Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Minaria

Middle Earth? Nope. Maztica? Nope? Mystara? Nope (though there are tales of woe and intrigue on that one). Minaria.



I've already talked about Glorantha, and how my entry into that world was through one of the best fantasy board games I had encountered - White Bear & Red Moon. Now, let me move onto ANOTHER of the better fantasy board games - Divine Right.

I don't know how Divine Right fell into the constellation of TSR products - it was there before I arrived. But it was a collection of boxed games that TSR hit-and-missed with for years. Little Big Horn, William the Conqueror, War of the Wizards (another favorite, Tekumel themed), 4th Dimension, Lankhmar, all these shared the same compact inch-deep box. But Divine Right was one of the better ones. It had that White Bear & Red Moon vibe with a group of fantasy kingdoms forming alliances and marching out to beat each other up. Until WBRM, Divine Right was multiplayer, and you could control an alliance of disparate countries until randomly determined rulers.
Minaria! The Map of Divine Right.

But that's not why it was cool (though we should note it was a great game design from Glenn Rahman, the cover was by his brother Kenneth, and the map itself was by the late Dave Trampier). No, a series of articles that Rahman penned for DRAGON magazine for about 20 issues, going into incredible detail of these kingdoms. Called Minarian Legends, they were for a two-year period about the best part of Dragon, and, with Trampier's Wormy, part of the magazine's golden age for me.

Rahman went into (admittedly, nigh-opaque at times) detail on a particular kingdom or region, leaving no stone unturned, in a fashion that absolutely convinced me there was a strong, vibrant world. This was 1979 or so. In comparison, the World of Greyhawk folio, the first in-depth look at Oerth, was published in the late summer of 1980, so that meant for a short while, Minaria was a more detailed, fully-realized published world than Greyhawk itself.

So why didn't it make the leap from board game to RPG? It almost did, at least once. This is part of a larger tale, but TSR briefly considered Divine Right as a basis for a new campaign world. Oddly enough, this was shortly after it had returned all rights to Mr. Rahman, which sort of put the kibosh on that idea. Without that world, it instead went with another campaign to bring out a campaign of kings - that would be Birthright.

More later,