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.