossing a series of underground rivers.

 
 
 

Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

I also ran the adventures in Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Role-Playing Game and The Riddling Reaver for my friends. I made up my own adventures too, maps for which should be hidden amongst my personal paperwork somewhere.
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6. RPG: Advanced Fighting Fantasy [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:356]
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Surrey
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1989

Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

These books upped the Fighting Fantasy RPG, moving the system from a three-attribute basic combat mechanic to a more expansive game including special skills and magic. The adventures were interesting stories rather than infeasible dungeon crawls, and even linked together to form a continuous campaign. Good adventure ideas and tips on running games were completed by fantastic illustrations, all in all creating a set of books that hold fond memories for me.

 
 

I didn't find out about the third volume, Allansia, until RPG Geek was created. Luckily I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an only-rather-expensive copy in 2013 which completes this collection.

At this stage I have no plans to invest in the new edition of the game, published from 2011 onwards.
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7. RPG: Basic Dungeons & Dragons [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:97]
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1989

I received the famous Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules as a gift for my 11th birthday. This was something I had chosen myself. Whilst on the relevant shopping trip, I was torn between HeroQuest and D&D. My decision was made in that I knew there was also an Advanced Heroquest (and of course I preferred to get the advanced version) and so opted for D&D.

 
 

If you've got a big sword, you don't need armour!

As it turned out, I found out that Advanced D&D existed only some time later. And I never did get Advanced HeroQuest, instead receiving the basic HeroQuest as a gift at some other point.

I read the Advanced HeroQuest content in White Dwarf and mourned my loss (although I did love playing HeroQuest). And I became a staunch advocate of D&D over AD&D, judging the additional rules of the latter to be needlessly complex (STR 18/00?!).

Over time I've collected nearly a complete set of Basic D&D / Mystara content. Most of this was bought when it was new. I've since had two stints of attempting to fill the gaps: once when I was living in Southampton, and the other being now with the ascendancy of RPG Geek. The gaps, by the way, stem from my belief at the time that I didn't need to buy adventure modules, not realising that they also contained some valuable background information for the Mystara setting.

Stelio's D&D RPG Collection (external link)
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8. Periodical: Dragon
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1990

Dragon was my staple magazine for a few years. I would buy it from the WHSmith newsagent in Central Station, Newcastle, which I passed through each day on the journey to and from school. Many of the articles were of interest, but my favourites were The Voyage of the Princess Ark / The Known World Grimoire (for their D&D support) and The Marvel-Phile (which was fascinating background for comics I had never read).

These were the issues I owned (although I also recall the monsters from #156, so I must have read someone else's copy of that):

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1990 162 163
1991 165 166 168 170 172 173 174 175
1992 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187
1993 189 190 191 193 196 200

At the end of 1993, Basic Dungeons & Dragons was discontinued and the Mystara setting moved into the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition) portfolio. At this point my interest in reading Dragon disappeared entirely, since it no longer supported "my" game. So with the final instalment of The Known World Grimoire appearing in historically significant issue 200, I stopped buying it. (You can see that I was already intermittent with my purchases of Dragon by then, anyway, as less content was of interest to me.)

I kept my copies for many years, re-reading them with fond nostalgia, until I bought the Dragon Magazine Archive CD set (pictured right, which includes all issues up to 250). At this point I gave up my paper copies for recycling; mostly this was a concession to my mother's belief that I had too many of these fantasy books (but of course I never gave in to that).
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9. RPG: Rifts [Average Rating:5.51 Overall Rank:760]
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Surrey
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1990

We played a lot of Rifts at school over the years, with various people in our loose group of gamers taking on the role of running the game (myself included for a particular one-on-one adventure set in South America). The nature of the setting allowed every player to indulge their whims in character creation, whether it be with the infeasible firepower of a Glitterboy or the raw physical extremes of a Juicer.

I tended to prefer playing Mutants: anthropomorphic animals of various types. Typically they were horrendously underpowered in comparison to other characters, but that never seemed to matter to me (or indeed to the others).

World Book 01: Vampire Kingdoms is the only Rifts book I have ever owned myself (and sadly its current whereabouts are a mystery to me).

It was the World of Darkness that eventually took the accolade of most popular RPG away from Rifts, amongst our school group (see below).
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10. Setting: Dark Sun
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1991

Run by Nason in Newcastle.

AD&D attracted a lot of kids in the 1990s. It was played to a fair extent amongst my peers at school.

I particularly remember playing Dark Sun, which was so different to other fantasy settings. The setting was filled with new ideas, so of course I opted to play something new and cool: a Thri-Kreen.
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11. RPG: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st Edition) [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:35]
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Redhill
Surrey
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I love the career progression system in WFRP. Reading through the tables and planning a character was great fun; I suspect that I spent more time on that than actually playing the game.

Oddly I don't actually remember the details of my character at all.
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1991

I bought Werewolf: The Apocalypse (1st Edition) from its advertisements in Dragon. With that, my World of Darkness collection began. I was heavily into the full line of RPGs, buying pretty nearly all of the books. I missed out on some of the earliest Vampire books as they were published even earlier, but many of these were re-released in compilations, and Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition) appeared in 1992 anyway.

This dominated my role-playing for many years, through my last years at school, all of university, and into the start of my working life. Only then, without a dedicated gaming group, did I stop collecting. By then I was still involved in Vampire LARPs (as you'll see below) but was playing nearly no tabletop. So in 2000 I stopped buying the books, just four years short of White Wolf terminating the entire set of RPGs themselves.








Now, with the rise of RPG Geek, I've found opportunities to fill some gaps in my collection, with the ultimate aim of having a complete set of World of Darkness RPG books. But not the rebooted World of Darkness; that holds no interest for me.

Stelio's WoD RPG Collection (external link)
Share a Game - Vampire: the Masquerade
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13. RPG Item: Werewolf: The Apocalypse (1st Edition) [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1638]
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Surrey
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Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

Werewolf: Old New York

Least said, soonest mended. It was my first try at running the Storyteller system, and it was first edition Werewolf. I was young, the players were young, we'd been brought up on D&D and similarly combat-heavy games. What can I say? The guys made their characters, I used the Central Park setting in the back of the book. Player conflicts became character conflicts, and they tried to kill each other. So much for pack ties. That's basically how I remember it. Put it this way, of the two guys who had this conflict, one took a Get of Fenris (heavily combat-oriented and misogynistic male) and the other a Black Fury (heavily combat-oriented and feministic female). Need I say more?
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14. RPG: Vampire: The Masquerade [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:70]
He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

Vampire: Original Newcastle

Much better! My own setting in a place I was familiar with and NPCs I'd constructed myself. I set the chronicle in Newcastle, in the North East of England. We were all from Newcastle in real life so we all knew the place. I made a large range of NPCs, and had some good long term plans. Newcastle was basically set up as a "no questions asked" stop off point between (Toreador-controlled) Edinburgh and (Ventrue-controlled) London. It worked very well; I could see my political machinations being born from this beginning. Although we eventually stopped playing shortly after the overthrow and death of the Nosferatu Prince, I've always kept this as my idea of how Newcastle works in the World of Darkness and have reused the setting in subsequent chronicles.
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15. RPG: Call of Cthulhu (2nd - 6th Edition) [Average Rating:8.21 Overall Rank:1]
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United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Matthew in Newcastle.

Most notable for the unfortunate end of my investigator who found an ornate lacquered puzzle box and tried opening it. Rolling a 00, he was immediately removed from play and became a Cenobite...


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16. RPG: Werewolf: The Apocalypse [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:160]
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United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

Werewolf: Original Garou

The same group of players again as for the prior World of Darkness chronicles. I don't remember a lot of the details of this series of stories, although I do remember some of the characters. There was definitely an anti-Wyrm feel to the campaign, and they had adventures on both sides of the velvet curtain. They also ran most of the Valkenburg Foundation stories, meeting Samuel Haight for the first time.
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17. RPG: Star Wars (WEG Original Edition) [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:60]
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United Kingdom
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Surrey
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Run by Duncan in Newcastle.

I'm fairly sure I played a Smuggler called Shadwell (although he may have been a Bounty Hunter). The name was inspired by Clive Barker's novel, Weaveworld.
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18. RPG: Mage: The Ascension [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:76]
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United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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1993?

Run by Mo in Newcastle.

A short-running game in which we played through (I think only part of) the Loom of Fate story.

My Cultist of Ecstasy character gained Quiet (a form of madness for Mages) by acting too chaotically. Oops!
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19. RPG Item: Home Made / Homebrew Rules + Adventures [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Bob in Newcastle.

Bob developed his own setting and (I believe) rules for Advent, a game set in the far future; a mix of science-fiction and surreal comedy. This was a lovely piece of work and it's a shame that it pretty much fizzled out.

It was also instrumental in preventing us from playing Phoenix Command, which was Bob's other choice to run, so that was a lucky escape! Phoenix Command is ridiculously complicated: we trying it out and in the full session we didn't manage to complete even a single combat round. In fact, I think I didn't actually provide any input at all.


I've still got a copy of the introduction to Advent that Bob typed up. It covers the beginning of character creation, but didn't get as far as task resolution, so there's not enough to justify adding it to the database. I asked him recently if he'd ever developed it any further, but his answer was, "No. Not least because it was hopelessly derivative."
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20. RPG Item: HōL [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1649]
He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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1994

I bought this marvellous book because it was published by White Wolf Entertainment AB. Otherwise, I imagine that it would never have come to my attention. How pleased I am that it received the Black Dog Game Factory stamp of approval.

At my school we had an annual prize day at which pupils that excelled in any particular academic or sporting field were rewarded with books. The process was that you bought the book(s) within a designated budget and gave them to the school in advance, and then they handed them back out on the evening of the prize day ceremony itself. I had spare budget one year, and the school gave me the commemorative sticker to put in whatever I bought, which ended up being HōL. That evening's ceremony was far less boring than other years' as I had some very entertaining content to read.

Share a Game: HōL
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21. RPG: Wraith: The Oblivion [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:207]
He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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1994?

Run by Matthew in Newcastle.

Another short-lived World of Darkness game. I think as an entire group we didn't have the necessary maturity to appreciate and successfully play this game. It's a tricky one to get right, both from the Storyteller's point of view in capturing the particularly dark setting, and from the players' point of view in taking on the role of each others' shadows.

I'm glad we tried it, and I would definitely like to give this one another go. Particularly with the maturity and experience that age has granted me, both of which I think are essential in getting this RPG to play well.
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22. Series: Diablerie
He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

Vampire: Diablerie Chronicles

For a bit of a change, I took the players in Newcastle, let them take above-average Sabbat characters, and threw them into the two Diablerie adventures set in Mexico and Britain. It gave them a break from the usual moralistic heroic stuff and let me run a dungeon bash without having to think at all. There were plenty of humorous moments, many of which were hugely memorable ("My God... it's full of fish..."). It was fun.

 

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23. RPG: Judge Dredd the Role-Playing Game (Games Workshop) [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:449]
He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Matthew in Newcastle.

I played a Psi-Judge, as I recall. I'm pretty sure that one or more of the Dark Judges featured as the antagonists, but I could be mistaken.
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He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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Run by Stelio in Newcastle.

Salad: The Newcastle Campaign

Realising the dangers of character conflicts, everyone started out as Fianna. What started out as your average kind of tales (although I wrote them all myself) extended into very complex web of intrigue. Old characters left and new ones arrived, and soon we had a very mixed party. To give you an idea: the Silent Strider betrayed the party, joining forces with the Black Spiral Dancer ancient enemy of the past life of the Fianna hero, and that player instead brought in a Corax character, who was friends with the Mummy that helped the party defeat the Infernalist Lasombra child, who was a minion of a demon that had targeted a powerful Marauder for possession, whose sister was the party's Galliard, whose past girlfriend (now a wraith) was corrupted by the demon, and the Galliard ended up with her girlfriend's soul and her own within the one body. That may sound like an example of the worst excesses of the World of Darkness, but I assure you that each twist was part of a gradual evolution in the story and it was all perfectly reasonable at the time.

It was very scary, because everything made sense (even when one of the party spontaneously revealed himself to be an angel) and the plot lines were spinning themselves without any intervention from me. Things would just happen, and I was there to tell them, not to push the story in any particular direction. I did use the Samuel Haight stories to an extent, and even that tied in, with the demon Shaitan eventually being freed and setting off to free the other Ba'ali, so that all the party had learned about demons became their key focus for the future story. At around this point though, we abandoned that party to legend, and I wasn't able to spend the time on the Newcastle group being that I was at university in Edinburgh.
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25. Periodical: White Wolf Magazine
He went overloading on testing and coding and his name was
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
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1995

It was in 1995 that I started collecting this magazine. I'd seen it advertised in the back of various World of Darkness books, but issue 51 relaunched the periodical with a mandate to cover all media rather than only games. This seemed like an interesting time to get involved, so I starting buying White Wolf Inphobia.

It was a relatively brief period of fun though, as the magazine ceased publication following issue 57. The new direction was unpopular with the existing readership, and failed to enthuse enough new readers to be considered a success.

 
 
 

 
 
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