Jon Peterson, author of the scholarly Playing At The World [AL] has unearthed a potential precursor to Chainmail, the game which became the foundation of Dungeons & Dragons. As Jon notes in his most recent article at his blog, there are some striking similarities to some constructs in that game as well as another very lesser known one developed by Leonard Patt and published in one of the earliest wargaming publications called The Courier. Patt’s rules included details for individual heroes and units and share some similarities to elements that show up in Chainmail, although these rules were focused on play in Middle Earth.
As Jon points out, during the early days of the hobby/industry there was a lot of development occurring within the community with others building on others work, much like in today’s OSR community; a large difference is that today, mainly thanks to things like the OGL and a wide awareness of copyright issues, justice, and the interconnectedness of the community through social media, creators and publishers often attribute where inspiration and developmental concepts originally come from. The ramifications of the hobby at that point were not considered.
Readers of Jon’s blog have found Leonard Patt and reached out to him, so more details may be forthcoming.