A Brief History of LSUCWGS/LSURAWS - 09/Sep/2006

This is from my memory, and a bit of talking to people. Please tell me if you think I have anything wrong, or if you can fill in any gaps.

late 1960s to early 1970s

LSU Chess Society is formed. Some of the chess players are also interested in wargames, such as Napolionics, so this becomes LSU Chess and War Games Society. A ex-member of staff, interested in chess, says he believes it formed in 1972.

1973 to 1975

LSUCWGS formed from Chess Society. Some players get involved in the new fantasy roleplaying game imported from the US, "Dungeons and Dragons" (D&D). Chess continues to be played separately from the wargames and roleplaying.


I (Rory McLean) join LSUCWGS, to play D&D. The society meets in L10, later also meeting in L11, in "L" Block, Wavytop Building. Another early member was Brian Renouf. John Drake and John Forman ("Foz") join about this time, or over the next few years, as does Tim Deacon. New games such as "Traveller", a SF roleplaying game, are played in addition to D&D as time goes on.


LSUCWGS starts the Students National Wargames competition (later Students Nationals), running the convention at Loughborough. Gavin Winford Jones is the main organiser. This is still running annually till now (2006), for universities and colleges from all over the UK, though there was a break of several years during the 1980s.

LSUCWGS also starts gaming at the weekends, rather than just the Monday and Thursday evenings, due to large wargames that cannot be run in a single evening, and require considerable time to set up. After this started the club continues to run on this basis, though the chess tends to be played Monday evenings, and the wargaming and roleplaying Thursday evenings and all-day Saturday and Sunday.


Stabcon, a yearly boardgaming, table-top gaming, wargaming and roleplaying, convention is started in Manchester, by Dave Waring, a frequent visitor to, though not member of, LSUCWGS. This ran the first week in January, and has run nearly continuously since then (taking a break during 1988 to 1990), though it now runs twice yearly, Summer Stabcon being in June. Most recently the winter meetings have moved to a hotel in Stockport.

Also a new group of players merges with the club bringing AD&D; includes people such as Steve Walker and Eddie Burdack.


There is sufficient interest that the society continues to meet all through the vacations. This continues until the late 1990s when the daily charge for Security to lock-up rooms is introduced.


The society moves from Wavytop to G Block, on a permanent basis. On occasion there are meetings in Herbert Manzoni, James France, Transport Tech, and Brockington, when G Block is not available for some reason.


Superhero games are first played, started by Mark West, namely "Champions". These are very popular though interest in them fades out in the later 1980s. Some people are searching for games rules to replace D&D, and rules like "Dragonquest", and later in the 1980s "Fantasy Hero", are tried, though D&D, and the newer Advanced D&D, continue to be played.

Also played in the 1980s are "Tunnels & Trolls", "Chivalry & Sorcery", and most enduringly "Bushido". In many respects Bushido is the first major roleplaying game apart from (A)D&D that people play, and it introduces players to the difficult art of roleplaying in the quite alien society of a fantastic medieval Japan.


LSUCWGS wins the Student Nationals three times in succession, alternating years to run the game with Bangor, and hence runs the Student Nationals at Loughborough University three times in six years.

Gencon, the annual international gaming convention, has its UK part run at Loughborough University several times in the 1990s, from 1995 to 1998.

Throughout the 1990s the playing of D&D and AD&D declines, with people instead playing things like the White Wolf Storyteller games, mainly Vampire, though with some Werewolf and Mage, and Hero System games, such as Fantasy Hero, Justice Inc., and Danger International.


The collectable card game "Magic the Gathering" starts being played at the club. As time goes on this becomes at least as important a part of club activities as roleplaying and wargaming.


The chess part of the society wishes to split off into a separate Chess Society, and get this voted for, with the proviso that ownership of the chess boards and clocks revert to LSUCWGS, if they fail as survive as a society. They last about three years. LSUCWGS changes its name to LSURAWS (Roleplaying and Wargaming Society), as there is no longer a chess part of the society, and roleplaying has become at least as important as wargaming.


A web site is set up listing the club activities, and planned games. The club acquires its own PC for playing computer-assisted role-playing and war-games.


The "Old Guards" organisation is set up to formalise ex-members staying in contact, with a web site and a committee. This is completely external to the LSU, but aims to work closely with LSURAWS to ensure ex-members can continue some involvement with the club, and possibly assist with things like refereeing the Student Nationals, if LSURAWS runs it again.


The society is moved out of G Block, to Herbert Manzoni (the Old Library building) having to relocate their lockers and noticeboard, and exchange five rooms for three. Heroclix starts being played, introduced by long-time member Julian Breen.


More rooms become available to the society, so that five rooms can be used for gaming again. Most playing of D&D and AD&D has finished now, with people playing 3rd Edition D&D instead.


The society receives a double blow. Their small lockers in the Edward Herbert Building are thrown away during maintenance work, as there is an administrative mistake made between Loughborough University and LSU. More than two thousand pounds of gaming material, some of it irreplacable, is lost. The university decides to renovate the room in Herbert Manzoni where the main lockers have been moved to, and these are only found on-campus space to go, in an ex-stable, at the last minute. This makes wargames quite difficult.


The society is told that the main lockers must be moved again, and it is not at all clear where they can go.

(c) Rory O. McLean, 1980 - September 2006
    Permission granted to use for non-profit making purposes