Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Domesday Book #1

To start off a series of important documents in the history of wargames and role-playing games, we take a close look at Domesday Book #1. As collectors are extremely concerned about forgeries of these rare and valuable issues, I've added a pretty intrusive watermark, but nothing that obscures the main content. The historical context of this and subsequent issues is covered in my book Playing at the World, but here follows an overview.

First of all, the Castle & Crusade Society was not originally called the Castle & Crusade Society. That name does not appear (as a proposal) until issue #4 of the Domesday Book. Here we see that the issue is jointly attributed to the International Federation of Wargaming and the "LGTGA," as the yet-to-be-formed "Militaria Medieval" society. The Lake Geneva Tactical Games Association was the original name of LGTSA, though it persisted for only a couple of weeks in February and March of 1970 - by Domesday Book #2, the name on the masthead is listed as the LGTSA.

Secondly, note the date March 15, 1970. We should date the formation of the Castle & Crusade Society to the publication of this document, early in 1970, not as some sources have it in the 1960s. There was a small amount of correspondence around this same time in the IW Supplement and the IFW Messenger, but nothing prior to February/March, really. There was also an earlier Ancients Society of the IFW that included the medieval setting in its scope, and although Gygax participated in that Society, it was under different administration and it never quite got off the ground.

Thirdly, we see that Rob Kuntz headed the Society from the start, though this sheet was obviously written by Gygax. Note that the original intention was for Kuntz to act as Editor-in-Chief of the Domesday Book, though that ultimately did not come to pass until very late in the existence of the Society.

Finally, among the programs and activities, we see that medieval miniatures rules were among the intended subjects from the start. Amateur board war-games like Crusader (by Gygax, a work originally known as Arsouf, distributed through Panzerfaust in 1969) and England 1066 (by IFW founder Scott Duncan, distributed through the IFW towards the end of 1968) were also in the scope of the Society, as were medieval Diplomacy variants.  The hint of a multiple-commander play-by-mail (MC/PBM) game with "diplomacy" and table-top combat resolution is an early hint of the proposed Great Kingdom system. Articles of general medieval history were also welcome, and a great many future Domesday Books would be fattened by amateur history reports of dubious value. 

We don't, however, read anything about the fantasy setting at this date.


  1. Thanks for overview/commentary. I've been following your posts here and on the Acaeum with interest, and just ordered a hard copy of your new book.

    I'd love to see some similar commentary on the "Great Kingdom" article in Domesday #9.

  2. Thanks for putting this together, Jon. Do you have plans to cover more Domesdaybook issues, as well as other early newsletters (IFW or otherwise)?


  3. Yes, I plan to cover a number of interesting early documents. Look for plenty more in this space!

  4. I would also like to see commentary on the Great Kingdom article.