Friday, November 19, 2010

Keep on the Hyborian Borderlands?

For a good long while now I have been toying with doing a post about one of the giants of historical miniatures Tony Bath. Bath was one of the great popularizers of ancient and medieval wargaming in the 1960s and is remembered typically these days for running his long-standing Hyborian campaign, a years-long miniatures campaign that had strong proto-rpg elements.

Next week I will be doing a fuller analysis of Bath's Setting Up a Wargames Campaign with an eye to looking at it as a snapshot of the stew of ideas that were floating around the late 1960s and early 1970s—and of course how they came to influence (or evolve in parallel to) our own great game.

But today I wanted to leave you with this uncanny similarity I noticed today when starting to prepare next week's post. The first picture below should be familiar to many of our readers as the mini-setting map of B2: Keep on the Borderlands.

Now check out the second map from Bath's book (this would be a border fort in the Hyborian campaign). Also keep in mind that this is from a book printed in May 1973, while the former went to press in December 1979. Hmm...


  1. Was it Tennessee Ford that said?

    “Good authors plagiarize,
    Great authors steal.”

  2. Hmmmmm...yes, I see what you mean.

  3. > a years-long miniatures campaign that had strong proto-rpg elements

    Korzybski requires clarification. RPG(1976) or RPG(2010)? ;)

    Here's a link to an official "celebrity D&D game" that was run at GenCon 2010: feel free to watch those 60-70 minutes and let me know the /definitive/ distinctions between a "skirmish wargame" and a "roleplaying game".

    Good luck and thank you in advance if you give that a go. :)

  4. I see no overwhelming similarity between the two--they are two distinct maps being located near rivers and hills. One lacks swamps and both have extremely different contour line placements and many other dissimilar features. EGG drew many maps and had better references to go by than this (re: Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition entries, military history maps, et al).

    Nice Hyborian map, though; I've never seen it and I love maps.


  5. Folks, perhaps I was being too opaque, but the "not so serious" label was a flag for me making fun of my own tendency(and many others in the blogosphere) to speculate a bit too much about the most pointless of trivia.

    I still see in a free association way similarities (I should post the second Bath map that shows the Eastern portion of this map with swamps along the river and other KotB features to complete the picture).

    Wow Irbyz, definitely I would go with a 1976-ish proto RPG.

  6. Ah. I should have been with the tone of that one considering my own recent post. ;) OK. So sorry. Please try again... ;)

  7. Which edition of "Setting up a Wargames Campaign" is that map featured in? I have both WRG's Revised 3rd Edition and the "Tony Bath's Ancient Wargaming" compendium from I can't see the map in either! I note too that the matchbox diagram referenced in chapter 4 "Umpires - and the lack of same" is missing from the Revised 3rd Edition. I'm wondering what else is.

  8. I second donjondo's question: Which edition you got that map in, Chris?