I've been looking into these gaming clubs and networks that existed prior to the creation of D&D. I am wondering how much impact they may have had on things:The International Federation of Wargaming (IFW)
This seems to be the grandmother of the gaming associations. Notably Gygax is among the founders.
The International Federation of Wargaming (IFW) was founded by Gary Gygax, Bill Speer, and Scott Duncan in 1966.Originally named the United States Continental Army Command, the organization served as an umbrella for local wargaming clubs such as the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association and the Midwest Military Simulation Association. The IFW was divided into chapters with specialized interests, such as the Castle & Crusade Society, which promoted medieval wargaming, and the Armored Operations Society, which emphasized World War II wargaming.The Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA)
The IFW held its first annual convention in Malvern, Pennsylvania in July 1967. By publishing a magazine (called The Spartan in 1969 and later called International Wargamer) and sponsoring the early Gen Cons, the IFW helped wargamers share ideas and meet wargamers from different parts of the country. The IFW ceased functioning around 1974.
Gygax' local club, less interesting with regards to Arneson & Blackmoor, but interesting in terms of the origins of TSR.
The Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA) was a prominent wargaming club active in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin during the 1960s and 1970s. Its membership included Gary Gygax, Terry and Rob Kuntz, Jeff Perren, Mike Reese, Leon Tucker, and Don Kaye. The organization usually met weekly in Gygax's basement. When Gygax and Kaye founded Tactical Studies Rules (later TSR, Inc.) in 1973 to publish Dungeons & Dragons, they echoed part of the name of the LGTSA in the name of their new company.The Midwest Military Simulation Association (MMSA)
This is the most important one when it comes to Blackmoor as it included so many of the key players.
The Midwest Military Simulation Association (MMSA) was a group of wargamers and military figurine collectors active during the late 1960s and 1970s when wargaming was in its heyday and role-playing games were first developed. The group lived in the Minneapolis-St Paul area. Its membership included Dave Arneson, David Wesely, Ken Fletcher, Dave Megarry, John and Richard Snider and others.Castle & Crusade Society
In 2006 Wesely described how the club began:
The Midwest Military Simulation Association was founded on April 18, 1964 by Ray Allard, noted amateur historian and reenactor, now deceased. The first meeting was attended by Dr. William Musing, Loren Johnson, Ron Lauraunt and Winston Sandeen, Ray Allard Junior and David A. Wesely. Ray was about 54 at the time, the next four were all about 30 and the last two were teenagers. Besides age, the group was split by interest, with the five older guys being historians, collectors, modelers and painters of military miniatures, and the two youngest being wargamers. The older guys put up with us, and Winston Sandeen even played in a few miniatures battles, partly because we hung on their every word when they told war stories about WWII and the Korean War.
The ranks were augmented by friends of the original members, and one of these friends, Don Nicholson, recruited new members by contacting people who had checked out "Stategos: A Game of War" by Charles Totten at the UM library. In this way Jim Clark and Greg Scott were recruited. The MMSA also found new wargamers by running welcome tables during fall registration at the UM and the University of St. Thomas, or by running ads in The General and Strategy & Tactics magazines.
Dave Arneson joined when he was in high school. He produced a newsletter describing the group's Napoleonic and American Civil War games, as well as its play-by-mail Diplomacy games. The younger members of the group began to meet at Arneson's house. More interested in wargaming than collecting or historical reenactment, these members played a critical role in the development of RPGs. Dave Wesely conducted what is considered to be the first role-playing game, set in Napoleonic Germany, in 1967. Arneson later developed a fantasy role-playing milieu called Blackmoor, and co-created Dungeons & Dragons with Gary Gygax in 1973. Dave Megarry conceived the idea of a dungeon crawl, and designed a board game around this idea called Dungeon!, published by TSR, Inc. in 1975. That same year TSR also published Star Probe by John Snider.
Unlike most of the wargaming clubs formed in the 1960s, the MMSA is still active.
The C&C Society with its shifted focus towards fantasy, founded by Gygax only two years before Dave Arneson sits down and invents Blackmoor. Its newsletter is also where the first published info about Blackmoor appears.
Formed by Gary Gygax in 1968, the Castle & Crusade Society was a chapter of the International Federation of Wargaming dedicated to medieval miniature wargaming.
Its membership included Gary Gygax, Rob Kuntz and Dave Arneson.
The C&CS published a newsletter called the Domesday Book. Circulation of this newsletter would never exceed 80 copies, but its issues contained a set of rules called the LGTSA miniatures rules which would be expanded and published by Guidon Games as Chainmail in 1971; this being one of the primary predecessors of the original Dungeons & Dragons rules role-playing game.
Issue #13 of the Domesday Book also published the first details and map of Blackmoor from Dave Arneson's first fantasy role-playing campaign in July 1972.
The Castles & Crusades Society officially re-launched as an online society dedicated to supporting and promoting gaming, especially RPGs, in 2008. The Domesday Book was re-launched with new, quarterly editions beginning in April 2008.
Quotes are from the Wikipedia.