This game idea is the second application of the shared primary character notion I first tried in Doctor Chaos. It’s also my personal enjoyment of the terms I posed in the third round of Ronnies in late 2005, which included soviet and dragon.

[The People's Hero] Glasnost role-playing describes the earliest playtesting. I also sold an ashcan version of the game at GenCon 2009, which received some playtesting described in [People's Hero] A first stab at saving the USSR from itself, and other playtesting reports show me that it has a tough initial-concept learning curve. So I’m working hard on making the text stronger.

The teaser text
In 1976, the First Main Directorate of the KGB received agent reports of a new, innovative hobby emerging in the United States of America. An operation was initiated to investigate and secure the relevant documents, and within weeks, analysts in the Lubyanka were profoundly confused by their copy of the 1974 GenCon edition of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as select Judges Guild modules and issues of Dragon Magazine. Soon, however, agents delivered manuscript copies of the 1977 edition of Basic Dungeons & Dragons, stealthily duplicated from J. Eric Holmes’ notes as he labored over them, finally providing enough information to figure out how to play the game.

At which point, all First Main Directorate activity ceased for six months. Agents around the world wondered if their case officers had been assassinated. Knocking at office doors resulted only in cries of “Bug off! We’re busy!” and, if one pressed an ear to the door, one might hear the rattling of dice.

Inevitably, the Party investigated and, upon discovering that the world’s premier espionage service had been wholly distracted by the apparent desire to kill orcs and level-up, was about to send the whole pack of them off to mental hospitals and labor camps. Fortunately, a quick thinker spoke up: “Comrades! Dungeons & Dragons is not merely a game. It is an indoctrination device of imperialist, militaristic values! We are developing a counter-game, with different values and a different vision, which could serve as our chief weapon in this new, shadowy war of popular culture.”

Skeptics inquired as to the status of this new counter-game, but were disappointed to discover not one but a dozen proto-games which had arisen during the six-month blackout. Furthermore, the entire First Main Directorate attested that D&D, or “AD&D,” as some insisted on calling it, was clearly the big new hobby sweeping the United States and the western bloc, soon to dominate such clunky things as Pong and clearly past-its-peak rock music.

A committee was formed to develop the perfect game to counter the insidious influence of D&D, including representatives from all interested bureaus and directorates.In due course, a game design was presented for review and entered into the deliberate, perhaps meandering, but above all slow bureaucracy of adoption into Soviet practices and policies. It never did appear, but a samizdat from the middle 1980s has recently been recovered which purports to reproduce this game, even including some design notes apparently liberated from KGB files. Hence, at long last, The People’s Hero can see the light of day.