CAR-PGa NEWSLETTER, Vol. 31, No. 5, May 2022

An international network of researchers into all aspects of role-playing games

David Millians, Editor

Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 USA


Hi All,

We recently had a great conversation with Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon. Unearthed from Ben Riggs’ own adventurous campaign of in-depth research, interviews with major players, and acquisitions of secret documents, Slaying the Dragon reveals the true story of the rise and fall of TSR. His book goes behind the scenes of TSR’s Lake Geneva headquarters where the company began employing innovative artists and writers who redefined the sword and sorcery genre … and ended unable to publish so much as a postcard. You can watch our dialogue on YouTube, order advance copies of his book online or in bookstores, and follow him on Twitter.

It’s recently come up that some guests prefer to work with 501(c)3 organizations, and given that the CAR-PGA is non-profit, it may be a path for us to consider if we plan to invite more high-profile guests like Ben. Board member Hawke Robinson offered to roll the CAR-PGA into the RPG Research 501(c)3. Paul Cardwell’s archives are currently housed with RPG Research, including the RPG Museum where the Cardwell collection will be hosted.

As the name suggests, CAR-PGA would be a committee, rather than a separate business, and would have significant autonomy, but would have the direct backing of RPG Research’s resources. We would just need one of the board members (besides Hawke) to join the RPG Research board as a voting member (and attend their quarterly board meetings). The CAR-PGA would still have its own “board” of committee members voting on committee issues, and functionally be the same, but “officially” be part of the 501(c)3.

What do you think? We welcome your thoughts on the topic. Send me a note at Let us know before the end of the month so we can share your comments in the next newsletter.

I look forward to hearing from you!


Mike Tresca

Committee Chair


RPG Research Suspending All International Services and Most Other Operations In Order to Get Insurance

By Hawke Robinson

It is with a heavy heart that this announcement is written today, though it is expected this will only be a temporary, brief, hiccup in our decades-long (45+ years) international endeavors related to RPG Research and gaming accessibility.

With the exception of our efforts to open the new RPG Community Center in Spokane, Washington, we must suspend almost all of our services and non-local volunteer staff effective April 28th, 2022 so we can get insurance to allow volunteers and the public to be able to access the RPG Community Center.

We need all resources focused on getting this RPG Community Center open to the public, then we will do all we can to incrementally bring back as many of our other programs over time that we’re allowed (by insurance).

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 

Comics as Pattern for Roleplaying-Games. Part 7: Lucky Luke. Adventures in the Old West, in France and in the Old South

By Carsten Obst

“Lucky Luke” is one of the best known European comics. Developed in 1946 by the Belgian artist Maurice De Bevere aka Morris, the stories about “the man, who shoots faster than his shadow” and his companion, the intelligent horse Jolly Jumper, gained quickly the interest of the comic fans.  At first Morris was also the author, but since 1955 he worked together with the French writer René Goscinny. Both had spent some time in the United States. Their knowledge about the American history contributed to the success of “Lucky Luke”.

The series parodies the Old West genre with Lucky Luke as the brave, resourceful, and clever hero, who defends the good people against all kinds of evil. He is supported by Jolly Jumper and often by Rantanplan, a dog, whose stupidity is only surpassed by his gluttony.

During his adventures Luke encounters many historical people. Among them we find Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Roy Bean, Mark Twain, and President Rutherford B. Hayes, as well as Calamity Jane, Belle Starr, and Sarah Bernhardt. In many stories the four Dalton brothers Joe, Jack, William, and Averell appear, the fictional cousins of the real Daltons.

Often historical events of the Old West are starting points or backgrounds of the adventures. The “Land Run of 1889” in Oklahoma, the oil rush in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” are some of them. The stories take place independently of the real time, while Lucky Luke never ages.

Several plot elements changed over the decades. In some early stories Luke killed an opponent, but now he always captures them alive. A noticeable change resulted from the modern attitude towards smoking. Since 1948 Luke smoked, but he quit this unhealthy habit in 1983. One element never changed: in the last panel Luke rides with Jolly Jumper into the sunset, singing “I´m a poor lonesome cowboy, and a long way from home….”

Goscinny died in 1977. Several authors wrote new stories, among them Bob de Groot, Guy Vidal, and Jean Léturgie. Before Morris died in 2001, he stated that “Lucky Luke” shall be continued. His successor became in 2003 the French artist Hervé Darmenton aka Achdé. He collaborates with authors like Claude Guylouis and Julien Lucien Berheaut, aka Jul.

Three of the comic albums, which were drawn by Achdé and written by Jul, are the topic of this article. They deal with interesting but often lesser known events of the US history in the 19th century, which can be used for RPG adventures with an appropriate historical background. GURPS Old West would be a good system for that.

In 2016 Achdé and Jul published the album “La Terre promise”. German and English editions followed in 2017, which had the titles “Das gelobte Land” and “The Promised Land”.

Luke encounters his friend Jack Loser, a cowboy known as “the unluckiest guy west of the Pecos,” whose family has emigrated from Europe to the USA. They want to meet him in St. Louis, so that they can travel together to Chelm City, a (fictional) town in Montana, but Jack just took on the job of a cattle drive to overcome his reputation of unluckiness. For this reason, he asks Luke to accompany his family. Our hero agrees, learning that Jack´s real name is Jakob Stern: his family are Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern European.

In St. Louis Luke meets Jack´s family, his parents Moishe and Rachel Stern, as well as his niece, the 20-year old Hanna and her 12-year-old brother Jankel. They are spotted by two outlaws, who falsely think that the family is rich. This supposition seems to be confirmed when Moishe Stern shows Luke their most valuable possession: an old Torah. The outlaws do not know that its value is religious and not financial.

On the way to Chelm City, the outlaws try several times to ambush the family, but they always fail. During a short stay in Peachy Poy, a typical town of the Old West (saloons, shootouts, brawls, gambling), Moishe Stern is almost lynched, because he misunderstands the local customs of the gambler´s dance to gunshots. Luke saves him, and the journey continues.

In the territory of the Crees the group has an unfriendly encounter with the tribe, but while Luke negotiates with the chief, Moishe Stern takes off his hat, while he introduces himself. Seeing his kippah, the warriors suddenly cheer and invite them into their camp. Here Moishe Stern gets a valuable Torah from the shaman, which according to an old prophecy shall be handed over to the man with the “double scalp.”

Finally the group reaches Chelm City, where the Sterns meet Jack and some other family members, who already live there. While Jankel celebrates his Bar Mitzvah in “the first kosher saloon of the West,” Luke rides into the sunset, passing a seven-armed cactus….

The historical background of the comic is the emigration of the Ashkenazi Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe. Between 1881 and 1924 about two million of them left these countries. Anti-Semitic pogroms, political repressions, and poverty caused them to emigrate to the United States, South Africa, and Australia, hoping for a better life. So an RPG adventure is possible in which Jewish immigrants travel through the Old West. The PCs can be Jews, who must deal with the life in a pioneering area with its special customs, or their guides, for whom the Jewish religious traditions will be confusing, just as it happens to Luke.

The pogroms against Jews in Eastern Europe during the 19th century are only indicated in the comic, when Moishe Stern mentions that Cossacks murdered Hanna´s and Jankel´s parents. A special hint to the Shoah or Holocaust the readers get with the city of Peachy Poy. This place name is the English version of Pitchipoi, a fictional town invented by Jewish parents in the internment camp Drancy to calm their frightened children. In fact, these families were sent to the death camps, mostly to Auschwitz.

According to the comic´s structure as a parody, the plot focuses on a lovable portrayal of the Jewish culture, especially of the Ashkenazi Jews. The Stern family matches traditional stereotypes but in a positive way. Rachel Stern for example is the classic “Jewish mom,” who always cares for her family and her friends. Trying to find a husband for Hanna and thinking of Luke as a suitable candidate, she praises her granddaughter´s talents enthusiastically.

The religious commandments of the Jewish religion cause many humorous situations, while they also inform about the traditional culture of the Jews. One example is the Kashrut, the dietary laws. These laws, explained by Moishe Stern, prevent Luke from replenishing the supplies by hunting. Similar problems are caused by the Sabbath rules. From Friday evening to Saturday evening, the family can neither travel nor make a campfire. As a result, Luke must camp with them at an unfavorable place with a cold meal.

A running gag is the family´s appearance, which includes dark clothes as well as a full beard for Moishe Stern. For this reason they are constantly mistaken for Amish or Mormons. Only a sergeant of the US Cavalry recognizes them correctly as Jews, but his commander does not believe him: what shall Jews do in the Old West?

“The Promised Land” offers lots of interesting ideas for a humorous RPG adventure in the Old West, when the traditions of this genre and the Jewish customs suddenly meet. Following the mood of “Lucky Luke” many funny conflicts can result from the different behavior of the pioneers at the frontier and the newcomers from Eastern Europe.

Anti-Semitic prejudices, which were widespread during the 19th century, can also be integrated into a historic RPG adventure. Then the adventure´s mood becomes dark and even violent, when the Jewish newcomers encounter anti-Semites. Now their guides must be very vigilant and constantly prepared to defend them. On the other hand, the Jews themselves may be able to fight back. Boxing and wrestling were also studied by Jewish athletes, giving them powerful and surprising arguments in discussions with overconfident anti-Semites.

The album “Un cow-boy à Paris” was published by Achdé and Jul in 2018. A German edition with the title “Ein Cowboy in Paris” (“A Cowboy in Paris”) followed in the same year.

Escorting the Daltons to prison, Luke meets Auguste Bartholdi, the famous French sculptor. Touring the United States with a giant arm holding a torch on a wagon, he has just had some problems with the Cheyenne. Luke solves the conflict, learning that Bartholdi raises money to complete his new project: a large statue as a symbol for freedom on an island in the harbor of New York. It is the Statue of Liberty, of course.

After handing over the Daltons to the prison, Luke meets Abraham Locker, the warden, who intends to build an escape-proof penitentiary. He already choose a location for it: an island in the harbor of New York – guess which one. The strict security measures in the prison prove Locker´s fanatical determination, for even his canary wears a lead ball. For the warden, Bartholdi is an unwanted rival.

Near the next town Luke meets Bartholdi again, who was tarred and feathered. An interrogation of the thugs (the six-shooter-questioning) reveals that Locker paid them to sabotage the sculptor´s tour. To prevent further attacks Luke accompanies Bartholdi. The tour is finally successful, raising enough money to complete the statue. On the way through the USA, Luke must stop several more sabotage attempts of Locker´s henchmen.

At the request of the US Vice President, Luke travels with Bartholdi to France, where the statue shall be completed. Locker contacts a henchman in Paris per telegram, ordering him to sabotage the construction. After arriving in the capital of France, Luke explores the City of Light, as it is called, experiencing the French way of life. He also meets famous people like the engineer Gustave Eifel and the writer Victor Hugo.

Locker´s henchman in Paris tries to sabotage the project. His first attempt causes a wild chase on horseback through the city, with Luke and Jolly Jumper accidentally winning the horse race on the famous Longchamp Racecourse. The second attempt ends in a shootout on the statue and the arrest of the henchman, who landed on his head after falling down.

With the completed statue, Luke and Bartholdi travel to the United States. After a triumphant arrival in New York, the lonesome cowboy confronts Locker. His visit, which proves all security rules of the prison as inefficient, thoroughly intimidates the warden. Luke does not only shoot faster than his shadow, but he slams a door also faster.

Finally, the Statue of Liberty is officially inaugurated. Luke and Bartholdi say goodbye, while the statue quickly becomes a tourist magnet. Locker ends up as a convict in Alcatraz. Luke rides into the sunset as usual, but this time he sings a song by Victor Hugo: “Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne, je partirai….” (“Tomorrow, at dawn, when the countryside whitens, I will leave….”)

The album is a good example how the series transposes historical events into a comic, as a comparison with the real events during the statue´s construction shows. Bartholdi, who greatly admired the democratic government of the United States, began to plan it in 1865. Visiting the USA in 1871 he won influential personalities as sponsors. He also choose Bedloe´s Island, known since 1956 as Liberty Island, as an ideal location for the statue.

During the next years Bartholdi continued to develop his project. In 1876 he showed the right arm with the torch at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. Afterwards exhibited in New York for several years, it was finally returned to Paris to complete the statue. Since 1882 a successful fundraising, supported by Joseph Pulitzer, secured the project´s financing.

In 1884 the statue was completed and in 1885 transported to New York. The official opening took place on October 28th, 1886. Quickly the Statue of Liberty became a symbol for the democratic ideals of the United States.

So the album summarizes events from the history of the Statue of Liberty, which took place between 1876 and 1886. It also includes a large number of allusions to the culture, history, personalities, as well as the way of life in the United States and France during the 19th century, which cause a winking cultural clash.

The album also gives suggestions for realistic RPG adventures and even a campaign, which focuses on the Statue of Liberty. Here the PCs can be both Americans and French who get involved in the project. Just transporting the statue safely to the United States in 1885 would be a challenge. In our history the passage across the Atlantic was delayed by storms, but what if someone tries to steal the disassembled parts only to return them for a ransom?

The donations for the statue are also a worthwhile target for criminals, be it through theft, embezzlement, or fraud. On both sides of the Atlantic the PCs can be busy as police officers, private detectives, or insurance employees to guard the statue as well as the collected money, while journalists try to get exclusive stories about the events.

A particular focus of the plot would be the cultural clash of the different ways of life in the United States and France. The stereotypes of American directness and French diplomacy offer even in a historical RPG plenty of opportunities for humorous situations. The Grand Nation´s cuisine with delicacies like frogs and snails may confuse PCs from the United States, while those from France would consider US cooks as incompetent barbarians.

In 2020 Achdé and Jul published their newest album “Un cow-boy dans le cotton” (“Torches in the Cotton Fields”), and a German edition with the title “Fackeln im Baumwollfeld” followed one year later. It has a much darker and more serious plot than ever before as a contribution to the Black-Lives-Matter-movement – and it is a successful one.

The cover shows the album´s intention: Luke and a lawman standing in a cotton field, both with their guns drawn, watched by four Ku-Klux-Klan-members. The companion of the lonesome cowboy is a real-life character of the Old West, Bass Reeves, the first black US-deputy marshal west of the Mississippi. For a long time nearly forgotten, modern historians have now documented his life well. So the album is also a homage to Reeves.

Born in 1838 as a slave, Reeves escaped from Arkansas to the Indian Territory, where he lived with the Cherokees, Creeks, and Seminoles. Freed by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, he became a farmer, until in 1875 he joined the deputy marshals of Isaac Parker. Honest, dutiful, incorruptible, and with an excellent reputation, Reeves was an expert marksman and a supreme detective. When he retired in 1909, he had arrested more than 3,000 suspects and shot fourteen opponents in self-defence. Bass Reeves died in 1910. It is assumed that this model lawman may be the inspiration for the Lone Ranger.

In 1870 Luke is on holiday in the peaceful town Nitchvoga, where he meets his old friend Bass Reeves. The deputy marshal has just captured the Daltons, who had again escaped from prison. While Luke and Reeves celebrate their reunion, the local notary informs the lonesome cowboy about the death of Mrs. Constance Pinkwater, a rich widowed plantation-owner in Louisiana. A great fan of Luke, she determined him as her sole heir.

Luke, unwilling to settle down, travels to Louisiana, where he wants to hand over the plantation to the black workers. Before that Reeves warns him: the Civil War is over, but the tensions in the South remain. On his way Luke has a friendly encounter with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn but soon experiences the dark reality of the South, when he rescues a young black man from being lynched by two white men.

At the Pinkwater Plantation Luke is greeted by Sokrates Pinkwater, the black foreman. Obviously a former slave (freed slaves sometimes took their master´s name), he behaves cautiously. When Luke shakes his hand, Sokrates is confused: for the first time a white man greeted him this way. The plantation seems to be a dream, if you see just the mansion.

But again Luke learns the dark truth: several blacks were murdered, and so the former slaves and their families fear for their lives. The only exception is Angela, the strong-willed and fearless teacher at the new school for the black children. She demands from Luke a fair treatment of the workers. While everyone expects him to shoot her, his announcement that he will hand over the plantation to the workers surprises all.

Luke gets a warm-hearted welcome from the white plantation owners, who still live in luxury despite the defeat in the Civil War, but as soon as he informs his neighbour Quincy “QQ” Quarterhouse, who branded his slaves with his initials, about his intention to give the plantation to the black workers, the friendliness turns to hate. “QQ” is also a member of the local Ku Klux Klan, which decides to murder Luke.

Meanwhile the Daltons escape again from prison, this time via the prison library, and pursue Luke to Louisiana. They want to kill him so that they can rob the plantation´s wealth. In Louisiana the brothers discover the natural beauty of the Bayou (swamps, quicksand, snakes, alligators – a real adventure holiday) as well as the friendly hospitality of the Cajuns.

Meanwhile the situation escalates on the plantation. The Ku Klux Klan takes Angela as hostage, forcing Luke to surrender, but then the Daltons appear. Thinking the clan is an exotic Indian tribe, they argue hotly with “QQ” about who has the right to kill Luke. In that moment unexpected reinforcements arrive: Reeves, who tracked the Daltons to Louisiana, and the workers from the plantation, whom Luke´s fairness encouraged, attack the clan meeting.

A hurricane ends the battle, literally blowing away the Old South. Reeves arrests the Daltons, while Luke can finally give the plantation to the workers. Sokrates, Angela, and most of them want to rebuild it as their new home, but two young men move to the West to become cowboys. When Reeves and Luke ride into the sundown, they follow, singing “Let my People go”. And “QQ”? He and most clan members are missing since the hurricane, but in the Bayou they tell stories about well-fed alligators wearing hoods….

Despite some historical liberties (in 1870 Reeves was still a farmer, while Tom´s and Huck´s adventure took place before the Civil War), Achdé and Jul successfully implemented the current civil rights debate into the series. Humour is still an important component of the story, but it does not detract from the seriousness of the topic. At the same time the plot offers several valuable impulses for a historical RPG.

For a long time the participation of Afro-Americans in the settlement of the Old West was unnoticed or forgotten, but meanwhile historians began to research it. One result is the fact, that up to 25 percent of the cowboys were African Americans. The wish of the young men at the end of the story to take up this profession is historically correct.

In a historical Old West RPG an encounter with Bass Reeves would be an interesting experience for the PCs. Let us hope that they are on the right side of the law. For black PCs this may create the wish to become lawmen themselves.

Reeves’ life offers many more ideas for adventures, especially his escape from Southern slavery to the Indian Territory. Black PCs may try the same before or during the Civil War. First they flee from the plantations, trying to find their way through the South while being hunted mercilessly. Then they must find a tribe, which accepts them as new members or at least as guests. Finally, the former slaves have to adapt to a new way of life, but they should also be wary of bounty hunters, who may still be searching for them.

After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, black PCs can try to start a life in freedom. The West certainly offers opportunities for that, but racism and discrimination will continue to follow them. An alternative would be to settle down in a freedmen’s town, where only black people live. Its establishing and defence against racially motivated hostilities would be a special challenge as well as the background for a complete campaign.

Achdé and Jul offer us lots of interesting ideas for exciting adventures and campaigns which encompass the Old West, the South, the Bayou, and even France, but they also expand the classic topics of the genre. For GMs and players this will be a special challenge. If you like RPGs in the Old West, you should try it.


  • Achdé & Jul: Lucky Luke. Das gelobte Land; Egmont Ehapa Media; Berlin 2016; ISBN 978-3-7704-3924-9
  • Achdé & Jul: Lucky Luke. Ein Cowboy in Paris; Egmont Ehapa Verlag; Berlin 2018; ISBN 978-3-7704-4040-5
  • Achdé & Jul: Lucky Luke. Fackeln im Baumwollfeld; Ehapa Verlag; Berlin 2020; ISBN 978-3770441273
  • Achdé & Jul: Lucky Luke. La Terre promise; Dargaud; Paris 2016; ISBN 978-2-88471-369-6
  • Achdé & Jul: Lucky Luke. Un cow-boy á Paris; Dargaud; Paris 2018; ISBN 978-2884714532
  • Achdé & Jul: Lucky Luke. Un cow-boy dans le coton; Dargaud; Paris 2020; ISBN 978-2884714655
  • Achdé & Jul: The Promised Land. A Lucky Luke Adventure; Cinebook; Canterbury 2017; ISBN 978-1-84918-366-6


You can order the comics at this game-store:

Buchhandlung Fantasy Reich

– c/o Peter den Hoet –

Wilhelminenstraße 17

D-24103 Kiel


Telephone/Fax: [Germany] 0431/9719370 and 0431/5878658; E-Mail:; Homepage:; Languages: German, English, and Dutch



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© Copyright 2022 by the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games (CAR-PGa), ISSN 1071 7129. The CAR-PGa Newsletter is a monthly publication. For more information contact David Millians, Editor, Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 USA, phone (404) 808-1070, fax (404) 377-3491, e-mail Back issues are available. Contributions of material from the membership are urged, and the byline is responsible for content. Deadline is the last weekday of the month, email preferred. Permission is granted to copy anything in the Newsletter, provided we get a credit line in the publication copying it, and it doesn’t have someone else’s copyright on it. Information, including details on joining CAR-PGa, can be obtained on the Internet at