Recently, while cleaning out the garage I ran into something I’d 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, that 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 Dark Elf-Paladin-Monk-Cleric-Mage-Assassin Zex-Xor. He was really That Guy.
However, it turned out that we liked the game. A lot. And for a year we played Starfrontiers exclusively.
The problems begin 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.