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History of the IFGS

The IFGS was founded in 1981 in Boulder, Colorado by John Cade and Mark Simmons. Cade, a fencing enthusiast and Simmons, manager of a local hobby shop, ran a game called The Truing in the summer of 1981 where players who were experienced fencers were the only ones who were allowed to fight in melee - using fencing foils and wooden staves! It quickly became apparent that foam weapons were necessary for the enjoyment of everyone.

By the following year, 8 more games ran, and by 1987 the IFGS had begun to spread across the U.S., with its second chapter in Dallas, TX. The organization in Boulder became the Denver/Boulder chapter and a new organization, the Society, was formed to standardize games in different locations.

Chapters in New England and Los Angeles quickly sprung up, and by 1989 the IFGS was large enough to host is own convention, Once Upon a Con, which ran annually from 1989 through 1993. Once Upon a Con featured guests of honor such as Steven Barnes, Larry Niven, Steven Brust, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Simon Hawke, Jennifer Roberson, Robin Wood, Walt Freitag and Rick Cook. Many of these guests participated in IFGS games run at these conventions.

By the 1990s there were chapters in Alabama, Ohio, Wisconsin, Atlanta, Oklahoma as well as multiple chapters in Colorado. Today, the IFGS has a number of chapters across the United States.

The list of games run during the first 20 years of the IFGS is long and varied - from small minigames with a participation of a half dozen people to huge festivals with over 250 participants. IFGS games attract young and old alike, and offer experiences for every taste - whether that be serious, heroic fantasy, dark, challenging games or light, humorous romps in the park. Here are some photos from an early game in 1983.

The Dream Park connection

The International Fantasy Gaming Society, Inc. (IFGS) is named after the fictional organization described in the Dream Park series of novels (by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes). Similar to the organization described in the novels, the IFGS designs, runs, and sanctions various fantasy based live action role-playing games. Niven and Barnes attended an early IFGS convention and Steven Barnes played in an IFGS licensed game in Colorado. Niven later played in a game in California. In subsequent Dream Park novels, the authors adopted the "real" IFGS as the historic background for their future one, and provided the "real" IFGS with publicity, as well as donating the original manuscript of one of the Dream Park novels to the IFGS for fund raising purposes.

20th Anniversary Awards

The Society Board decided to select 20 members to honor for Society level service to coincide with the 20th anniversary celebration of IFGS on July 29, 2001. We intentionally did not consider those who may have given outstanding service at the Chapter level, but had not been major contributors at the Society level. We felt that each Chapter is better positioned to identify and honor those members. Instead, we were looking for those people who have contributed to building the Society as a whole and keeping us moving forward. We also recognize that, inevitably, we would be overlooking some members, either due to our memory lapse, or the limited knowledge of the Board not being aware of the service of some. Still, we felt it better to honor those we could identify rather than wait for the perfect list. We also attempted to select 10 members who made major contributions in the first decade, and 10 members who made major contributions in the second decade. Making these choices was tough and I'm sure we've had to omit others who are equally worthy. Perhaps a future Board can give further recognition where it is due.

While I could not begin to list all the contributions of the following members, I've included a few notes for each member so others have some idea of the work that is being honored. The Society will be presenting each of these people with a special 2" silver pin recognizing their service. The pin was designed and made for IFGS (at cost) by IFGS member Tom Paul Grissom. Congratulate and thank these people when you see them.

- Patrick McGehearty, Society President 2001

Honoree list for 20th anniversary of IFGS

  • John Cade - Co-founder of IFGS, original permanent FRC member
  • Dan Frazier - Contributed art work to many earlier pubs, traveled to new chapters and assisted them in getting started by coproducing games.
  • Tony Fabrizio - Elected early FRC member, long service at Society level
  • Paul Hayes - Traveled to new chapters, assisting in productions, President, Board, stabilizing influence.
  • Mark Matthew-Simmons - Co-founder of IFGS, permanent member of FRC
  • Peter Sartucci - Membership chair, Treasury for many years, President, long Board service
  • Kevin Taylor - Long time FRC and Board service
  • Margo Toth - Publications (including several complete books) and Treasurer, Chainmail
  • Fred Welch - Original Safety and original Safety Handbook
  • Bob Wimberger - Wrote Registry book still in use after 10 years
  • Dennis Waltman - Long Board service, documents, Expansion Committee, standard chapter constitution task force, contributions to many committees
  • Sid Pogue - Active Board member and President, long FRC, BlueBook Chair, standard chapter constitution task force
  • Karen Murphy - SSC, Game Library organizer, cross chapter help, new EC handbook
  • Patrick McGehearty - Board Member, President, liason to Norman during its probationary period, Blue Book Chair and member multiple times
  • Paula Hopkins - SSC, work on Game Writer Handbook, multiple games to Game Library
  • Ian Hense - Board service, editor 6.8 Rules
  • Marcus Hayes - Board 3+terms, SSC 2+ terms, 6.5 rules contributions
  • Bill Cowern - SSC Chair, long service and voice for calm and reason.
  • John Brewer - Society Board, President, Games Library originator, Web documentation
  • Ray Appling - Chainmail Editor (and now video reporter)