When I was a little kid, someone got me John Coyne’s novel Hobgoblin for a birthday present. (It was probably 1983~1984.) Of course, the novel was pretty bad and forgettable; I don’t remember it clearly except for the beginning, the ending and a scene in-between when the game-crazed hero is running a “one-on-one role-play session” with the girl he likes, which involves getting her in his bedroom and having her roll up a “Maiden in Distress” type character so she can be kidnapped by lusty orcs or something. (Why would my 9-year-old self remember this scene? -_-;; ) “Hobgoblin” is basically “Mazes & Monsters” anti-D&D hysteria mixed with a murder-thriller plot; the one pseudo-pro-D&D element of it all is that the delusional teenage hero isn’t the killer, and ends up beating the bad guy (some kind of psycho… I forget) with his RPG-gained skills.

There’s one thing about “Hobgoblin” that stands out to me now: the D&D-esque “Hobgoblin” game that the main characters play uses cards, not dice. This was obviously because John Coyne was too stupid to understand how D&D was actually played, and/or he thought his readers wouldn’t understand it (or more charitably, he wanted to come up with something original, and he liked the iconography of Tarot Cards), but looking back on it from 30 years in the future, it totally makes me think: MAGIC THE GATHERING. (No, not Everway.) It’s just like Magic, plus a role-play element! Everyone in Coyne’s “Hobgoblin” is totally getting it on (sometimes literally) with cards at recess, getting into their gameworld, but it’s all cards, cards, cards, with nary a polyhedral die involved. A parallel universe? Or a prediction of the future 12 years after he wrote the book? Sadly, though, Magic, unlike Hobgoblin, has never had a roleplay element, which is the main reason I’ve never been very into it.