Powers and Perils


What is Powers and Perils ?

Powers and Perils is a fantasy roleplaying game created by Richard Snider and published by Avalon Hill in 1983. It originally came in a box containg five booklets, four containing the basic rules and an introductory adventure. A second boxed set of three booklets described the fantasy world The Perilous Lands, a setting developed especially for Powers and Perils. The game has detailed game mechanics, but as a result is very complex, and lots of information is presented in the form of formulas. Probably due to this complexity the game never became a major success and was discontinued around 1985. At the end of 1997 Avalon Hill made it clear that it had no intention to republish the game in the near future, Hasbro did the same in mid-2000 after they took over AH. At the time of it's release, Richard Snider wrote an article in Heroes, called So What's So Great about P&P.

What is a RolePlaying Game ?

Roleplaying is a game in which a number of players describe the actions of a set of fictional characters, and through their interaction create a story or adventure. In most cases one of the players, the GamesMaster, leads the game and governs the world at large, while the other players each play one major character in the story. A roleplaying game is a set of rules which determines, in part, the laws of physics for the setting in which the story develops and helps to determine the outcome of actions the players have their characters perform.

A more complete definition and description is provided on the page What is Roleplaying?.

Where can I get the game ?

As the game has been out of publication for almost twenty years, the chances of finding a new set are slim, but shrinkwrapped unharmed sets do surface from time to time. The first and most promising way to find them is to visit eBay. Other ways are to

Won't anyone republish this great game?

Actually, since March 2004, there is an effort to revamp the game books and get them available. The project has been dubbed P&P v2 and gets the active cooperation of Richard Snider and many others who have subscribed to the mailing list.

How to contact Avalon Hill ?

Visit their website or write to The Avalon Hill Game Company, 4517 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21214. AH is now a division of Hasbro, so you can also try to contact them. Good luck, you'll need it.

Is there a Games Magazine covering Powers and Perils ?

Yes there is, or rather there was. Avalon Hill published the magazine Heroes from 1984 to 1986. In that time 2 volumes, totalling 10 issues appeared. Its first editor was William E. Peschel, who was by Vol.II-2 replaced by Richard Snider. After the first year the magazine quickly deteriorated and was discontinued as AH dropped it's fantasy RPGs. An overview of the articles concerning Powers and Perils in these years is reproduced here, which was compiled by Shannon Appel.

What material concerning Powers and Perils was published ?

Apart from the basic set and the Perilous Lands set, only one adventure appeared, Tower of the Dead. A second supplement, Pelara, was announced in Heroes Vol.I No.1, but never published. A number of small adventures and some rule extensions were published in Heroes. This has been compiled into a list of known Avalon Hill originated Powers and Perils rules and background material. Besides from that, a number of players have created their own rules and extensions, which are collected on this site. Even with this limited amount of material, the rules cover more parts of the mechanics of a fantasy world than most games, and the Perilous Lands is one of the most detailed fantasy worlds ever published.

Who did the art work for Powers and Perils ?

Cover of box-set and Perilous Lands was done by James Talbot; B&W 'cover' art for the books by James Talbot and Ed Morris; Other inside art: Stephanie Czech, Paul Dame, Winchell Chung, Bob Haynes, Charles Kibler, and Ed Morris.
[Based upon mail to the p&p-list by Paul Ming; see also the end of Book IV]

What can I find on this site ?

The main part of this site is dedicated to the rules and extensions published by Avalon Hill and various players. There is a section on the various worlds players have created for P&P and the advetures set therein. A special section is devoted to the Perilous Lands. There is also a collection of computer programs, sheets and other tools to aid both player and GM. Further there is some information concerning my own players group, other players and the P&P mailing list.

Do you play or DM yourself ?

Yes, I am an active player and yes, I am currently the GM for our group. To answer questions about our local players group, I have compiled a short description. I further play in the PBeM campaign run by Scott Adams.

Are there other people playing Powers and Perils and how can I contact them ?

Maybe surprisingly, but there are still people playing this game. Over the years, a number of people have added themselves to the list of known players. There is also a mailing list, which is irregularly used by a number of players to share ideas and stories from their campaigns, or fight heated debates. At other times it is the quietest little list on the web and used only as an echo well. ("Hello! Anybody out there?")

Are there other websites concerning Powers and Perils ?

Not a lot, but I do keep a list of those sites known to me who so much as mentions the name of P&P. It used to include several online games stores who claimed to sell the game (but those copies are sold) and will do so again when I find new ones.