Jorge Zhang

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Interview with Steve Jackson

Hey everyone! As a contributor for the Meeple Times, I have posted this interview on their website here.

Today I am interviewing Steve Jackson, the designer of The Fantasy Trip. The Fantasy Trip is an “old school” RPG that was first released in 1977. Recently, the rights were regained by Steve Jackson, allowing for a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to reprint the game once again. 

The Fantasy Trip

1. How did you personally first start designing RPGs?

I had played D&D and had fun, but was not satisfied with the combat system. I wanted to know where I was in the room, and I didn’t want all the orcs coming at me at once. My first RPG was really just a tactical game, Melee, designed for dungeon combat. But, as things have a way of doing, it grew . . .

2. What games have you been inspired by? These could be board games, other RPGs, or video games.

Well, D&D inspired The Fantasy Trip, and certainly Magic: The Gathering inspired both the CCGs that I designed: INWO and Dino Hunt. Munchkin was inspired by the bad side of D&D, with Monty Haul referees and hack’n’slash players. But most of my inspiration has come from books. Illuminati would never have been if not for Shea and Wilson’s “Illuminatus” trilogy, for instance. Ogre would never have been if Keith Laumer had not written the “Bolo” stories. 

3. What sets The Fantasy Trip apart from other, more modern, RPGs? In other words, what is the appeal of an “old school” RPG?

I think the things that set the old school apart are easy character creation, the dungeon-crawl theme, and playing the classic fantasy tropes straight rather than trying to subvert or deconstruct them.  The appeal is not just nostalgia, but simplicity as well.

4. Have you had to make adaptions in order to modernize The Fantasy Trip to today’s world? If so, what have they been?

Not many, really. The world of classic fantasy hasn’t changed much . . . We still have elves, dwarves, wily wizards and mighty heroes. When it comes down to it, I wasn’t really TRYING to modernize it, except for the production values. Physical presentation has come a long way in 40 years!

5. What would your message be to those who may not have played a lot (or any!) of RPGs, but want to start?

Talk to your friends. Some of them are probably already into RPGs . . . and you need a group! Just remember, you are playing to play, not playing to win.

Bonus question: Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

Depends on what I’m equipped with, if anything! If I am unarmed, barefoot, and running for my life, I have a chance of outpacing the big duck but not the little horses. If I have a baseball bat and maybe some knee guards, I’d rather stand up to the little horses. And so on.

You can find out more about The Fantasy Trip by checking out their website here:

What is your experience with RPGs? Have you played The Fantasy Trip? Let me know in the comments below! Thank you for reading!

© 2020 Jorge Zhang