REVENGE! is a board game, created by John Ross "Jack" Harness.
A complicated board game.
It has properties with deeds and rent,
and hazard squares and helpful squares,
and cards that can help you or hurt you, sorta like Monopoly®.
It has contests fought with armies, sorta like Risk®.
It also has one unique feature: if you die in any of the myriad ways
that Revenge! provides --
tortured to death in the Torture Chamber,
Eat Flaming Death in the Uranium Mines,
run out of money, lose a duel,
fall into the Black Hole...
Whichever of the game's many hazards do you in, REVENGE! has five mythical characters that you can reincarnate into.
And, of course, REVENGE! is sweet.
If that has piqued your interest, you should read the rules.
Back in the early 1970s, there was a monthly party at Brandyhall, the home of Lee and Barry Gold. These parties were held in the large living room. There was usually a card game, either Brag (Wikipedia is your friend) or Poker, around the dining table at the East end of the living room, with pockets of conversation in various spots in the middle or near the West end of the room. Sometimes a couple of fans would get bored with the conversations and wander over to watch (and kibitz) the card game. This bothered Jack (an avid player of these games), so he created a game to absorb the attention of the fans who weren't part of the card game.
We can date REVENGE! fairly accurately: Jack published it in F/Ractional 308.5007 for the The Cult. The number 308.xxx tells us that Jack published REVENGE! between FR308 and FR309. So REVENGE! was first published somewhere between September, 1973 and November, 1973, according to the M. Horvat Collection of Genre Apazines at the University of IOWA Libraries Special Collections.
Of course, the game had to be interesting, so people would play it. And it had to be take a long time to play: once it was over, people would be free to wander over and kibitz the card game (see above). So Jack put as many complications as he could into the game, and to make sure it wasn't over too soon he put in the option of reincarnation. Now, losing your first life isn't much fun. But the mythical characters had considerably more power than a starting player: immunity to one or more hazards, the ability to kill off other players, etc. So even if you got killed, you didn't wander off disconsolate and bother the card game. You took on one of the mythical characters and took REVENGE! on whoever was responsible for your death.
Jack also filled REVENGE! with references and inside jokes so people would enjoy reading it. Jack was very fond of puns and references, to the point that LA fans coined a term, "Harnessism". That is a joke that, even after it's explained to you, you still don't understand it. But most of the references in REVENGE! aren't that hard.
Jack was a fan artist, probably best known for his Cultoons. He made the original board out of a piece of opaque, somewhat rubbery plastic. He drew the lines with felt-tip markers, hand-lettered the names of the squares and other lettering, and filled in the symbols on the squares with oil paints. He typed the deeds and cards on buff-colored cover stock, using felt-tip pens for the colored circles and other symbols on property deeds, and water colors to fill in the colored parts.
I (Barry Gold) later made a second revenge board. I bought a large sheet of 4-ply board and drew the lines with a T-Square and draftsman's triangles. First I drew the lines in pencil, then went over them with a felt-tip marker using a yardstick for a straight-edge. I colored in the symbols with Crayolas®, then laid an old bedsheet on top of it and used an iron set on low to melt the wax into the chipboard. Lee did the lettering: my handwriting/printing is awful.
One more treat for history buffs: scans of the original rules for REVENGE!, as played at Brandyhall.
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