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The Doclopedia #1,347
Alt. TV: The Mysterious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
On Earth 2-B, the television series “The Wild Wild West” was even more popular than it was on our Earth. It also ran 3 years longer, from 1965 to 1972. During that time, the writers and producers turned up the steampunk elements and had Agents West & Gordon encounter several well known characters from late 19th and early 20th century fiction. Fu Manchu made three appearances, and Count Dracula made two. Jekyll & Hyde, Frankenstein’s Monster (who was portrayed as a decent fellow) and Captain Nemo all got episodes.
But the biggest ratings went to the five episodes featuring Sherlock Holmes as a young man. Played by a young British actor named Steven Drake, this Holmes was still learning and not quite the man he would become. He also had a keen interest in the supernatural. After his first 3 appearances on the show hit ratings gold, the producers decided to make a backdoor pilot for a Holmes series. They did this via the only two part episode in The Wild Wild West’s run. Titled “The Night Of The Howling Horror” and “The Night Of The Hunting Wolf”, the episodes found West, Gordon, Holmes and Holmes friend Ian Winters investigating a series of murders in Denver. Sure enough, a werewolf was the culprit and at the end of episode one, West kills him with a silver bullet…just before another werewolf causes all of their horses to bolt, leaving them in the woods on foot. The next episode was pretty much survival horror, albeit tamed way down for television. In the end, the second werewolf turned out to be the wife of the first one.
The ratings were huge, so CBS commissioned a series, which premiered in 1971. Each episode featured a beginning in which an older Holmes, played by Vincent Price, related a story from his younger days to either Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestrade or Mycroft Holmes, although in one episode he told the story to Mrs. Hudson. At the end of each episode, the person who heard the story would often accuse Holmes of having them on.
The stories followed Homes and Winters around the British Isles, Europe, North America and, in three episodes, India. They encountered real supernatural events, from a family of fairies to the Loch Ness Monster, and a few hoaxes. The strangeness was not limited to the supernatural, either. One episode featured aliens, another had a clockwork robot, and a third was about a young woman with strange dietary needs (fresh human hearts). Almost all of the episodes featured a good bit of action and a few steampunk gadgets.
The series was a big hit and ran for 5 years and 150 episodes, ending in May of 1976. Thirty years later, a series of four feature length motion pictures would be made based upon the series most popular episodes.
…featuring Auntie Rosie, of course!
Some Thoughts On Favorite Roleplaying Genres
So I was recently thinking about the fact that I am both playing in and GMing D&D 5E fantasy games. I’m enjoying them both immensely, but I did realize that, outside of the odd game at conventions, I have not GMed anything but fantasy for several years.
This can, of course, be explained by the fact that D&D style fantasy games are by far the most popular and common types of rpgs out there. If you don’t believe me, check out the D&D Adventurers League or the Pathfinder Society.
Anyway, I was thinking about the genres of games that I have run since becoming a GM about just about 40 years ago. They cover a whole lot of ground and many rules systems, so I thought I’d do up a list. My memory not being what it used to be, I’m sure I left a couple out, but here are the ones I remember, along with the rules systems I used.
Around 500 individual sessions spread out among 7-8 lengthy campaigns and many short ones & one shots, mostly using D&D/AD&D, but with sidetrips into Tunnels & Trolls, Runequest, GURPS Fantasy, Talislanta, and a few homebrew systems.
Science Fiction, mostly Space Opera
Around 50 sessions, mostly in 3 campaigns. Traveller, GURPS Space and a modification of D&D (for a short Star Trek campaign) were the systems of choice.
Around 60 sessions, pretty much evenly split between Ravenloft for AD&D and straight up Call of Cthulhu.
Hero/Weird Menace Pulp
Around 150 sessions, including 4 campaigns. I used the Justice Inc. rules for Hero System at first, but then moved to Chaosiums Basic Roleplaying, GURPS Cliffhangers, D&D, Fudge and Over The Edge.
At least 60 sessions, almost all using Over The Edge, but a few using Fudge.
Only about 10 sessions, with 6 of those using Boot Hill and the remainder using Basic Roleplaying.
200 sessions, mostly using Toon, but with a good bit of Paranoia and a couple of others I can’t recall.
Time Travel/Dimension Hopping
About 10 sessions, all using Fudge
Only 2 sessions, since I am nobody’s historian. Used Call of Cthulhu rules.
About 5 sessions, using the James Bond rules.
Science Fiction, Post Apocalypse
Around a dozen sessions, mostly using GURPS mixed with Car Wars, but a few using Over The Edge.
Science Fiction, Other
Around 8 sessions. Includes everything from a robot uprising to 1950’s giant bugs. Call of Cthulhu rules and Over The Edge.
2 sessions, using Basic Roleplaying.
Assorted Other Genres
10 sessions. Everything from Bunnies & Burrows to Planet of the Apes, using a bunch of systems.
Hmm, that works out to 1,069 gaming sessions. Let’s round it up to 1,700. That comes to a bit over 42 sessions a year over 40 years. Considering that in 1982 and 1983 I ran 2 sessions of AD&D a week for about 48 weeks each year, that takes care of 192. Add in a few one shots and we’ll call that 200. Still comes to an average of 39.4 sessions a year, although several of those years had over 50 sessions a year and some had less than a dozen.
Next time, I might write about genres I’d like to GM more often.