The Fantasy Trip was Steve Jackson's first Role-Playing Game. Starting with Melee in 1977, later expanding with Wizard (which added magical combat), the rules started out as a simple yet tactical set of combat rules. When In the Labyrinth came out, the rules expanded to a full-on RPG — one of the earliest RPGs, along with Dungeons & Dragons and Tunnels & Trolls, in 1980. For a while, The Fantasy Trip was the second-best selling RPG of all time.
Unfortunately, Metagaming went out of business only a few years later. Steve Jackson tried to buy the rights to the game, but instead went on to his new company, Steve Jackson Games, and wrote a set of rules that was, more or less, The Fantasy Trip Advanced.
On December 26, 2017, Steve Jackson announced he'd finally reacquired the rights to the eight TFT releases he'd written himself (Melee, Wizard, Death Test, Death Test 2, Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard, In the Labyrinth and Tollenkar's Lair), with future plans as yet undecided.
Despite being out of print for almost three decades, The Fantasy Trip still has a cult following. Its rules are viewed by its fans as a more elegant version of GURPS, as the rules were very simple and focused on fantasy. There have been conversions to other settings on the Internet.
This tabletop RPG provides examples of:
- Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Co-Ur-Example alongside the Dungeons & Dragons Holmes Basic Set. Justified in that ferrous metals disrupt magic, and armor's weight interferes with spells' somatic components.
- Attack Reflector: The Wizards supplement has the Reverse Missiles spell, which causes any kind of missiles (whether mundane or from a missile spell) fired at what it is protecting to turn and hit their source.
- Blob Monster: Slimes were a favorite enemy.
- The Movie: Not a movie, but the almost unknown Tomb of Terror video game from 1985 used the base mechanics.
- Precursors: The Mnoren.
- Squishy Wizard: Partially averted. Wizards are penalized for wearing metal armor or carrying metal weapons (specifically, iron or steel), so can't defend themselves very well. However, casting spells costs fatigue, which is dependent on strength, so wizards are often relatively strong.
- Tabletop RPG: One of the oldest around.
- Three-Stat System: ST, DX, and eventually IQ. Split HT from ST and you get the stat system for its Spiritual Successor, GURPS.
- Trope Maker: The game, particularly Melee, is widely considered to be the first RPG also meant to be realistic, now a common type of RPG.
- Weakened by the Light: In his errata for the system in The Space Gamer magazine #29, Steve Jackson said that the reason that slimes live underground is that they die if exposed to daylight.