November 7, 2013

TFT - Tanks

The Fantasy Trip was a role-playing game that came out in 1980 with the release of In The Labyrinth, the core rule set. It also included Melee (tactical combat) and Wizard (spellcasting), as well as the Advanced versions of them. The game was written by Steve Jackson who later used the system as a base for GURPS. This series of articles is a look at the rules of The Fantasy Trip as seen through modern eyes.

As part of the character generation system, In the Labyrinth, provides some examples of types of characters people might want to play. These are not classes, but rather suggestions on how to build a specific style of character. Examples are swashbuckler (make him Dex based and take certain talents) and Ranger (again Dex based and give it ranged and nature talents). The first example listed is Human Tank. The Human Tank is a bare bones fighter with high Str and it is recommended they wear heavy armor. Sounds like your typical Tank character.

The interesting thing is that the concept of a Tank is strongly tied into the world of MMOs. If you mention a Tank character most people equate that to an MMO. In MMOs Tanks are the class that take lots of damage and can mitigate it. Almost exactly like the Human Tank from TFT. This got me thinking, what is the origin of the term "Tank"?

Doing some research, the first response is that it is an MMO term. Doing some more digging, it is suggested that the Tank originated in MUDs starting in 1994. And yet, here we have the exact same term, with the same meaning, in 1980. Was TFT the first to coin the phrase "Tank" with the meaning of a warrior that takes lots of damage for the group? Did they use a term already in use?

It's an interesting thought that The Fantasy Trip may have created the term "Tank" that is used so prevalently in modern day gaming.
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