Saturday, March 24, 2018

Star Frontiers

Recently, while cleaning out the garage I ran into something I'd actually completely forgotten about.

Finding this book touched off a wave of bittersweet nostalgia for me. 

My college gaming night group switched off of Dungeons and Dragons for a while because there was a guy three of us were trying to ditch and one of us kept bringing to Game Night, despite the fact that the rest of us kept telling him not to.  He was That Guy.

When it was my turn to DM I switched to a new module from TSR called Star Frontiers because I knew there was no way in hell that, That Guy was going to show up unless he could play his elfin paladin-monk-cleric-mage assassin Zex-Xor.  He was really That Guy.

However, it turned out that we liked it.  A lot and for a year we played Starfrontiers exclusively.  The problem started with Zebulon's Guide.  It was to be the first part of three modules that were going to revise and expand the game's rules.   But then all of a sudden Starfrontiers was canceled out of the blue.  I wondered why and then I completely forgot about the game for thirty years.

But after I found the guide I decided to do a little internet research on the subject.  Here's what I found:

Why did TSR kill Star Frontiers after 3 years? Surely, it must have been poor sales, right? Possibly, but more likely it was killed to make way for a Buck Rogers RPG game that is now completely forgotten. 

Why would a company kill off a popular product to make a new game based on a license that the target audience probably didn’t give a rat’s ass about?

In 1928, a guy named John Dille syndicated a new comic strip named Buck Rogers, eventually gaining complete ownership of said character. Guess whose granddaughter was the president of TSR during the 1980s? You guessed it. No, it wasn’t Kathleen Kennedy. It was actually Lorraine Williams, President of TSR and member of the Dille Family Trust. I’m probably being silly, nobody in real life uses a position of power to make business decisions that benefit themselves over the company. That only happens in the movies, right? Regardless, that Buck Rogers game tanked harder than Battlefield Earth starring Mr. Barry Pepper. It also caused poor Twiki to blow a gasket.

Well at least it was done out of honest corruption and greed. Today it would have been canceled to make way for a new RPG called, Gender Frontiers.

Don't tell Wizards of the Coast.  I don't want them getting ideas.


Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

We had That Guy too:

He had one character, a chivalrous human Paladin. Only his name changed, but with one exception, they were some variation on his Superman obsession- Kal, Clar'kent, Sir Reeves, Jor'elson, etc. The only time he veered from this tendency was Sir Rancol, which was Locnar backwards (we had just watched Heavy Metal). Ugh.

He used to mooch money and food off of people and "loom" over any female present (He was large:6' 3") and was Gamma as all Get-out. They usually ran away. Fast.

We had enough and loaded one bowl of salsa (and placed it strategically near him) with something marketed as 'Armageddon Sauce' from a Farmer's Market (one drop to one pot of chili was supposed to suffice for spice). He screamed for about ten minutes and left our game forever.

Good times.

Steven Johnson said...

It's a little like poker, I guess ... if you have a gaming group and you don't think it includes That Guy ... maybe it's you.

walkerhound said...

huh I don't think I actually realized that buck rogers was a deferent game, just assumed it was licensed thing released FOR star frontiers.

By the By WoC just recently put there star frontiers stuff up on rpgnow.