OSRIC Wars (Or: Stellar Battles. Or: Lizard Has Too Many Ideas.)

Imagine, if you will, that around 1977 or so, a certain E. Gary Gygax saw Star Wars and thought, “Wow, you could make a fortune turning this into an RPG!”. He set about a parallel project to develop a Star Wars RPG that would use the still-evolving AD&D core rules, confident he’d have no trouble securing the license rights. By 1980, the game was done, but the licensing had fallen through completely. With hundreds of manuscript pages written and playtested, a hasty editing job scrubbed all explicit references to the films (and the books by Alan Dean Foster and Brian Daley), tossed in some sci-fi elements ripped off from other media sources, just to make the game more “generic”, and released “Stellar Battles”, the RPG of science fiction adventure. (Maybe “Galaxy Wars”. “Star Rebellion”? “Starships & Smugglers”?)

At the moment, not one word has been written on this; it’s simply an idea. A science fiction RPG based off the OSRIC retro-clone, as it might have been written in 1980 or so, drawing from the first wave of Star Wars material (pre “I am your father” and all that), with plenty of nods to Lensmen, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and John Carter. Classes, levels, lower-is-better Armor Class… in this fantasy alternative universe, a good chunk of the development work was passed to freelance writer David Hargrave, who brought his own unique worldview and style to the project.

It’s hard for me to even think about working on this, as my time is very accounted for over the next few months, and the parts which aren’t accounted for are given over to Earth Delta, which is going to be one of the few projects I actually finish, by Ghod. Still, if there’s interest expressed at all, I might post whatever random dribbles of text I actually create for this, or whatever thoughts, however inchoate and unformed, I have about it.

This would be old-school as I remember it… big, bold, balls-to-the-wall attitude, a deeply personal and raw writing style, a somewhat adversarial player/DM relationship, a chaotic mix of concepts and mechanics, rules that are highly abstract (one minute combat rounds) and highly detailed (weapon vs. armor class) at the same time, and yet, eminently fun and playable. A small dollop of affectionate parody of the era, but mostly as close as I could come to a game that could have, would have, should have, been published a couple of realities over.

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2 Responses to OSRIC Wars (Or: Stellar Battles. Or: Lizard Has Too Many Ideas.)

  1. Gary McCammon says:



  2. Nevile Stocken says:

    Nevile Stocken (Re-posted by request – sorry it took so long to do this)

    You appear to be describing the genesis of “Star Rovers”, except that the rejection by the Twentieth Century gods occurred soon after the release of the movie, and development of the game’s parallel universe began virtually immediately.

    Da…ve’s work was that of an on-going mentor relationship and the contribution of the now sadly lost starship combat design, which I had the task of interfacing into the main game. He presented me with the module after I showed him the work already in progress, which included the URM, which he was impressed enough by to want to join the project. His immediate response to viewing it and the concepts behind it was to hand me his own manuscript to be included with the main work.See More
    December 14, 2010 at 10:22am · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading…
    Nevile Stocken
    I began to commute to Concord from my factory office in San Mateo two to three times a week for the next three years, armed with a tape recorder to record our sessions, as well as a notebook to confer with David on the progress of the proj…ect, transcripts of the tapes (which I had hired a temp to transpose for me), and to make what miniature deliveries were needed to keep his store fully stocked with my products at all times. Week by week, we went over the various aspects of the game which needed developing. I focused my own creative endeavours on the design of key aspects, and farmed out the rest to the other writers on the team.

    At the time, David had a small retail store where he held his own game sessions for Arduin, as well as Star Rovers tests, and my own business was strapped for cash as well. So I hit upon the scheme of paying for his time with miniatures for his store. To make it easier on him, I gave him a distributor discount rather than the usual retail – knowledge about which he kept to himself at my request, as it would have led to ill feelings with other stores in the area had they known about our arrangement. This enabled David to make a more or less regular living, and he responded enthusiastically. Ostensibly, he was supposed to have paid Archive for the difference between what his time was worth, and the cost of stocking his store with my stuff, but it soon became apparent to me that David was always cash-strapped, so I took payment for the outstanding invoices in time and work on Star Rovers. I was glad to do this. His support on the project was invaluable, and he sold a lot of miniatures! It also provided a huge write-off at tax time. He also became a great friend, and he helped to keep me focused on the game design and development througout the life of the project.

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